Saturday, October 2, 2010

In the Good Old Summertime (1949)

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of reading through a comprehensive biography on the life of Judy Garland called "Get Happy". Once in a while I really crave a good and juicy bio, and this one on Garland's life and legacy does not disappoint.
"In the Good Old Summertime" is a film I picked up at random at a recent trip to my local library branch. I saw 3 components that made me reach for it; it's a musical, it's in technicolour AND it stars Garland. Also helps that handsome Van Johnson was in it. Before proceeding to watch it, I flipped to the section of the bio where it describes Judy's state of mind during filming. You see, Judy had countless highs and lows throughout her life, and always in extremes. I felt relieved and excited when finding out that this film was during one of her highs; it is so obvious too in her performance throughout the movie. The director made absolutely certain that Judy was handled very delicately and with good spirits by all cast and crew despite her reputation for being late, not showing up and throwing fits.

The happy/positive atmosphere helps to make everything about this movie sparkle. Inspired by the James Stewart film "Little Shop Around the Corner"; "In the Good Old Summertime" is a story of 2 unknowing coworkers who feud relentlessly during the work day, but communicate to each other through secret love letters during the nights; neither of them knowing it's the other who they are writing to. It's a good, clean and witty family film. The musical numbers are light hearted and fun. The romance and chemistry between Garland and Johnson is just right. Combine that all in the brightness of technicolour and the comfortable, all-American feeling being set at the turn of the century makes this film a pleasant escape. Note little Liza Minelli above starring at the end as the couple's daughter! How adorable.

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