I Could Go on Singing is pretty weighty cargo. Although handsomely mounted and endowed with Judy Garland, one of the great stylists of her generation, the production is constructed on a frail and fuzzy story foundation.
Originally titled The Lonely Stage, the picture is a blend of two primary elements. Musically, it is a kind of femme Jolson Story. Dramatically, it is a switch on the old yarn about the child who one day discovers his parents had adopted him.
Screenplay from a story by Robert Dozier, has Garland as Jenny Bowman, a celebrated Yank singer who, after her second divorce, decides while in London to look up the medic with whom years ago she had an affair which culminated in the birth of a son. It had been agreed upon at the time that the doctor (Dirk Bogarde) would raise the son, together with his wife (now rather conveniently deceased), as an adopted child, and that Jenny would butt out of her domestic picture.
She now persuades the doctor to let her see the lad, and it isn’t long before the true parental beans are spilled. But for some rather foggy reason (which appears to have ended up on the cutting room floor), the boy elects to play it cool and keep his distance from his new-found mater.
A soulful performance is etched by Garland who gives more than she gets from the script. She also belts over four numbers as only she can belt them, yet the impact of a live Garland stage performance is not duplicated on the screen on this occasion. The camera tends to remain in too tight. Bogarde seems somewhat ill-at-ease in his role, employing two basic expressions – pain and a kind of confused ‘what am I doing here?’ or ‘somebody must be kidding.’
Garland was rather on the plumpish side when this film was shot, and neither costumes nor hairstyles are very becoming to her.