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As a favor to her actress sister Abigail, New England farmer Jane Falbury allows a group of actors use her barn as a theater for their play. In return, the cast and crew have to help her with the farm chores. During rehearsals, Jane finds herself falling for the show's director, Joe Ross, who also happens to be engaged to the show's leading lady-- Abigail.Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <email@example.com>
After principal photography has been completed, it was decided that a showstopping number was needed for Judy Garland, to put a 'button' on the picture. Throughout the making of the film, Garland was having problems, and being overweight was one of them. The fact that Annie Get Your Gun (1950) -- from which she had been fired and was now starring Betty Hutton -- was filming on an adjacent soundstage was another. For the showstopper-to-be, Garland herself chose the song "Get Happy." While Saul Chaplin arranged the number, Garland spent two weeks with a hypnotist in Santa Barbara, returning to MGM twenty pounds lighter. She spent two days with Chaplin and Roger Edens, rehearsed Charles Walters' staging for two days, pre-recorded the vocal in one perfect take (not unusual for her), and the entire sequence was photographed in less than two days. See more »
At the beginning of "Wonderful You" you can see the shadow of the camera move across Garland and Kelly. See more »
Joe D. Ross:
We're trying to tell a story with music, and song, and dance. Well, not just with words. For instance, if the boy tells the girl that he loves her, he just doesn't say it, he sings it.
Why doesn't he just say it?
Joe D. Ross:
Why? Oh, I don't know, but it's kind of nice.
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In this simple musical tale are compelling evidence of Garland and Kelly's grace and style.
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.
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