What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with.. Another Thin Man (1939)

Wouldn’t you know it, it’s time for yet ANOTHER Thin Man review (or is that a review of Another Thin Man 😉 ). This 1939 entry in the Thin Man series as usual features William Powell as Nick Charles and Myrna Loy as Nora Charles!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The First Seven Years (1930)

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

(Length: 20 minutes, 10 seconds)

Jackie (Jackie Cooper) wants Mary Ann (Mary Ann Jackson) to be his “wife,” but has to fight Speck (Donald Haines) for her affections. This one was rather hilarious, with Edgar Kennedy again returning as Kennedy the cop (and giving Jackie advice about girls). Of course, when all is said and done, Mary Ann pushes Jackie and Speck to duel over her like the knights of old (to hilarious effect)! A lot of fun, good humor, and a “swordfight” to boot!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Love On Tap (1939)

(available as an extra on the Another Thin Man Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 10 minutes, 47 seconds)

Penny (Mary Howard), the manager of the Abbott Dancers, keeps getting distracted by them when she tries to get married to her fiancé, Tommy (Truman Bradley). This is an, at best, average short, with a less-than-likable lead who keeps putting off getting married without caring how her actions are hurting her long-suffering fiancé. Some of the dancing from the Abbott Dancers is fun, with all the tricks they pull off, although the music itself is forgettable. Probably not one that I would necessarily plan on revisiting that much.

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Bookworm (1939)

(available as an extra on the Another Thin Man Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 8 minutes, 24 seconds)

The witches from MacBeth require a worm for their potion, so they send a raven after the bookworm. There’s some amusement here, with the ways that the little bookworm gets around the raven. However, it’s hard to develop much interest here, as it’s another in a long line of animated shorts from that era featuring characters from different books all interacting with each other. The animation is pretty good, and there are a few good gags, but, overall, this one is rather easy to forget.

And Now For The Main Feature…

Nick (William Powell) and Nora Charles (Myrna Loy) have come back to New York City with their one-year-old son Nicky, hoping for a quiet weekend. That hope is short-lived, however, when they hear from Colonel MacFay (C. Aubrey Smith), a former business partner of Nora’s father (and who is also handling her estate). The colonel is adamant that they come out to see him, so they reluctantly pack up to go to the colonel’s estate. They think it’s only about business (which is why they were reluctant to go in the first place), but they quickly find that the colonel’s estate is heavily guarded. When they finally get to the house, they find out that a former employee of his, Phil Church (Sheldon Leonard), had done prison time, and was now trying to extort money from the colonel, mostly by claiming that he is dreaming that the colonel will be murdered (and Church claims that when he dreams the same thing three times, it usually comes true). Nick tries to see Church and his girlfriend, Smitty (Muriel Hutchison), but Church refuses to take back his “dreams” (although he “promises” to leave). Nick returns to the colonel’s estate, where they stay the night. During the night, they are visited by the colonel’s adopted daughter, Lois MacFay (Virginia Grey), when they hear a gunshot go off. Rushing to the colonel’s room, they find him, dead. When the police arrive, they question everybody, including Nick and Nora. While everybody is outside looking for a knife that Nick and Nora’s dog Asta was carrying around, Lois comes running, claiming her fiancé Dudley Horn (Patric Knowles) is gunning for Nick. Before he can do anything, Dudley is shot (and killed) by the police. Nick and Nora return to the city (with everyone else in tow), where the two of them try to pick up any clues they can as to the whereabouts of Church. As the clues (and the suspects) mount, can they solve the crime, or will the colonel’s murder go unsolved?

After the success of both The Thin Man and After The Thin Man, MGM made plans to do another film. However, those plans for a third film were delayed, as, before filming could commence, star William Powell was diagnosed with cancer in 1938 (resulting in him taking time off while he underwent several operations). After a time, he recovered, and came back to work. Of course, care was taken so as to keep him from overdoing things. Director Woody Van Dyke insisted on only filming for about six hours a day, and working on four soundstages with a larger crew than usual to help keep things as efficient as possible. For the story, they went back to the well of Dashiell Hammett (author of the original novel), and used his story “The Farewell Murder.” Of course, the film was still a hit, resulting in the series continuing a few years later with Shadow Of the Thin Man!

As you can no doubt guess, based off my previous reviews of the first two films, this was my first time seeing this film, too. Of course, also like the other two, it was one that I enjoyed very much! While we’re still getting further from the pre-Code days, there’s still some fun to be had (and they certainly can’t keep William Powell’s Nick out of the booze, either 😉 )! The relationship between Nick and Myrna Loy’s Nora is still at the forefront, with her trying to get involved in solving the crime (sometimes to hilarious effect)! I enjoyed the scene at the nightclub, where they both ended up there separately, while still finding stuff out, but the scene when they were checking out the room of a suspect at an apartment building was quite hilarious! It was also made more memorable by the presence of Marjorie Main in one of her earlier roles (while still having some of the persona that she would be known for), as she shows Nick the room (while trying not to let Nora know anything, as they “claimed” to be separate, with her “looking” for a room to rent). Of course, throw in a brief appearance by an uncredited Shemp Howard in this movie, and it’s golden! I still think the first film is the best, but I’ll take this one (especially since Nat Pendelton returned to reprise his role as Lieutenant Guild from the first film)! I know I still look forward to trying the rest of the series, whenever I can get that far! Highly recommended!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection, working from a 4K scan of the best surviving preservation elements. Considering it’s from Warner Archive, there’s no mystery here about the transfer. It looks GREAT!!! Seriously, they’ve done a great job with the elements they had to work with, and the picture looks as sharp and detailed as one could hope for! Easily a highly recommended release!

Film Length: 1 hour, 43 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

After The Thin Man (1936) – William Powell – Shadow Of The Thin Man (1941)

After The Thin Man (1936) – Myrna Loy – Shadow Of The Thin Man (1941)

Marjorie Main – Meet Me In St. Louis (1944)

Shemp Howard – Buck Privates (1941)

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!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… The Harvey Girls (1946)

Today, we’ve got a Judy Garland double-feature! Ok, so it’s like last week’s Bob Hope double-feature, where I have one new review, and updated comments on the other due to a recent Blu-ray release (in this case, it’s her 1948 film The Pirate). So, for today’s new review, we have her classic 1946 musical The Harvey Girls! Of course, we’ll throw in a fun theatrical short to start us off, and then it’s on with the movie!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Magical Maestro (1952)

(Available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 6 minutes, 31 seconds)

After a magician is thrown out by opera singer Spike (also known as “The Great Poochini”), he gets his revenge by taking the place of the conductor and using his magic wand to wreak havoc on Spike’s performance. This was a another fun cartoon, with all the gags and costume changes (and song changes) that the magician forces Spike to go through! And it even throws in a gag with a hair on the screen (so, yes, it belongs there, even with the wonderful restoration this short underwent)! Sure, there are a couple of dated moments that won’t go over well, such as Spike being turned into a Chinese character at one point and wearing blackface at another. Still, those moments go by in a flash, and this cartoon is otherwise a lot fun, full of laughs from start to finish!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Civilization (and femininity) are coming to the Wild West! All along the Santa Fe railroad, Harvey House restaurants have been popping up, taming down the unruly towns. Now, their next destination is the town of Sandrock, Arizona, and the women that will be waitresses are taking the train to get there. Also on that train is Susan Bradley (Judy Garland), who is answering a matrimonial ad from H. H. Hartsey (Chill Wills). However, when she arrives, she doesn’t find him to be what she expected (and vice versa), and they agree not to get married. She learns that he is not the person that she had corresponded with, but that it was Ned Trent (John Hodiak), the owner of the local Alhambra saloon. She goes there to tell him off (and gains his interest) before she goes to join the rest of the Harvey girls. Of course, they’re not without their troubles, too. The local judge, Sam Purvis (Preston Foster), doesn’t want the Harvey House restaurant there, as he is opposed to the threats of the town becoming more civilized (not to mention he also gets a cut from the Alhambra, which he fears will decrease with the competition). Susan helps the girls to keep the Harvey House going, in spite of their troubles, and finds herself falling for Ned, much to the dismay of dance hall girl (and Ned’s girlfriend) Em (Angela Lansbury). Ned wants to keep things honest in his dealings with the Harvey House, and tries to get the judge to stop (but, obviously, he doesn’t). Will the Harvey girls win out (and will Susan and Ned get together)? Or will the judge and his ilk be victorious?

The Harvey Girls is based on the 1942 novel of the same name by Samuel Hopkins Adams. MGM bought the film rights, intending it as a vehicle for Lana Turner. Associate producer Roger Edens saw a production of the stage show Oklahoma!, and the plans were changed. Judy Garland was approached for the film, but she wasn’t interested, as she really wanted to work with Fred Astaire (for what would turn out to be Yolanda And The Thief at the time). Still, they were able to convince her to do The Harvey Girls instead, and it worked out well for her! The film was a hit, and the song “On The Atchison, Topeka And The Santa Fe” became a big hit for her (not to mention winning the Best Song Oscar that year)!

I’ve only had the chance to see this movie a handful of times over the years (mostly because I never quite got around to getting it on home video until now), but it’s one I’ve always enjoyed! Judy Garland is her usual fantastic self here! As a character that didn’t start out wanting to be a Harvey Girl, she sure did her best at it (and tried to be tough enough to get the town to come around)! The music (by Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer) is a lot of fun, with “On The Atchison, Topeka And The Santa Fe” a particularly catchy earworm of a tune! But I also enjoy “Swing Your Partner Round And Round” and a few others! And while he only gets one solo dance, Ray Bolger is still fun here, with his own inimitable style of dancing!

Now, I will admit the movie isn’t perfect. As a whole, I’m not really fond of John Hodiak as the leading man, as his performance just doesn’t work for me. I’m also not thrilled with the disappearance of Virginia O’Brien’s character partway through the movie. I understand it from the perspective that, offscreen, this movie took a long time to film and she was pregnant at the time (and it became too difficult to hide it). However, the movie itself doesn’t explain her complete disappearance after the song “The Wild, Wild West” (which seems strange, considering her character and Judy Garland’s were supposed to be friends). Still, these are minor quibbles for me, and they’re not enough to keep me away from this film! It’s a wonderful, well-known musical (and for good reason), and it’s one I have no trouble whatsoever giving some of my highest recommendations!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection. This release utilizes a restoration from a 4K scan of the original nitrate Technicolor negatives, and it shows! The transfer just pops with color, looking just like one would hope it should! The detail is amazing here, and there’s no dirt or specks or anything else to mar the picture! A wonderful release that includes some deleted scenes from the movie, as well as some audio scoring stage sessions for most of the music, plus “On The Atchison, Topeka And the Santa Fe” in stereo, for those that want to hear it that way! A highly recommended release, and one of the best-looking of the year!

Film Length: 1 hour, 41 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Ziegfeld Follies (1945) – Judy Garland – The Pirate (1948)

Gaslight (1944) – Angela Lansbury – The Reluctant Debutante (1958)

Murder, He Says (1945) – Marjorie Main – The Wistful Widow Of Wagon Gap (1947)

Ziegfeld Follies (1945) – Cyd Charisse – Singin’ In The Rain (1952)

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TFTMM 2020 & WOIANRA 2019 on… The Wistful Widow Of Wagon Gap (1947)

Now we have the second half of today’s Abbott and Costello double-feature, their 1947 comedy The Wistful Widow Of Wagon Gap, co-starring Marjorie Main. And just in case you missed the poll to choose the “Star Of The Month” for March 2021 in the earlier post…

On their way to California, traveling salesmen Duke Egan (Bud Abbott) and Chester Wooley (Lou Costello) stop in at the town of Wagon Gap, Montana. When somebody openly steals their suitcase, Chester shoots up in the sky, only for a body to fall down dead. The two are arrested, but in their trial, a law is found that makes someone who kills another in a duel responsible for taking care of the family of the deceased, as well as their debts. So Chester and Duke are taken to meet the deceased man’s wife, the Widow Hawkins (Marjorie Main) and her family. She takes a shine to Chester, but, since he doesn’t want to marry her, she makes him work. A LOT. However, when she forces him to get her daughter Juanita (Audrey Young) off the stage at a saloon, he finds himself “protected” by the very law that got him into trouble in the first place, as nobody wants to get stuck taking care of the Widow Hawkins and her family. As a result, Chester is made sheriff, and relies not on guns to handle trouble, but the picture of the Hawkins family he carries around with him. Unknown to him, his now-overworked buddy Duke has convinced judge Benbow (George Cleveland) that marrying the Widow would be a good idea as a result of the railroad offering a lot of money to come through her land. Now, Chester can’t get out of the way fast enough, with others looking to kill him and be “stuck” with the Widow and her money!

For the story of The Wistful Widow Of Wagon Gap, they actually got the idea from an old Montana law (dating back to the 1800s) where the winner of a gunfight would be legally responsible for the family of the victim. The script was originally written with James Stewart in mind for the lead, but that changed when Universal Studios bought the tale and cast Bud and Lou (with Lou getting the role intended for James Stewart). Some of the exterior shots were filmed in California at Vasquez Rocks and the Iverson Ranch. After the movie was done, Bud and Lou signed a contract for a series of comic books (which would last until 1956), and The Wistful Widow Of Wagon Gap was adapted for the first issue, the only time one of their films was adapted for the series.

For me, this is one of the better Abbott and Costello films. Co-star Marjorie Main was just coming off her first time playing what would become one of her best-known roles as Ma Kettle in The Egg And I. I really like her performance here. If you’ve seen her in enough films (including the previously reviewed Murder, He Says), the idea that everyone would rather let Lou’s character live instead of being stuck with her and her family makes SO much sense! The boys do have a variation on one of their routines here, “Frog In The Soup,” but their comedy still works so well (and, as I said, it’s enhanced by Marjorie Main). For me, it’s a far better western comedy than their previous attempt with Ride ‘Em Cowboy. There’s really no musical numbers here to drag the film down (yay!), and the side romance is barely there (admittedly, you do question why they even bothered, as little as they do with it). A very fun movie (and one I don’t watch nearly enough), so it’s definitely one I would highly recommend seeing!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory as part of the 28-film The Complete Abbott & Costello Universal Pictures Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 18 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

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!

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Buck Privates Come Home (1947)Bud Abbott/ Lou CostelloThe Noose Hangs High (1948)

Buck Privates Come Home (1947)The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures CollectionAbbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

The Harvey Girls (1946) – Marjorie Main – Summer Stock (1950)

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Murder, He Says (1945)

Next up, we have the classic 1945 Fred MacMurray comedy Murder, He Says.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Barking Dogs Don’t Fite (1949)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 3 from Warner Archive Collection)

Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.

(Length: 6 minutes, 12 seconds)

Popeye is stuck walking Olive’s new French poodle when they encounter Bluto and his big bulldog. Yep, it’s still Popeye vs Bluto, but this time, they’re going to the dogs! At least this time, it gives us something different, focusing in on the fight between the dogs a little more than Popeye vs. Bluto. While I’ve definitely seen similar gags done elsewhere, I can’t deny this one was still fun just the same!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Pollster Pete Marshall (Fred MacMurray) has come to town, looking for his colleague Hector P. Smedley. Hector had last been seen heading towards the home of the Fleagle family, so that’s where Pete goes. He soon finds that to be a mistake, when he meets the rough Mamie Fleagle Smithers Johnson (Marjorie Main), her twins sons Mert and Bert Fleagle (both played by Peter Whitney), her daughter Elany Fleagle (Jean Heather) and her current husband Mr. Johnson (Porter Hall). Pete realizes they killed Hector and are considering doing the same to him, but they decide to keep him alive. Their relative, Bonnie Fleagle, had committed robbery with her father and the money had been hidden before he died and she was sent to prison. Only Grandma Fleagle (Mabel Paige) truly knows where it is, but since she doesn’t trust the rest of the family (and for good reason, since they’ve been poisoning her), they all want Pete to pose as Bonnie’s boyfriend to get the information from Grandma Fleagle. She figures out he isn’t Bonnie’s boyfriend, but figures she should tell him anyways, giving him a sampler with some musical notes on it before passing away. He tries to tell the other Fleagles about the sampler, but they don’t believe him, since the lyrics are just nonsense words that Elany keeps singing. Then Bonnie Fleagle shows up, and starts working Pete over. However, when the two are alone, Pete finds out she is not Bonnie, but Claire Matthews (Helen Walker), whose father had been working at the bank when the robbery happened and was accused of being part of it. Claire hoped to find the money and clear him. Pete isn’t thrilled, but he decides to stay. Of course, the trouble is trying to figure out where the money is hidden, all the while avoiding the attempts by the other Fleagles to find out or kill them, which becomes harder when the real Bonnie Fleagle (Barbara Pepper) arrives.

The movie had been filmed as far back as the spring of 1944, but was held back due to the war and was released in 1945. Paramount had a big backlog of movies, mainly because they were trying to get a lot more war-related movies out faster, hoping to keep them from being dated with the war’s end. Murder, He Says took place in a mountain community, and some of the cast made use of recordings of native Arkansas speakers to help with their accents. Reviewers of the time had mixed opinions on this movie, but over time it has grown to be considered one of the better comedies of the era.

This is one of those movies that, prior to my recent viewing, I didn’t immediately recognize, but upon watching, I found it very familiar (although when or how I might have seen it before, I couldn’t tell you). What I do know is that I did enjoy this movie very much. The cast just works so perfectly here. Marjorie Main as the leader of the opposing Fleagles is just hilarious, equally at home using a bullwhip as a shotgun. You know you can’t trust her, no matter what bull she might be peddling to Fred MacMurray’s Pete. And speaking of Fred MacMurray, he does pretty well here too! While I’ve read that the movie was originally planned as another vehicle for Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard, I can’t deny that everybody cast in this movie does pretty well (and I can’t help but chuckle at the movie’s reference to one of the Bob Hope/Paulette Goddard films). Many funny moments here, including the twins, both played so wonderfully by Peter Whitney, especially with MacMurray constantly getting them mixed up, or trying to get away from them by pretending to see the “ghost” of his colleague Smedley! I could easily list off a whole lot more, but some things are best left to be seen in a very fun movie! I definitely recommend this one any time of the year, but it certainly should work pretty good around Halloween!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics, touting a brand new 4K restoration. I’ll certainly say that this transfer looks fantastic! A very vivid picture, and it certainly brings out the “glow” of some characters throughout the movie! Only a few scratches here and there to keep it from being perfect, but I’d still say that it’s well worth it!

Film Length: 1 hour, 34 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Remember The Night (1940) – Fred MacMurray – The Caine Mutiny (1954)

Meet Me In St. Louis (1944) – Marjorie Main – The Harvey Girls (1946)

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!

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2019) with… Meet Me In St. Louis (1944)

Now we have one last Christmas movie before the holiday itself, the classic musical Meet Me In St. Louis, starring Judy Garland!

The story of the movie centers on the Smith family. Youngest daughters “Tootie” (Margaret O’Brien) and Agnes (Joan Carroll) are generally up to some mischief, especially on Halloween. Older daughters Esther (Judy Garland) and Rose (Lucille Bremer) are both eagerly looking forward to the upcoming St. Louis World’s Fair, while also trying to gain the attention of the men they are attracted to. Their father, Alonzo “Lon” Smith (Leon Ames), is offered a promotion with his law office that would require the family to move to New York, which he takes them up on, with plans to leave after Christmas.

The film’s origins come from a series of short stories written by Sally Benson. There were eight stories originally published in the New Yorker magazine from June 1941 through May 1942, all based on Sally Benson’s childhood memories of the Smith family’s adventures. They proved so popular that they were compiled into the book Meet Me In St. Louis with four new stories in 1942. MGM producer Arthur Freed liked them, and wanted to do a film musical based on them. Vincente Minelli was brought in to direct (after George Cukor had to turn it down when he was called in to serve in World War II). The film was planned all along for Judy Garland, even though she was reluctant to go back to doing a juvenile role after having finally done a few adult roles. It took a bit of work, but she finally came around, and the movie would become one of her best-known roles.

And this is just such a wonderful movie, fun to watch at Christmas or any other time of the year! The music is a mixture of old and new, with the new tunes provided by songwriters Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin. Judy obviously gets some of the film’s best songs, such as “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” “The Trolley Song” and “The Boy Next Door” (and the latter would be used again ten years later with altered lyrics to reflect a change in gender of the singer in the MGM musical Athena). But the rest of the cast is equally wonderful, with Marjorie Main a little dialed back (well, more than she usually seems to be) as the maid Katie, Lucille Bremer does well as older sister Rose in her film debut (before her career would go downhill very quickly with a few box office bombs), and Harry Davenport as the grandfather just feels like the grandfather you’d always want to have, he’s so wonderful! And I could easily get into more about the cast, but the story is so much fun! Yes, it is a bit episodic in nature, but it works, as it takes place over most of a year. It was already a period film at the time it was made, and boy, do some things seem different (especially like how they celebrated Halloween, which is so different now it’s not even funny)! This movie definitely rates high with me, and I have no trouble whatsoever in recommending it!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection.

So, to everybody, I hope you “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” (and for those that don’t celebrate it, I wish you happy holidays)! I wish you all peace on earth, and goodwill to ALL!

Film Length: 1 hour, 53 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #9 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2019

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!

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Girl Crazy (1943) – Judy Garland – The Harvey Girls (1946)

The Palm Beach Story (1942) – Mary Astor

Lucille Bremer – Ziegfeld Follies (1945)

Another Thin Man (1939) – Marjorie Main – Murder, He Says (1945)

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

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