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|Index||51 reviews in total|
One reviewer claimed Judy Garland looked overweight and uncomfortable,
and to some extent, I agree. She was poorly costumed in ridiculous
looking overalls for much of the film. In the black/white show number,
while most of the girls wore sleek showgirl outfits, Ms. Garland's
dress looked like someone got it stuck in a sewing machine.
That said, I adored this movie because of the performances. Gene Kelly is absolutely stunning...a gorgeous man with a gorgeous voice and dance ability that would make the best Broadway "hoofer" jealous. His scenes and songs with Judy were top-notch.
I had never seen this film until recently, and I was delighted to see "Get Happy" was a part of this film. It's one of the highlights of the movie, along with a special tap dance routine Gene Kelly has with a creaky floorboard and a piece of newspaper (wow, is all I can say about that one).
See this movie because of the stars...they carried it. A truly fun and enjoyable film, despite its flaws.
I like it. Let me explain, I like Gene Kelly and I like Judy Garland so I
like this movie. It's a little weak on the plot, but there are a lot of good
reasons to see it. For example- this was Judy Garland's last film with
M-G-M. It has Get Happy in it, which is now included on practically all of
Judy's 'best of' CDs. It's great to hear, but watching the number is
marvelous. This was the year just before one of Kelly's major achievements,
An American in Paris, and it's nice to see the difference in his billing,
character, etc. Also, there's the romantic number 'You Wonderful You', which
bears a resemblance to 'You Were Meant For Me' in Singin' in the Rain with
the stage lights and stuff. It's obvious that Gene Kelly picked up some
things he liked and carried them with him. That's why I like this movie.
Yes, it's cute and breezy, but sometimes you just want a Garland/Kelly
P.S. And who could blame you? ; )
Some moments of this otherwise B-level film are quite astonishing, like Gene Kelly's solo dance with the newspaper or the conversation between Gloria De Haven and Eddie Bracken which gently reveals their affection for each other. But the film, more or less, belongs to Judy Garland- she of the frequently strained health and nerves, who nevertheless made it all look very easy. That said, this is a good one, albeit a corny one. The hillbilly number done with Kelly, Phil Silvers, and the chorus is a bit much, but the film does show off Garland's talent for low-key, witty comedy. And "Get Happy" aside, the 'Portland Fancy' square dance which seamlessly turns into a swing duet with Garland and Kelly is probably the most enjoyable moment of the whole film. (Considering Garland's strength was singing, her dancing was quite impressive.) And my favorite Garland solo is the moonlit ballad "Friendly Star," done almost all in closeup, with the star's beautiful dark eyes on the brink of tears through the whole number. It's a pleasant swan song for her MGM era, but thankfully, her greatest musical (A Star Is Born) was still yet to come.
Summer Stock was the third and last pairing of Gene Kelly and Judy
Garland by MGM. It's sad to think that there were no others because of
Judy's personal problems. She would have a breakdown and would not be
before the cameras again until four year later with A Star Is Born.
Judy barely got through Summer Stock. She had been replaced in Annie Get Your Gun by Betty Hutton and had not started Royal Wedding yet, but was also replaced there by Jane Powell. It was Gene Kelly's patience with her that got her through this film. Interesting also because Kelly was not known as the world's most patient man when working.
It was worth it because Summer Stock contains some of Judy's best musical moments. Most of the score was written by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon, but someone was inspired at MGM to give Judy Get Happy by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler. That is half of the team that wrote Over the Rainbow for her. Get Happy became another song identified with Judy Garland the rest of her life and into her legend.
But a favorite of mine is Howdy Neighbor. I do so love how that number is staged with Judy riding on a tractor through the fields and on the road near her farm. Catch her at the very end of the song and you can visibly see her breathing heavy. She was obviously under a strain doing this number and in fact the whole film.
Kelly doesn't do too bad either with a song that became identified with him, You Wonderful You. I still remember him singing it to Miss Piggy when guesting on the Muppets.
Summer Stock is another variation on a backstage romance and the discovery of hidden talent. Judy's sister Gloria DeHaven invites the cast and crew of her show to stay at their farm in Connecticut. But Judy's not happy with it. Of course Kelly charms her and discovers along the way who has the real talent in the family.
The film holds up well today and the talent of Judy Garland and Gene Kelly is absolutely eternal.
Judy & Gene...what a wonderful Hollywood combination! It's great to see two all-around entertainers working together. Great movie, great songs and dance numbers. Plot was a little weak, but a great musical covers a multitude of sins. I had trouble in seeing Judy as a farmgirl from the country. She had already played this role, sort of, in "Wizard Of Oz", but she was younger then. Like I said.. a good musical makes it all okay. Marjorie Mains was great as always. She had done the "Ma Kettle" role so well for so long that she had taken to playing various versions of it the rest of her life. Eddie Braken as Orville, Judy's fiancee in the movie was good casting. Phil Silvers steals the show in scenes he is in but can be a little grating at times with his silliness here. It all leads up to Judy's performance in "Get happy" though, doesn't it? I mean, you see this glorious performance and the movie suddenly goes from good to "classic". "Get Happy" would soon become one of Judy's signature songs. It's very obvious that 1949-50 were hard times for Judy. Her weight was yo-yoing (Compare the scenes in the beginning where she is in overalls to her singing "Get Happy"), in a few scenes she does not seem fully present or focused. But as another writer here has said, she could do more on her bad days then most everyone else could do on their best. She seemed happiest when she was singing. Always.
To look at "Summer Stock" you wouldn't think there were any challenges.
Everyone seems to be having a happy time.
The remarkable thing is how Judy Garland's weight problems, due to over eating and drugs, were covered up. She looks fresh and bubbly, along with here co-star, Gene Kelly, who was pushing 40, and hankering to get on to more ambitious film projects.
The two are perfectly paired and, with the comedy of Phil Silvers and "other woman" of Gloria DeHaven, this musical comes off swimmingly.
I really love Judy's renditions of the joyous "Hello, Neighbor," the lovely "Friendly Star," and the show-stopping, "Get Happy." Her voice is in fine condition, and is a pleasure to hear. Kelly dances up a storm, and the entire production smiles with good cheer.
As one of Judy's songs go, "If You Feel Like Singing . . . Sing!" She does, and we are the lucky recipients.
I actually made a point to see this film after reading about Miss Garland. The final "Get Happy" scene was shot weeks after the film wrapped and Miss Garland was sent to a "clinic"...she was called back only weeks later and fell into a deep depression and was, suppposedly, not in good good shape mentally as she shot that scene but if you notice, she is at least 20 pounds lighter in the scene than the rest of the film. I think this just shows how brilliant Miss Garland really was, to be so troubled but still nail the scene and song that would later be a staple in her act...she truly had something in her that few have ever and will ever possess.
In the canon of MGM musicals of the Golden Age, "Summer Stock" is an overlooked and underrated pleasure. As relaxed as a summer day spent on a farm like the one in the film, this soft shoe of a musical doesn't aim for greatness, though it very nearly reaches it on one or two occasions. Filmed in sunny, bandbox Technicolor, the films opens on Judy Garland singing in her morning shower. She is Jane Falbury, the mistress of a New England farm going to seed. Sassy Marjorie Main is the maid and cook, pretty Gloria DeHaven is her irresponsible sister who has run off to New York to become an actress, and Eddie Bracken is Garland's hopelessly inept fiancee, manager of the local general store. Garland's wry way with a comic line is richly evident in this film, as she trys to deal with one exasperating annoyance after another. She is in superb singing voice, and most charming when she holds one long, belting note to the very end and then, looking into the camera, nearly collapses with mock-exhaustion. Into this bucolic chaos lands handsome Gene Kelly and his troupe of Broadway gypsies, promised by DeHaven that they can use her sister's barn for a summer stock production of Kelly's new musical. With sarcastic assist by Phil Silvers, Kelly sets about convincing a skeptical Garland that one hand can wash the other: if she consents to the barn being used as a theatre, the troupe will help save her foundering farm by performing the daily chores and harvest planting. Of course, all manner of of mishap and misunderstanding ensue; happily, none of them stand in the way of Garland and Kelly performing a handful of enjoyable numbers. After Astaire and Rogers, Garland and Kelly were surely filmdom's most sublime song and dance duo, and they perform one dance here, a jazzed-up "Portland Fancy", which nearly stops the show. Apart from their duets, they shine in solo numbers which are manna to fans of great talent. Both stars ascended greater cinematic heights after this film, Kelly in "Singin In The Rain" and Garland at Warner Bros. for "A Star Is Born", but here in this simple tale are found some of the most compelling examples of their style and grace: Garland singing the yearning "Friendly Star" in the summer moonlight, Kelly whistling "You Wonderful You" on a lonely stage with a discarded newspaper as his partner. But finally, the highlight of the film is to be had by Garland in the big finale at the end. Having been cajoled into joining the troupe for their pre-Broadway opening in her barn, Garland and a phalanx of chorus boys jump off the screen with the Harold Arlen standard "Get Happy". Heralded by the blare of the MGM Studio Orchestra brass section, Garland steps out from behind the black-suited line of men wearing only a tuxedo jacket, black pumps, and a man's hat set rakishly atop her head. Looking chic and sexy, dancing with the boys, she makes the Arlen chestnut her own, and uses her considerable show biz muscle to pull down one of the most memorable performances in musical history. Garland's electrifying number dominates the film's reputation, and deservedly so. It is for one to still marvel how this diminutive, talented actress could, for five or so minutes, turn a breezy, unambitious musical into a great one.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It was her last MGM musical, and one of her best. But she was really
troublesome in the making of it, so MGM fired her and her career (which
included at least two more great performances) never recovered in the
movies. That is how SUMMER STOCK is recalled today - the film that
wrote "finish" to Judy Garland's film stardom at MGM.
But SUMMER STOCK is also the film that gave her her last chance to appear opposite Gene Kelly and to play a story line that she was familiar with. For here Judy returns to the story line of the musicals she made in the early 1940s with Mickey Rooney, regarding "putting on the show". The difference is that she and Mickey and the others were teenagers (or supposedly teenagers) showing up the dubious grown-ups. Here it is grown-ups putting on a show for an out-of-town preview in a small town.
Judy is living in a New England town, where her family has old, old roots (at one point we learn her great great grandfather set up an anti-theater law in 1698!). She and her sister, Gloria DeHaven, own a farm. Judy has been courted, and is engaged, to Eddie Bracken, the son of the town banker Ray Collins. Bracken is his typical weak type, with eyeglasses and hay fever. Collins is typically fatherly, but a bit of a bully to his son (not for any bad reasons). He looks forward to the marriage as a way of uniting the two oldest families of the area. And he even does Garland a favor, giving her a new tractor for her farm at cost.
DeHaven has always been the pampered younger daughter. She has been dating Kelly and invites him and the cast of his musical review production to put it on in the barn of her farm. The musical not only has Kelly as director, producer, and star, but also has Phil Silvers and Carleton Carpenter as his assistants (in Silvers' case, supposed assistant as he's a walking disaster area), and also been lucky enough to get a famous leading man named Keith (Hans Conreid, effective in his brief part but all too brief). They descend on the farm and Garland and her cook and helper Marjorie Main are uncertain about what exactly to do. Collins and Bracken are not too helpful. In fact their parochial attitude to theater people is very hostile.
As the film progresses Garland slowly gets dragged into the production, especially as DeHaven's interest flags. In the meantime the relationship of Bracken and Garland starts cracking seriously as he gets suspicious of the intentions of Kelly towards his intended.
The numbers are pretty good, particularly the songs "Howdy Neighbor", "You Wonderful You", "Heavenly Music", and the last minute show stopper, "Get Happy!" Oddly enough, in the discussions I see on this thread, nobody notes the ridiculous tune that Conreid (it's not his voice) and DeHaven sing "Alone on a Lonely Island". It is done in such a way to spoof the stiff, overly rich voice of Conreid's "Heath". As it does not show up in the final production it probably was only meant for that character.
It is too bad that SUMMER STOCK was her last MGM film...but at least Judy left on a high note.
I think many of the comments posted reflect what many of the posters
know about the agonizing production of Judy's final film for MGM. This
simple, very corny movie took months and months to shoot and Judy was
either late or not appearing or collapsing. Okay. But if we didn't know
that, how would we view the finished product? In my opinion none of the
stress shows. Garland is by no means "fat" She is at the weight
nature--if not MGM--intended. She's on the plump side. She is
exquisitely photographed, and well-costumed. She's a farm girl; the
over-alls make sense, as well as working to conceal her a bit. The
dresses are flattering and designed to give her shape and height. Her
face is lovely, still. (Four years later, in "A Star Is Born" she looks
harsh and a decade older than her actual age.) Her voice is in top
form, especially on "Evening Star" an unjustly forgotten gem. Gene
Kelly looks fantastic and gives his all to a movie he didn't want to
do. He felt, justifiably, that it was an old Mickey/Judy re-tread. And
now, literally, a show was being performed in a barn! But he did it for
Judy, who'd given him his movie break in "For Me and My Gal" back in
It goes on, and meanders, as so many MGM musical do, but it is still a satisfying, enjoyable example of the genre.
And, for all the "hokcum", sentiment and predictable outcomes, "Summer Stock" also offers Judy's best dancing sequence, ever--in any film. For Miss Garland to have risen to the challenge offered, in a movie that offered so few, and in her emotional distress...well, that's genius, folks.
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