Come Hear the Music Play: The Films of Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli

Programmed by Andrew McVea

Few families have come close to the effect that the Garland-Minnellis have had on film. From Judy Garland’s iconic and beloved turn as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz to Liza Minnelli’s fiery yet vulnerable performance as Sally Bowles in Cabaret, this mother-daughter duo has made an unmistakable mark on Hollywood and popular culture. Presented together, Minnelli and Garland provide a diverse and entertaining filmography, as well as a compelling mother-daughter dynamic that often bleeds onto the screen.

9/26/2016 @ 7:00 PM

Pigskin Parade

(David Butler, 1936) · When Garland first signed to MGM at age 13, executives weren’t sure what to do with her. Too old to be a child star and too young for most adult parts, she was often cast as the sibling or friend of the male lead. That's the case in Garland's feature film debut, a musical comedy in which she plays the sister of an Arkansas native scouted to play college football. Fortunately, despite this, Garland takes several opportunities to show off her stunning voice.

runtime: 93 min format: 35mm


10/3/2016 @ 7:00 PM

The Sterile Cuckoo

(Alan Pakula, 1969) · Although this was Minnelli's first leading role in a major film, Garland was initially opposed to her daughter taking the part of troubled college student Pookie Adams. Garland thought that Minnelli related a bit too much with the reclusive protagonist and it would hurt her career prospects. However, her dedication to the character's quirks ultimately paid off, and Minnelli picked up her first Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for the part.

runtime: 107 min format: 35mm


10/10/2016 @ 7:00 PM

The Wizard of Oz

(Victo Fleming, 1939) · If the 30s through 50s are truly the golden age of Hollywood musicals, then The Wizard of Oz is the gleaming emerald on the era’s crown. Beautifully transitioning from the sepia plains of Kansas to the technicolor wonderland of Oz, Dorothy’s journey has captured the imagination of generations and become a timeless classic. The film was named one of AFI’s top 10 movies of all time and has become Judy Garland’s most famous and enduring role.

runtime: 101 min format: 35mm


10/17/2016 @ 7:00 PM

A Star is Born

(George Cukor, 1954) · Garland had already been one of the biggest stars in Hollywood for nearly two decades when she portrayed Vicki Lester’s rise to fame in this musical. Her first role after leaving MGM is widely regarded as her best movie performance. After Garland lost that year's Academy Award for Best Actress to Grace Kelly, Groucho Marx reportedly called the academy's decision "the biggest robbery since Brink's," referencing the Great Brink’s Bank Robbery of 1950.

runtime: 176 min format: 35mm


10/24/2016 @ 7:00 PM


(Bob Fosse, 1972) · A successful stage performer, Minnelli was never really able to show off her musical theater chops on the big screen until she teamed up with Bob Fosse. The results managed to transcend the musical genre, tackling controversial topics like homosexuality, promiscuity, and abortion for the first time, all against the backdrop of Nazi Germany. Coming out three years after Garland’s death, Minnelli’s performance is also a stirring tribute to her late mother.

runtime: 125 min format: 35mm


11/07/2016 @ 7:00 PM

New York, New York

(Martin Scorsese, 1977) · Billed as a “film noir musical,” Scorsese’s New York, New York is an ambitious experiment mixing the grit of New Hollywood with the glamor of the classic musicals that Garland was famous for. Many of the film’s sets were reused from Garland’s movie musicals, and during filming Minnelli used the same dressing room and hairdresser that her mother had used in her own film career. The “Theme from New York, New York” was later immortalized by Frank Sinatra.

runtime: 155 min format: Digital


11/14/2016 @ 7:00 PM

Gay Purr-ee

(Abe Levitow, 1962) · In one of Garland’s last films, and her only animated feature, she teams up with Wizard of Oz songwriters Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg for a second time. Chock full of Parisian cat puns (at one point they go to Mewlon Rouge) this story of a country kitty was written by famed Looney Tunes director Chuck Jones. Sumptuously animated in a style inspired by artists such as Van Gogh, Monet, and Picasso, Gay Purr-ee is a treat for both the eyes and the ears.

runtime: 85 min format: 35mm


11/21/2016 @ 7:00 PM


(Steven Gordon, 1981) · Following her star-making performance in Cabaret, Minnelli was suddenly plagued by a string of failures. It took a romantic comedy about two endearingly troubled New Yorkers to bring her back. Arthur was a hit with critics and audiences, making it the fourth highest grossing film of the year. As Roger Ebert put it in a glowing review “Only someone with a heart of stone could fail to love a drunk like Arthur." Note: 35mm print is faded and red.

runtime: 97 min format: 35mm


11/28/2016 @ 7:00 PM

Meet Me in St. Louis

(Vincente Minnelli, 1944) · Set in the year leading up to the St. Louis World’s Fair, this musical follows the Smith family as it prepares to move away from the titular city. The film has since become associated with Christmastime due to Garland’s sublime rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Garland’s first film with director Vincente Minnelli, Liza's father. Their offscreen courtship led to marriage the next year.

runtime: 112 min format: 35mm


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