Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… Take Me Out To The Ball Game (1949)

Batter Up! We’re here now for the second Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly film, the 1949 musical Take Me Out To The Ball Game, which also stars Esther Williams and Betty Garrett.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Moan & Groan, Inc. (1929)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 1 (1929-1930) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 20 minutes, 41 seconds)

The kids ignore the warning of Officer Kennedy (Edgar Kennedy), and go dig for treasure in a haunted house. Personally, I enjoyed this one! While there are no real spooks here, it feels like a good one to watch around Halloween. The bit with the Japanese finger trap is one of the best gags in the short, particularly when Officer Kennedy and his superior both get their hands stuck in one. There might be too much focus on the adults here, but it’s not bad enough for me to trash this one. I can certainly say that I look forward to watching this one again!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Cat And The Mermouse (1949)

(available as an extra on the Take Me Out To The Ball Game Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 37 seconds)

Tom the cat is all set for a relaxing day at the beach, when Jerry the mouse interrupts his rest. This was another enjoyable Tom & Jerry cartoon. It quickly becomes obvious that the short goes into a dream sequence when Tom goes underwater (and seems to be “breathing” just fine), but that’s not a problem. There’s some fun with the underwater creatures like a swordfish and an octopus that join in the chasing. Other than that, it’s still a typical Tom & Jerry cartoon, but that’s still very much a point in its favor (as is the laughter it provides)!

And Now For The Main Feature…

During the off season, baseball players Dennis Ryan (Frank Sinatra) and Eddie O’Brien (Gene Kelly) tour the country on the vaudeville stage, but it’s time to return for spring training! When they rejoin their team, however, they find that the team owner has died, and a distant relative has inherited the team. They soon find out the new owner is K. C. Higgins (Esther Williams), and she knows her stuff! Dennis immediately falls for her, but Eddie doesn’t get along with her at all. Once the season starts, Dennis finds himself being chased by Shirley Delwyn (Betty Garrett). At a big party for the team, Dennis realizes that he likes Shirley, and Eddie finds out that Katherine Higgins likes him! Of course, there are also some gamblers causing trouble by trying to fix things so that the team won’t win the pennant.

The idea for Take Me Out To The Ball Game came from Gene Kelly (although some claim it was very similar to the 1930 MGM musical They Learned About Women), and he brought in Stanley Donen to help finish the story. They were able to sell the idea to producer Arthur Freed for $25,000. At first, the film was considered as a follow-up to Anchors Aweigh, with Kathryn Grayson to be cast as the female lead. That didn’t happen, and Judy Garland was considered next. However, her health issues resulted in her being replaced by Esther Williams. Busby Berkeley was hired to direct the film, but he struggled enough that Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen ended up directing a lot of the film themselves (although they gave Berkeley the onscreen credit, his final credit as a film director). The film turned out to be a success, and Arthur Freed decided to officially give Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen the directing reins for the movie On The Town (which would again pair up Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly, with Jules Munshin and Betty Garrett coming along for the ride).

Of the three Sinatra-Kelly films, I consider this one to be the most fun! I really enjoy the music, from the title tune, to “Strictly U.S.A,” to “The Hat My Dear Old Father Wore Upon St. Patrick’s Day!” Just about all of the music can easily get stuck in my head whenever I watch it! The humor generally works for me, too, especially how much they poke fun at Sinatra and how light he was, whether it be by Betty Garrett carrying him over her shoulder with ease, or all the stuff he was trying to eat to get his weight up during the spring training montage. At one hour, thirty-three minutes in length, this movie does away with the length problem of the earlier Anchors Aweigh, and everything seems to fit so much better. And the addition of Jules Munshin as Gene and Frank’s buddy manages to make things work, especially for the little comedy bit that the three of them do for goofing around for the fans a few times before some of the games.

Now, is the movie perfect? No, it does have its problems. There are aspects that feel like a re-tread of Anchors Aweigh, with Frank again playing a guy who is shy around women, and needs the help of ladies’ man Gene Kelly . Not to mention Frank falling for one gal, only to realize he likes somebody else while Gene falls for the first girl. Plus, the song “Yes, Indeedy” seems to fill the “locker room talk” song role that “I Begged Her” filled in Anchors Aweigh (although, given the choice between the two, I’ll live with “Yes, Indeedy,” as the other song is too slow and would be better removed from that movie entirely). I’d also say that the ending is a little weak. From what I’ve read in the biography Gene Kelly: A Life Of Dance And Dreams by Alvin Yudkoff, Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen were never able to come up with a proper ending to their story, so we got stuck with a song-and-dance where the four leads broke character. Personally, I’ve seen worse endings, so it’s not a huge problem. And, for some, the fact that actress Esther Williams, known for her underwater ballets, barely spends any time in the water, might also be a minor problem with this movie (although, to be fair, I’m not sure how they could realistically fit an underwater ballet into the story). Still, she is enough of an athlete herself that she seems to fit the role better than either Kathryn Grayson or Judy Garland would have. Even with these issues, I do enjoy this movie very much, and would highly recommend it!

This movie is available on DVD from Warner Home Video.

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… Take Me Out To The Ball Game (1949)

On July 20, 2021, Take Me Out To The Ball Game was released on Blu-ray by Warner Archive Collection. I don’t know the exact source of the transfer, since Warner Archive is no longer doing podcasts or press releases via social media, and their newsletter didn’t mention it. My best GUESS is that they did a 4K scan of the original Technicolor negatives. Whether I’m right or not, one thing I can say: this new transfer looks GREAT!! Seriously, they’ve really brought out the color in this movie, and the detail is just exquisite! Plain and simple, they hit a home run with this one! Admittedly, whether you look at it as a bases-loaded grand slam or just a simple home run depends on your opinion of the film itself. Me, I REALLY like it, so it’s a grand slam in my book! Easily recommended!

Film Length: 1 hour, 33 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

My Rating (after Blu-ray): 10/10

*ranked #4 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2021

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Anchors Aweigh (1945)Frank SinatraOn The Town (1949)

Ziegfeld Follies (1945) – Esther Williams – Million Dollar Mermaid (1952)

The Pirate (1948)Gene KellyOn The Town (1949)

Betty Garrett – On The Town (1949)

Easter Parade (1948) – Jules Munshin – On The Town (1949)

Ziegfeld Follies (1945) – Edward Arnold – Annie Get Your Gun (1950)

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Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… Anchors Aweigh (1945)

Now we’re shipping out to sea, with the classic 1945 MGM musical Anchors Aweigh, starring Frank Sinatra, Kathryn Grayson and Gene Kelly!

While on leave, sailor Joe Brady (Gene Kelly) is looking for a good time with his girlfriend Lola, and his shy shipmate Clarence Doolittle (Frank Sinatra) wants his help and advice on finding a girl for himself.  Before they can get too far, the police ask for their help with a young kid (Dean Stockwell), who has run away from home to join the navy. They take him back to the home of his aunt, Susan Abbott (Kathryn Grayson), whom Clarence decides he wants to go out with. Joe tries to help him out (and get him off his back), but they find themselves in a lot more trouble than they bargained for when Joe lies and tells her they know movie star José Iturbi (himself) and can get her a screen test. They try to talk to Iturbi, but they just keep missing him. Meanwhile, Joe is developing feelings for Susan, and Clarence realizes that he likes the waitress at the restaurant that Susan works at.

This movie is mainly noted for being the first of three movies that paired together Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly. This movie contains a number of famous songs and dances, including Frank singing “I Fall In Love Too Easily” and Gene’s solo dance to “La Cumparsita.” But the movie is probably best-known for “The Worry Song,” the famous dance duet between Gene Kelly and Jerry the mouse of “Tom and Jerry” fame (and Tom makes a quick cameo, too). And I always find it interesting they had originally been planning to borrow Mickey Mouse. But, at the same time, I think Jerry the mouse works better, as I just can’t imagine Mickey in the situation we were given, which was that of a king (Jerry) who couldn’t sing or dance and therefore banned his subjects from singing or dancing on the basis that the king should be able to do everything at least as well as his subjects. Again, that just doesn’t sound like Mickey at all.

Personally, I consider this movie to be the least of the three Sinatra-Kelly movies. At two hours, twenty minutes in length, it feels LONG. With a mixture of then-new songs and some old, I feel like the older stuff was better. On a great many levels, I just do not like the Sinatra-Kelly duet of “I Begged Her,” and I feel like several of Gene’s dances, most particularly the “Mexican Hat Dance,” could be dropped and the movie would be better for it (and believe me, I hate saying that about any of the dances). Despite my complaints, I do like this movie, but I have a hard time recommending it.

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD individually, and on Blu-ray as part of the five-film Frank Sinatra Collection from Warner Home Video.

Film Length: 2 hours, 20 minutes

My Rating: 5/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Frank SinatraTake Me Out To The Ball Game (1949)

Rio Rita (1942) – Kathryn Grayson – Ziegfeld Follies (1945)

For Me And My Gal (1942)Gene KellyZiegfeld Follies (1945)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Top 10 Dance Routines

Well, I seem to have made it to the 100 post mark for this blog, so I felt the need to celebrate! Considering I have always been quite fond of musicals, which originally inspired me to take up dancing, I feel like doing my top 10 dance routines from the movies! Now, I did set up a few limits. Mainly, I tried to limit the number of dance routines featuring any specific dancers to about one solo routine and one partnered routine per person (otherwise, I could easily list quite a few for some dancers with ease)! I should also mention, that it’s not just the dancing itself, but sometimes the music that influences my opinion as well. Again, this list is entirely my own opinion, and not necessarily even my favorite dance routines and/or songs, but those that just mesh well. They will be presented as song, dancer(s), movie.

1. “Puttin’ On The Ritz,” Fred Astaire, Blue Skies

Fred Astaire’s big tap solo that was originally intended to be his last, as he went into retirement after this movie (which, thankfully, was short-lived). This routine allowed Fred to show he still had some considerable skill, improved by using special effects, such as his cane flying into his hand from the ground. But most famously, we have Fred dancing with a background chorus that consisted entirely of him (long before the days of CGI), which demonstrates just how well-rehearsed and precise he could be with his movements!

2. “Never Gonna Dance,” Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Swing Time

While Fred Astaire partnered with a number of talented ladies over his career, few are better remembered than Ginger Rogers, who brought her talents as a dramatic actress to the table. It took a lot of thought to pick which one of their routines to add to this list, but I went with “Never Gonna Dance.” This wonderful dance showcases their dramatic abilities, coupled with superb dancing (not to mention beautiful music that also brings back “The Way You Look Tonight” and “Waltz In Swing Time”)!

3. “Singin’ In The Rain,” Gene Kelly, Singin’ In The Rain

Of course, no list of famous dances would be complete without this classic! You can’t help but smile when thinking of Gene Kelly’s iconic dance, joyful in what could otherwise be depressing weather! So grab an umbrella and start dancing (and singing!) in the rain!

4. “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” Marge and Gower Champion, Lovely To Look At

For me, this one just HAS to be on the list. The husband-and-wife dance team of Marge and Gower Champion wasn’t renowned for their acting ability, and neither made a huge mark in the movies, but this movie (and most particularly this routine) was one of their best. From their kiss at the beginning of the routine that sends them “up among the stars” to the end of the routine, we are treated to some wonderful dancing, some superb lifts and one of the most beautiful orchestrations of this (or any other song) that I’ve had the chance to enjoy!!

5. “Barn Dance,” group dance, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers

Ok, so I’m simplifying things by calling it a group dance, but if I listed everybody, you’d spend too much time reading that list! But still, who can pass up the chance to watch the six brothers constantly one-up the men from town as they show off for the ladies! Between the music, the high-flying leaps and flips, this is always fun!

6. “Make ‘Em Laugh,” Donald O’Connor, Singin’ In The Rain

Yep, Donald O’Connor’s classic comedy dance is here, too! While the music might have borrowed heavily from the Cole Porter tune “Be A Clown,” Donald brought all of his abilities to hear, with pratfalls, and many different comedy bits (and some dancing as well)! Always fun to watch (and good for a laugh)!

7. “Ragamuffin Romeo,” Marion Stadler and Don Rose, King Of Jazz

As I’ve said before, a wonderful example of some old vaudeville style dancing! While neither of the two dancers here have any lasting fame, what they do is still impressive! She’s supposed to be a doll made up of rags, and, with her flexibility, she acts and moves just like it! The lifts are just phenomenal, and I could easily watch this dance time and time again!

8. “Yankee Doodle Boy/ GiveMy Regards To Broadway,” James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy

While he was a song-and-dance man himself, James Cagney ended up being typecast as a gangster for a lot of his movies with Warner Brothers. But this movie (and most particularly these two songs paired together) helped change that. Cagney successfully portrayed George M. Cohan, making use of the real Cohan’s style of dance, while still maintaining his own!

9. “Honolulu,” Eleanor Powell and Gracie Allen, Honolulu

This is one of those dances I just love to watch! For me, it was this dance that proved to me what I had heard many times, that Eleanor Powell was one of the few women at that time who could out-dance Fred Astaire. The music is fun, as is watching Gracie Allen dancing with Eleanor, but once Eleanor starts with her solo section, that’s when the real fun begins! I love watching her tap dance and jump rope at the same time (personally, I would probably get tangled up in a hurry if I tried)!

10. “Heather On The Hill,” Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse, Brigadoon

As wonderful a dancer as she is, of course Cyd Charisse needed to be represented on this list! While there are other dances that she did that I enjoyed more (but can’t include because of my own silly rules), I can’t deny the beauty of this duet with Gene Kelly. With some beautiful music to help, this romantic routine with its lifts and balletic quality is certainly still worthy of inclusion!

Well, that’s my list! I hope everyone enjoyed it (and I’d certainly like to hear what everybody else’s lists would be)! Also, if there’s enough demand/ interest, later on I might just do a “Top 5 Dance Routines I Would Love To Learn!” But that’s all for now!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2018) with… Les Girls (1957)

Here we are for Gene Kelly’s final MGM musical, the 1957 Les Girls, also starring Mitzi Gaynor, Kay Kendall and Taina Elg.

After publishing a tell-all book on her life, Lady Sybil Wren (Kay Kendall) is sued by a former friend, Angele Ducros (Taina Elg). In court, Sybil relates how the two of them had both been part of a dance troupe called “Barry Nichols and Les Girls.”  According to Sybil, Angele had an affair with Barry Nichols (Gene Kelly) while she was engaged to Pierre Ducros.  When Pierre showed up unexpectedly, Angele got really flustered during a performance.  Angry, Barry broke up with her, and she tried to commit suicide.  However, when Angele was given her chance to testify in court, she maintained that Sybil was an alcoholic, and that SHE was the one who had a relationship with Barry.   He broke up with her when she prevented him from getting the act booked into an English theater owned by Sir Gerald Wren, her wannabe boyfriend, and then she tried to commit suicide.  With two conflicting stories, they bring in Barry Nichols to testify.

The movie barely qualifies as a musical, with only a small handful of songs. The music was written by Cole Porter, in what turned out to be the last movie that he worked on. Most of the songs occur onstage, with “Ca C’est L’amour” and “You’re Just Too Too” being the only ones that occur offstage, one a romantic tune and the other a somewhat comedic duet. Probably the most fondly remembered song and dance from this movie is the song “Why Am I So Gone (About That Gal),” in which Gene Kelly, partnered with Mitzi Gaynor, does a parody of The Wild One. I personally think it is one of the movie’s best moments, and a wonderful routine!

This movie is still a lot of fun. Kay Kendall’s performance as the drunken Sybil seems to be what people enjoy about this movie, and I do agree, she is very hilarious! I will admit, if you are going into the movie thinking that the three stories of what happened will mesh, you might be disappointed, as they don’t. However, the movie does admit to that, with one guy carrying around a sign asking “What is truth?” and you can see the glances shared between Barry, Sybil and Angele at the trial, both before and after Barry gives his testimony, that leave you wondering how accurate his testimony is. But, whatever the case, I think this movie is fun. Not Gene Kelly’s best movie, but still one worth seeing just for the fun of it!

The movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 54 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Invitation To The Dance (1956)Gene KellyMarjorie Morningstar (1958)

Anything Goes (1956) – Mitzi Gaynor

Kay Kendall – The Reluctant Debutante (1958)

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Thoughts From The Music(al) Man 2018 on… Summer Stock (1950)

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.

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Cuckoo Clock (1950)

(Available as an extra on the Summer Stock Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection or as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 Blu-ray or DVD from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 5 seconds)

A cat is being driven crazy by a cuckoo bird and tries to get rid of it. My feelings on this cartoon are a bit mixed. On the one hand, the short starts out in a darker, almost Edgar Allen Poe-type of direction, as the cat is going insane (in an admittedly Tex Avery-ish way), which shows some promise. Then it turns more formulaic, as the cat tries to get the bird. It’s still fun, but I’ve certainly seen better Tex Avery cartoons. As this short is available as an extra on the Summer Stock Blu-ray or as part of the second Tex Avery set, I should mention that more restoration work was done on this cartoon for the Tex Avery set, and therefore, that is where I would recommend seeing it.

And Now For The Main Feature…

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.

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2019) with… Summer Stock (1950)

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!” 😉

Film Length: 1 hour, 49 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

My Rating (after Blu-ray): 10/10

*ranked #5 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2019

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

In The Good Old Summertime (1949) – Judy Garland

On The Town (1949)Gene KellyAn American In Paris (1951)

The Wistful Widow Of Wagon Gap (1947) – Marjorie Main

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you).  If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2018) on… The Pirate (1948)

Time for another request! This time, it’s the second Judy Garland/ Gene Kelly movie, The Pirate, also starring Walter Slezak.

Coming Up Shorts! with… You Can’t Win (1948)

(available as an extra on The Pirate Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 53 seconds)

On his day off, some guy just keeps struggling with everything he does going wrong. This one was quite funny, with mishaps coming from a persistent salesman, a cigarette lighter, starched shirts, cleaning a car and hanging a hammock. For the most part, I haven’t cared for the Pete Smith specialties, but this one was quite fun! The mishaps are relatable, and yet hilarious (in that old “I don’t mind laughing at the misfortunes of others, but probably would be mad if that happened to me”-type of humor)! Fun enough that I wouldn’t mind revisiting this one!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Cat Fishin’ (1947)

(available as an extra on The Pirate Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 43 seconds)

Tom the cat tries to fish (using Jerry the mouse as bait) on an off-limits fishing hole guarded by Spike the dog. One fish in particular keeps giving Jerry trouble, but he manages to divert him away time and time again! And, while he’s not the main trouble for the middle of the short, Spike’s presence as he chases after Tom is always welcome! Certainly a lot of fun seeing this Tom and Jerry cartoon, and it’s one that I hope to come back to here and there for a few good laughs!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Judy plays Manuela, a girl living in the town of Calvados. She dreams of being carried off by the pirate Macoco, but she becomes engaged to the rich mayor of the town. Wanting to see the sea before she is married, she goes with her aunt to Port Sebastian to get her wedding dress. While there, she encounters a traveling troupe of actors, led by Serafin (Gene Kelly). He falls for her immediately, but she is repulsed by him. At their show, Serafin hypnotizes Manuela, and learns of her love for Macoco. Upon being kissed, she awakes from her trance, and runs back to her aunt, with plans to go immediately back to Calvados. The acting troupe arrives right before the wedding, with Serafin now claiming to be Macoco. He threatens to destroy the town if Manuela isn’t brought to him. While she comes to him, the mayor gets away to bring the militia, doing so successfully.

One thing I should say right off is not to be fooled by the title. Anybody expecting a grand pirate adventure will be disappointed. There are no ship battles, sword fights, etc. Everything pretty much happens on land. The closest you get is Gene Kelly’s pirate ballet, which is a dream sequence for when Judy’s character imagines Serafin as Macoco in action. In spite of that, it is still a wonderful dance, giving Gene a chance to show off his athletic abilities.

There is a lot of fun to this movie, where its music is concerned. Admittedly, most of it is somewhat forgettable (but it certainly is fun to see Gene and Judy giving it their all, just the same). The main song that is memorable is “Be A Clown,” which is used twice. For the first version, Gene dances with the Nicholas brothers, which was the first time they had danced onscreen with a Caucasian (and Gene insisted on them doing the routine with them). It was a wonderful dance, although the Nicholas brothers were punished by the dance being cut in some parts of the country, and they were blackballed from the movies after that. The song was reprised to end the movie, with Judy joining Gene, and both of them in clown getup, to comical effect. What should be mentioned here, too, is that the music was “borrowed” by Arthur Freed and given new lyrics to become the song “Make ‘Em Laugh” in Singin’ in the Rain (although apparently Cole Porter didn’t complain).

I do recommend this movie if you get the chance to see it! The movie is available on DVD from Warner Home Video.

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… The Pirate (1948)

On November 24, 2020, The Pirate was released on Blu-ray by Warner Archive Collection. This Blu-ray makes use of a new restoration from a 4K scan of the original nitrate Technicolor negatives. I’ve been watching (and enjoying) this movie since the early 2000s, both on TV and on DVD. Both those sources apparently have been using a transfer done by an overseas lab that was, in the minds of many, very poorly done. It never bothered me that much, but, again, it’s what I knew. This new Blu-ray COMPLETELY blows that old transfer out of the water! The colors are just so vibrant now, it’s like an entirely different movie now! And the detail! Oh, this much detail is just fantastic to see, it’s so nice and crisp! When the Blu-ray of Summer Stock was released, that transfer was so much better that I bumped up my score of that movie (which at the time, I would have said was my favorite of the three Judy Garland/Gene Kelly pairings). For The Pirate, I would also have to bump up that score (and even to put it at 10/10 doesn’t seem to do it justice!), with it now feeling like my favorite of the three! So, seriously, if you’ve been watching it either on TV or on DVD, forget about them, and see the new Blu-ray! You’ll wonder how you could ever go back to the old transfer!

Film Length: 1 hour, 42 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

My Rating (after Blu-ray): 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Harvey Girls (1946) – Judy Garland – Easter Parade (1948)

Ziegfeld Follies (1945)Gene KellyTake Me Out To The Ball Game (1949)

A Christmas Carol (1938) – Reginald Owen

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2018) on… For Me And My Gal (1942)

And we’re back again, for the 1942 MGM musical For Me And My Gal, starring Judy Garland, George Murphy and Gene Kelly.

Coming Up Shorts! with… For Pete’s Sake! (1934)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 4 (1933-1935) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 18 minutes, 6 seconds)

Wally (Wally Albright) and the Gang try to fix up a doll for Marianne (Marianne Edwards), but a bully breaks her doll. So the Gang tries to get her a new doll, but they have to deal with the bully and his father to get it. This short was quite entertaining, managing to tug on the heartstrings while still making us laugh! It’s at its funniest when the kids try to earn some money by beating some rugs and cutting the grass, but Spanky (George McFarland) and Scotty (Scotty Beckett) are consistently funny as they try to tell the other kids what they’re doing wrong. I enjoyed this one, and certainly look forward to revisiting it in the future!

Coming Up Shorts! with… La Fiesta de Santa Barbara (1935)

(Available as an extra on the For Me And My Gal Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 18 minutes, 41 seconds)

This Technicolor short features a Spanish festival and show. Most of the fun here is seeing various Hollywood celebrities of the era, including a VERY early appearance by Judy Garland alongside her sisters. The music and dancing provide the rest of the entertainment. There is some (admittedly weak) humor here, provided by Andy Devine (as a “bullfighter”) and Buster Keaton, who provides a “bull” for him to fight. Nothing spectacular here (outside of seeing some of those celebrities in color), so this short is maybe worth one viewing but nothing beyond that.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Every Sunday (1936)

(Available as an extra on the For Me And My Gal Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 10 minutes, 33 seconds)

The Professor’s (Wright Kramer) orchestra isn’t gathering crowds in the park anymore, so the city officials are considering a change in orchestras. However, with the help of his granddaughter, Edna (Deanna Durbin), her friend Judy (Judy Garland) and Judy’s father (Richard Powell), they are able to attract big crowds again. This short’s main appeal is the presence of Deanna Durbin (in her debut) and Judy Garland. They both get a solo, and also sing together to finish the short. The plot itself isn’t much to write home about, but thankfully, most of the short is devoted to Judy and Deanna singing, which makes this one worth seeing every now and then!

And Now For The Main Feature…

The movie starts out in 1916, in the small town of Clifton Junction, Iowa. A bunch of vaudevillians have just come to town on the train. One of them, dancer and tramp comic Harry Palmer (Gene Kelly), is arrogant and quickly gets on the nerves of Jo Hayden (Judy Garland), who is part of a troupe under the leadership of Jimmy Metcalfe (George Murphy). However, Harry convinces Jo to leave Jimmy’s act and join him as part of a song-and-dance act. Over time, we see Jo develop feelings for Harry, although he is more concerned with getting to the Palace Theater in New York City (the dream of every vaudevillian). In his impatience to get there, Harry almost joins a more famous actress when she makes him an offer, much to Jo’s dismay. In trying to leave, Harry finally realizes that he loves Jo, and they make plans to get married after they have done their first show at the Palace. All the while, the U.S. has been drawn into the conflict of the first World War, which results in Harry getting a draft notice right when they learn that they are scheduled to play the Palace. Will they be able to perform at the Palace (and get married), or will the war prevent that from happening?

The idea for the movie started out with a script entitled “The Big Time,” which would have followed Harry Palmer, who was supposed to be in a relationship with two different women: a singer (a role which was planned for Judy Garland), and a dancer (whom he was supposed to marry and then betray). On the advice of acting coach Stella Adler, producer Arthur Freed combined the two roles and gave Judy the part. Originally, George Murphy was given the role of Harry Palmer, but he was switched to Jimmy Metcalfe when Arthur, on the advice of both Stella and Judy, gave Hollywood newcomer Gene Kelly the role. This film provided Judy with a more dramatic role, as she embraced being given a more adult role for the entire film (as opposed to an adult role for part of the film like in Little Nellie Kelly two years earlier). Judy was also generous in helping Gene adjust to acting for the camera (as opposed to the stage). Reshoots were required when preview audiences complained about the film’s original ending, due to Harry Palmer being such an unsympathetic character, and so Gene was given new scenes to help wartime audiences sympathize with his character more. Of course, the film proved to be a hit, helping Gene get his start in Hollywood, while also proving Judy’s dramatic abilities.

I will readily admit that I’ve seen this movie many times over the years, and it’s one that I’ve always enjoyed. In general, I like so much of the period music, which helps set the stage for what vaudevillian performances were (probably) like. In particular, I like the stuff early on in the film with Judy Garland and George Murphy with their “doll shop” and “beach” routines (in particular, their version of the classic song “By The Beautiful Sea” is quite the earworm, and is my personal favorite version of that song). But, obviously, the real fun is seeing Judy and Gene Kelly working together. Even though it’s their first film together, you can tell right when they do the title tune that they have great chemistry (and that helps make that song and dance another one of my favorite moments from this film). Realistically, the vaudevillian lifestyle portrayed in this film makes this musical function a lot better (at least, there’s generally a reason for everybody to start singing and dancing, as opposed to just breaking into song completely out of the blue). It really continues to astound me that this film was directed by Busby Berkeley, since it lacks his famous overhead shots and kaleidoscopic “dances.” And I appreciate that, as he allows everyone to actually dance for entire routines. Plain and simple, this is a wonderful movie, one that I love to come back to again and again, and, for that reason, I have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending this one very highly!

The movie is available on DVD from Warner Brothers.

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) with… For Me And My Gal (1942)

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On June 7, 2022, Warner Archive Collection released For Me And My Gal on the Blu-ray format. The transfer comes from a 4K scan of the best available preservation elements. Quite simply stated, it’s a typical (great looking) Warner Archive release. The detail is much improved over the previously available DVD, and the picture has been cleaned up of all scratches, dust and debris. Otherwise translated, the Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection is the way to go when seeing this movie now!

Film Length: 1 hour, 44 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

My Rating (after Blu-ray): 10/10

*ranked #5 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2022

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Little Nellie Kelly (1940) – Judy Garland – Girl Crazy (1943)

Gene KellyAnchors Aweigh (1945)

Tom, Dick And Harry (1941) – George Murphy

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