Sign in to follow this  
HoldenIsHere

SUMMER STOCK

21 posts in this topic

I've been wanting to see this movie for quite awhile so I am glad that Fan Programmer Sara Harmon picked it.

 

It's probably best known for Judy Garland's "Get Happy" number near the end of the movie. I'm surprised TCM does not air the film more often since that sequence is so famous.

 

I am always impressed at how good an actor Judy Garland is when I watch one of her films. I think her acting talents are often under appreciated because she is so extraordinarily gifted musically. When she speaks "lines" in a movie, she sounds as if she is speaking spontaneously and with meaning beyond the actual words. I doubt that she studied Method acting so I think her ability must be one of her other natural gifts. She definitely does not have that patterned delivery with predictable pauses and shading on the "obvious" words that many of the stars from that era had. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love the number on the tractor: "When you work for Mother Nature, you get paid by Father Time." Clever. You're right about her seeming spontaneous when delivering dialogue. I think it may have failed her a few times in "big" scenes in other films where she knew the pressure was on and you could sense that the actress as well as the character was struggling. Even though it was  a somewhat inappropriate ingenue role, she was as charming as ever in "Summer Stock", especially for someone who had reached such a professional low point as being fired from her previous film. The performance which best shows the spontaneous style you're speaking about is in "The Clock", I think. And in "Easter Parade" her character has the same kind of timid grace as Fred Astaire helps her to believe in herself. You're right about her lack of "polish' as an actress being her best asset. Generations of film watchers have responded to it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love "Summer Stock" while it's definitely not the best film in either of Judy Garland or Gene Kelly's filmographies, it is entertaining. 

 

I love the "dance off" that they have in the barn.  Judy Garland is more than able to hold her own with Gene Kelly-- which is amazing considering that she wasn't known as a dancer.  I also love Gene Kelly's dance with the creaky board and newspaper.  His routines are always so inventive and interesting.  He created a dance out of nothing.  Judy Garland and Gene Kelly made such a great team.  I'm happy that they were able to make three films together and wish they could have made more.  From what I've read, both were there for each other and supported each other immensely throughout the filming of their movies.  

 

Judy's "Get Happy" number is obviously the highlight of the film.  It was also filmed a few months after the rest of filming had wrapped and it is obvious.  Judy suddenly looks a lot thinner and sexier than she did in the other part of the film.  

 

My least favorite song is the hillbilly dog song that Phil Silvers and Gene Kelly perform.  It's so annoying.  The best part are the dogs at the end.  I heard that Judy was supposed to be in this number too; but she didn't show up that day for filming.  Can't say I blame her.  

 

I read an excellent Judy Garland biography a couple years ago.  Her life was just so sad.  While it's unfortunate that she died at 47, it's not surprising.  It is surprising that she made it as long as she did.  She just kept seeming to surround herself with people who wanted to take advantage of her.  It sounds like MGM and her mother single-handedly destroyed her self-esteem.  Louis B. Mayer referred to her as "[his] little hunchback."  She was also referred to as pudgy, chunky, and all other synonyms.  She was a teenager.  They pumped her full of drugs to help her lose weight, which also kept her awake.  She was given pills to sleep.  She was given pills wake her back up.  It was a vicious cycle and succeeded in making her an addict for life.  She had the stage mother to end all stage mothers.  It's too bad that she wasn't able to kick all her bad habits and erase all the bad people from her life.  She was an insanely talented woman.  Had she made it past 1969, she would have for sure won the Oscar that she was robbed of in 1954.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not so sure that Judy "wasn't known as a dancer". It's always been my impression that choreographers and dance partners all felt like she had a natural aptitude for it and was very quick to pick up dance routines. In "Easter Parade" she does a "bad" ballroom routine with Fred Astaire before his character decides to let her be herself, and it's priceless. You have to be pretty good to know how to be the right amount of "off". I honestly can't think of a dance routine ever where I felt as though she was faking it or in over her head. She could keep pace with the best.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not so sure that Judy "wasn't known as a dancer". It's always been my impression that choreographers and dance partners all felt like she had a natural aptitude for it and was very quick to pick up dance routines. In "Easter Parade" she does a "bad" ballroom routine with Fred Astaire before his character decides to let her be herself, and it's priceless. You have to be pretty good to know how to be the right amount of "off". I honestly can't think of a dance routine ever where I felt as though she was faking it or in over her head. She could keep pace with the best.

 

I think I understand why spreadracer would say Judy 'wasn't known as a dancer'.    Take Ginger Rogers.   Judy and Ginger are similar in that each was a fine actress,  singer and dancer.     But one could say that Ginger wasn't known as a singer in the same way that Judy wasn't known as a dancer; i.e. that for each of them that talent was third on their list.  

 

Either way,  Judy does 'keep pace with the best' as it relates to dancing,  singing and acting.    (and so does Ginger).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

My least favorite song is the hillbilly dog song that Phil Silvers and Gene Kelly perform.  It's so annoying.  The best part are the dogs at the end.  I heard that Judy was supposed to be in this number too; but she didn't show up that day for filming.  Can't say I blame her.  

 

 

What I found amusing about that number is that the whole illusion of it being performed before a live audience was shattered by the way that more and more dogs were on the stone each time Gene Kelly and Phil Silvers made their way back to it during the song.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gotta love it! Complete with red Technicolor lips even. Totally impressed by what good sports the band were. Btw, Rufus joins Renee Fleming on her Christmas album to sing "In the Bleak Midwinter" as a tribute to his mother and they chat briefly before they do it live on her PBS special. Anyway, just watched "Summer Stock" when it was shown again. Have you seen the "Mr. Monotony" outtake from "Easter Parade" (It's in "That's Entertainment III".) in which she wears the same fedora and jacket a number of years previously?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gotta love it! Complete with red Technicolor lips even. Totally impressed by what good sports the band were. Btw, Rufus joins Renee Fleming on her Christmas album to sing "In the Bleak Midwinter" as a tribute to his mother and they chat briefly before they do it live on her PBS special. Anyway, just watched "Summer Stock" when it was shown again. Have you seen the "Mr. Monotony" outtake from "Easter Parade" (It's in "That's Entertainment III".) in which she wears the same fedora and jacket a number of years previously?

 

I have not seen the "Mr. Monotony" outtake. I will look for it.

 

Rufus Wainwight and his father Loudon appear as Cocoanut Grove vocalists in the movie THE AVIATOR.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like SUMMER STOCK  a lot. It has a wonderful crew of talent in front of and behind the camera and despite Judy's well-documented offscreen problems (which caused the shooting of the picture to drag on for six months), everyone onscreen seems to be having a good time.

 

Although Judy is overweight and overage for her role, she gives her usual cheerful, open-hearted performance, and she's well-matched by Gene Kelly as her co-star/romantic lead. (Kelly's "opening night" speech to her: "You're wonderful. Everything I'd always hoped for in a leading lady." seems unusually heartfelt.) The score by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon produced some good songs which the cast performs with aplomb and style. I can see though, why MGM felt another sock musical number was needed and summonsed Judy to perform her now classic rendition of "Get Happy" (a song she herself selected).

Although I do like the film, I don't think it could have been done nearly as well at any other studio. Whatever other problems MGM may have put Judy and their other stars through, professionally those in MGM's Freed Unit, had the best resources available to them, in front of and behind the camera, of any musical performers at any studio.

 

(I realize that SUMMER STOCK was produced by the Joe Pasternak unit, but Judy's and Gene's presence, not to mention that of director Charles Walters and composer Harry Warren, make it seem much more like a Freed Unit musical, if a lesser one, than a Pasternak musical.)

 

If anyone really wants to see Judy's deleted "Mr. Monotony" number from EASTER PARADE, they should check out the 2 disc DVD set of EP which includes several "outtakes" of Judy performing the song. (I imagine this material is also included on the Bluray edition of EP, but since I don't own a Blu-ray player yet, I can't guarantee it.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't remember the title of the song, but Gene Kelly and Phil Silvers perform a duet in the movie.  Originally, this was to be a trio, including Judy, but her constant delays during the filming caused them to turn this into a duet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't remember the title of the song, but Gene Kelly and Phil Silvers perform a duet in the movie.  Originally, this was to be a trio, including Judy, but her constant delays during the filming caused them to turn this into a duet.

I think you're thinking of "Heavenly Music," the number with Kelly & Silvers as singing hillbillies whose caterwauling attracts a gaggle of barking dogs by the end of the number.

 

Even if she wasn't actually ill on the day the number was shot, I wouldn't be surprised if Judy called in sick or bowed out of performing it, given its' silly presentation.

 

Interestingly, in the scene where Eddie Bracken and Gloria DeHaven arrive at the performance so that a now repentant DeHaven can "take over" for Judy, we see Judy just coming off the stage with Gene and she's dressed in the "hillbilly" costume, so I guess the impression is supposed to be that her character DID perform the number at some point during the show, even if we (the movie audience) never actually see Judy performing it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Markus, that is an interesting take on the scene.  I had forgotten that Judy did appear in the hillbilly costume.  Thanks for your insight.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with you, HoldenIsHere. When I first started watching some of Judy's films, I didn't quite know what to expect. I knew she was a marvelous musician, but had no clue she had such good acting chops until watching Summer Stock and Presenting Lily Mars (1943). I remember reading something somewhere about how she was having some issues with figuring out how to play a scene until Mickey Rooney told her to act the way she sang, and from then on, she began to figure out how to act in a scene.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with you, HoldenIsHere. When I first started watching some of Judy's films, I didn't quite know what to expect. I knew she was a marvelous musician, but had no clue she had such good acting chops until watching Summer Stock and Presenting Lily Mars (1943). I remember reading something somewhere about how she was having some issues with figuring out how to play a scene until Mickey Rooney told her to act the way she sang, and from then on, she began to figure out how to act in a scene.

Sounds like Mickey gave her some great advice.

 

What I like about SUMMER STOCK is that she is surrounded by a bunch of pros who bring out the best in her. Who doesn't love Phil Silvers and Eddie Bracken in this movie?? :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While this film on the surface appears to be an average "Let's put on a show in the barn" movie, the strength of Gene Kelly and Judy Garland's performances elevate it to something more.  I've read that Gene Kelly wasn't a big fan of the film, but he did it as a favor to Garland to repay her for all the support she gave him at the beginning of his career in For Me and My Gal.  

 

I really like how Judy and Gene's characters progress throughout the film.  One of the most powerful scenes in my opinion, is when Judy, realizing that she's falling for Gene, sings "Friendly Star."  She looks up at the stars with watery eyes as she sings "to" Gene.  Unbeknownst to her, Gene is outside and hears her song and knows it is about him.  He's also finding himself falling for Judy.

 

Eddie Bracken is whatever.  He was fine, but not a standout or anything.  His funniest scene is when he interrupts rehearsal to stop Judy from allowing this play to be produced on her farm.  She informs him that not only is she in the play, but she loves it and has no intention of quitting.  She then gives him an ultimatum stating that if he does anything to stop the play, she'll end their engagement.  The look she gives him afterward cracks me up.   

 

Phil Silvers is one of the most annoying people in movies.  I disliked his bumbling character in Cover Girl and dislike his bumbling character in Summer Stock.  He grates on my nerves.

 

Marjorie Main however, is hilarious.  I love her no nonsense attitude and assertiveness. 

 

I loved the "Portland Fancy" dance-off between Gene and Judy.  Kudos to Judy for being able to match Kelly step for step.  

 

The best number in the film is "Get Happy."  This is an iconic Judy Garland song.

 

The worst number is definitely "Heavenly Music."  This might possibly be the worst musical number ever.  The best thing about the song are the dogs.  This musical number was annoying and stupid.  I can see why Judy bailed on being in this number.  She may have called in "sick," but I think she knew what she was doing. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

Phil Silvers is one of the most annoying people in movies.  I disliked his bumbling character in Cover Girl and dislike his bumbling character in Summer Stock.  He grates on my nerves.

 

.

 

The worst number is definitely "Heavenly Music."  This might possibly be the worst musical number ever.  The best thing about the song are the dogs.  This musical number was annoying and stupid.  I can see why Judy bailed on being in this number.  She may have called in "sick," but I think she knew what she was doing. 

 

 

Yes, Phil Silvers is extremely annoying.

The only thing I ever liked him in was the episode of GILLIGAN'S ISLAND where the castaway perform a musical version of Hamlet. 

 

 

Judy Garland was wise to stay out of the "Heavenly Music" number.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, Phil Silvers is extremely annoying.

The only thing I ever liked him in was the episode of GILLIGAN'S ISLAND where the castaway perform a musical version of Hamlet. 

 

 

Judy Garland was wise to stay out of the "Heavenly Music" number.

Kelly's cast was supposedly rehearsing a musical play, right? Presumably, there was a plot right? I would have loved to have known how all the songs in the final show related to one another. How does "Heavenly Music" segue into "Get Happy" ?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds like Mickey gave her some great advice.

 

What I like about SUMMER STOCK is that she is surrounded by a bunch of pros who bring out the best in her. Who doesn't love Phil Silvers and Eddie Bracken in this movie?? :)

 

 

Kelly's cast was supposedly rehearsing a musical play, right? Presumably, there was a plot right? I would have loved to have known how all the songs in the final show related to one another. How does "Heavenly Music" segue into "Get Happy" ?

Seriously Speed you want logic in a movie musical?  I guess it was some sort of variety show - not "Oklahoma"...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seriously Speed you want logic in a movie musical? I guess it was some sort of variety show - not "Oklahoma"...

I am aware that the film is a musical and I wasn't saying that I needed logic. However, up until the end, the songs worked with the plot. They'd been rehearsing their show, which appeared like it was somewhat a play--however, the "Memory Island" number seems like it was completely abandoned and there are all these random numbers at the end that have nothing to do with one another. Even if we were to assume that "Memory Island" was already performed, the songs don't relate to one another at all. They weren't rehearsing a variety show. If they changed formats, it wasn't made clear in the film.

 

Despite all that, I enjoy 95% of the film. If they were to eliminate the horribly annoying Phil Silvers and that awful "Heavenly Music" number, I may enjoy 100% of the film.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am aware that the film is a musical and I wasn't saying that I needed logic. However, up until the end, the songs worked with the plot. They'd been rehearsing their show, which appeared like it was somewhat a play--however, the "Memory Island" number seems like it was completely abandoned and there are all these random numbers at the end that have nothing to do with one another. Even if we were to assume that "Memory Island" was already performed, the songs don't relate to one another at all. They weren't rehearsing a variety show. If they changed formats, it wasn't made clear in the film.

 

Despite all that, I enjoy 95% of the film. If they were to eliminate the horribly annoying Phil Silvers and that awful "Heavenly Music" number, I may enjoy 100% of the film.

I think that some of your confusion may come from the fact that Hollywood rarely got it right when they made movies about Broadway shows. We usually see snippets of numbers throughout these movies and they rarely seem cohesive. Hollywood apparently was slow to update its thinking about what was happening in East Coast theater. Back in the 1930's and earlier, New York musical theater was mostly revue-style shows with numbers which were somewhat unrelated. That eventually changed, but movies still seemed to perpetuate the idea that Broadway shows were still a kind of musical juke box. The irony of this is that Broadway seems to moving back toward the "juke box" format of unrelated numbers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us