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Aug 10 2016

Judy by the Numbers: "Judgment at Nuremberg"

Apologies,gentle Judy fans.While I intended to bring you the usual dose of morning Garland sunshine,I failed in meeting either the requirement for sunshine or the morning deadline.In this case,however,that's probably for the best.Considering the subject of this film,it is probably better that you have a cup of coffee and a bite to eat before you sit down to watch it.This week,I'm breaking with tradition slightly.While Judy Garland does not sing any numbers inJudgment at Nuremberg,this is a performance and a movie that must be seen.

The Movie:Judgment at Nuremberg(UA,1961)
The Writer:Abby Mann (screenplay)
The Cast:Maximilian Schell,Burt Lancaster,Spencer Tracy,Marlene Dietrich,Richard Widmark,Judy Garland,directed by Stanley Kramer

The Story:When Stanley Kramer decided to adapt Abby Mann's dramatization of the Nuremberg trials,Judy Garland was not his first choice for Irene Hoffman,the woman accused of miscegenation under Nazi law.However,after seeing Garland in concert,Kramer was impressed by her emotional range,and agreed to take a risk on the star who hadn't made a film in over half a decade.

The risk paid off.Judy Garland's performance,though only 18 minutes long,remains one of the most devastating of the film.While Irene is only one example of the many ways unjust laws persecuted and destroyed lives in Nazi Germany,Judy's short performance elevates Irene from symbol to human being.Framed in closeup,Judy plays Irene's grief in many keys: dignified mourning,frustrated confusion,disdain,defensiveness,fear,until it builds to a crescendo of anger and and injustice that almost renders her speechless.

This would be Judy's only foray into "legitimate"drama (as opposed to the musicals and melodramas of her past),and it stands as a testament to her what might have been.Judy would receive her second and final Academy Award nomination for this performance (losing this time to Rita Moreno inWest Side Story).But while Judy's career in films was waning,her star was about to rise on a new medium: television.

Select Previous Highlights:
"Zing Went the Strings of My Heart"(1938),"Over the Rainbow"(1939),"For Me and My Gal" (1942),"The Trolley Song"(1944),"On the Atchison Topeka and the Santa Fe"(1946),"I Don't Care"(1949),"Get Happy"(1950),"The Man That Got Away"(1954)

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Reader Comments (12)

Everyone should see this movie.It is one of Kramer's best.Every performance shines.

August 10,2016 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie19

The movie,though brilliantly acted by all,is a tough go.Not saying that it shouldn't be watched it absolutely should but it's exhausting emotionally.

Both Judy and Monty Clift are searing in the honesty of their performances and deserved their nominations.I've never quite understood Schell's nomination and win,he's very good and aids the film with his work but I thought Widmark and Spencer Tracy added just as much to the courtroom scenes and Tracy more to the film.

Judy had one other non-musical straight drama in her filmography,The Clock which is quite a fetching film.Actually almost two since she doesn't really "perform"in A Child is Waiting though she does play a music teacher and sings with the students.

August 10,2016 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

I think the power of Schell's performance is that you don't hate him.I am not smart enough to figure out if this is casting or acting,but Schell so well personifies the evil of the ordinary German.He is not cruel,he shows no racial superiority,and unlike Lancaster,there is no redemptive acknowledgement.He is just doing his job,without malice and while the audience may not like him,they don't hate or recoil from him either.So often the Academy recognizes the role as well as the actor.

joel6………………..Fetching…..I want to keep using that word all week.And an apt description of the film.

August 10,2016 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie19

Judy is very good but Schell really dominates the scene

August 10,2016 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Garland and Clift should have won the Oscar for their performances.Rita Moreno...well...mmm...Bur George Chakiris!!??Please!!!

August 10,2016 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

Leslie,that's a great point about Schell.At times he appears quite reasonable.He affects the audience as a charismatic witness struggling to defend a misguided people.There's great fire and passion to this performance,but it is a seething underlay of outrage that really slams you.For me,terrific work and a well-deserved Oscar.

Judy is brilliant,but without diminishing her talent,the extreme aging she endured due to her hard living greatly aided this performance.It's great acting,to be sure,but I still also see Judy,and that this is only 22 years after TWOO.

This was Kramer's artistic pinnacle.He would never be near this good again.

August 10,2016 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Without a doubt one of my favorite Judy performances.In this scene in particular she is so raw...you feel EVERYTHING she's going through,and although she's very clearly acting (affecting a damn good accent,stiffening her posture and bearing) it still feels natural.That she manages to make this performance feel so lived-in is a miracle,given the short amount of screentime and the symbolic nature of the role.

I'd like to think that in any other year she would have been a shoo-in for the Oscar,but there are VERY few performances in the history of film that could have beaten Rita Moreno in West Side Story.Ironic that when Judy gets nominated for dramatic non-musical work,she loses to a performance in a musical.

August 10,2016 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Well holla Maximillian Schell.Such a beautiful man.

August 10,2016 | Unregistered CommenterCraver

In Patricia Bosworth's biography of Montgomery Clift,she describes how he hung around the set after his scene was completed in order to watch Garland do hers.He wept openly when she broke down on the stand and after she finished her take,he went over to Kramer and said (his face still wet),"You know,she did that scene all wrong."

August 10,2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

glad to see fans of Maximillian's performance.Great in that movie.

August 10,2016 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

what else what else????he VAS my boyfriend!!!!

August 12,2016 | Unregistered Commenterjimmy

Tracy,Schell,Dietrich,Clift - Superb

Widmark - Good

Lancaster - Only weak link in film.

August 13,2016 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

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