And here we are again, by request, with the last Judy Garland/ Gene Kelly movie Summer Stock, also starring Eddie Bracken, Gloria De Haven, and Phil Silvers.
When her two hired hands quit on her, Jane Falbury (Judy Garland) goes to town to see her future father-in-law about a new tractor to help her with the harvest. Upon returning, she finds a theatrical group setting up in her barn. She finds out they came with her sister Abigail (Gloria DeHaven) and her boyfriend, Joe Ross (Gene Kelly), and were planning to use her barn to put on a show. While furious at first, Jane agrees to let them do the show, as long as they help out on the farm. While her fiancé and her father-in-law object to the show, Jane starts falling in love with Joe, while her sister Abigail becomes too arrogant (believing the show is beneath her due to the influence of the “star” actor) and leaves, with Jane having to take her place.
To get into what I think of this movie, it is one I very much enjoy. Most of what I hear on the background information is all of Judy’s issues behind the scenes, which ended up resulting in this being her last film for MGM, her home studio since she got into the movies. Sadly, it is partly evident on screen, most visible by her weight issues (with the last song in the movie “Get Happy” making it extremely obvious, since it was filmed much later, after she had gotten her weight issues a little more under control). In spite of all that, I still think she, and everybody else, give wonderful performances that make this movie worth viewing.
The movie definitely seems reminiscent of the “let’s put on a show!”-type of movies that Judy had done with Mickey Rooney a decade earlier (and from what I gather, this was originally planned as another Judy Garland-Mickey Rooney team-up, if it weren’t for her health issues delaying the start of filming, and Mickey falling out of the good graces of audiences at that time). Part of what this movie is known for is Gene’s solo dance to “You, Wonderful You,” in which he famously built a dance around a squeaky floorboard and a newspaper on the floor. Of course, we also get him and Judy dancing together, with her looking at her best during the “Portland Fancy” at the square dance held at the barn. There are many other wonderful moments, but these are just some of the best worth mentioning. So I do recommend this one if you get a chance to see it!
This movie is available on DVD from Warner Home Video, and is about one hour, forty-nine minutes in length.
Update: On April 30, 2019, “Summer Stock” was released on Blu-ray by Warner Archive Collection. The previously available DVD had been well produced, but in the fifteen years since, technology has improved so much that Warner Archive was able to do an even better job! Now cleaned up, and giving us a much clearer picture that really shows off the original 3-strip Technicolor, this movie just looks and sounds fantastic! While I would still say the movie is flawed, the recent Blu-ray release with its spectacular transfer leaves me very much wanting to upgrade my previous score from a 9 to a 10! So, yes, this Blu-ray release is well worth it for fans new and old! “Forget your troubles, come on, get happy!” 😉
My Rating: 9/10
My Rating (after Blu-ray): 10/10
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