Made less than 10 years after Judy Garland’s death, this biopic covers the star’s career before she arrived in the land of Oz. Nostalgically directed by Judy’s contemporary Jackie Cooper, Rainbow provides a restrained insight into the origins of the troubles that beset one of filmdom’s most dynamic entertainers.
Some of this blame is attributed to Judy’s dysfunctional home-life. Her father’s homosexuality drives her mother to find solace in promoting her daughter's talents, and while there is a temptation to portray Mrs Gumm as the quintessential stage mother, both of Judy’s parents are depicted as being loving and supportive.
If there is a villain in this piece, it's the head of MGM Louis B. Mayer. In an argument with Judy's mother over the welfare of her daughter, Mayer states bluntly that "You are talking about a child. I am talking about a valuable property". Though 'Uncle Louie' is moved to tears when he needs to chastise his child stars, he thinks nothing of feeding Judy pills to control her weight, and other pills to combat their side-effects.
In the role of Judy Garland, Andrea McArdle doesn’t attempt to mimic Judy’s voice, instead giving her own powerful renditions of such hits as "You Made Me Love You" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". Yet she fails to capture any of the star's vivacity. It seems that in the end, Judy’s ruby slippers were just too big for any one talent to fill.
Judy Garland did not sing "I'll Get By As Long As I Have You" on the radio to her dying father. The song she sang that night was "Zing Went the Strings of my Heart".
According to the film's director Jackie Cooper, the advice Roger Edens gave to Judy Garland to bring her emotions out through her singing was given to her by Cooper himself.
"We didn’t want a lot of stuff people saw Judy do in Babes on Broadway or Babes in Arms. People would compare. Besides, we couldn’t afford those big productions. So we did things the movie-going audience never saw – night clubs, auditions, recording studios…The only song which will be done as it was in a film is “Dear Mr Gable” from Broadway Melody of 1938. That one is too famous to change."