Next month on Monty and Desiree’s classic cinema website we will be featuring Christmas and holiday movies. Seeing as I will be away next month, I’m doing my Christmas movie reviews early, but they wont be exhibited on the website until December. For my first Christmas film, I’m reviewing Judy Garland’s musical extravaganza “In The Good Old Summertime”, a delect…able movie with a superb supporting cast which includes Buster Keaton, Spring Byington, S.Z. Sakall, and a small cameo performance by three year old Liza Minnelli in her film debut.
Judy Garland lights up the screen with music and laughter in this charming holiday classic set in Chicago at the turn of the century. The film tells the story of Veronica Fisher and Andrew Larkin ( Judy Garland and Van Johnson ). Veronica Fisher is an unemployed, eager and tenacious young woman who is determined to secure work as a sales assistant in a music emporium, where her previous experience lays. One morning during her daily peregrinations to the post office she bumps into Andrew. Falling on the steps she loses most of her hair accessories. Andrew helps Veronica and promises to pay for any damaged clothing, so he leaves her with his business card. Discovering that Andrew is a salesman at Oberkugen’s music store, Veronica visits the store that day trying to pursue work. At first the stores manager Otto Oberkugen ( S.Z. Sakall ) is reluctant to employ anymore staff as it is the dole season. However Veronica gets her way and attains a position at Oberkugen’s. Upon meeting Andrew, Veronica developed an instant and mutual dislike for him, but while working with each other that hatred towards him exacerbated, which quite often results in constant altercating and bitterness. What Veronica and Andrew don’t know is that they are each others anonymous pen pals to whom they both engage themselves in through the mail correspondences with each night. Eventually all is revealed, concluding with one of the most enthralling and chilling scenes in cinema history.
“In The Good Old Summertime” is the second of three collaborations of the movie. While I don’t usually like remakes, I consider this to be the most hellacious of the three. This is just my opinion, and I am probably bias as it’s a Judy Garland vehicle, and I’m an ardent fan of Judy’s. Judy Garland was my first love and stepping stone into the world of classic Hollywood, establishing my passion for the golden era.
Judy delivers one of her most inimitable performances in this film, showcasing her extraordinary talents in various musical numbers throughout the film. What I also admire is by the time that this was made Judy’s illnesses were frequent, sometimes affecting her ability to perform, but no signs of sickness were evident in this movie or any of her films to be exact. Not only is Judy the worlds greatest entertainer, she was also adept at acting, “In The Good Old Summertime” and “A Star A Born” really corroborates that fact. With a long resume of notable films and meritorious performances, Judy is known as one of the brightest stars to ever grace the silver screen.
“In The Good Old Summertime” is Judy’s second last film with MGM. “Summerstock” was her final MGM film.
Buster Keaton was working as a gag writer at MGM when this movie was made. The filmmakers approached him to devise a way for a violin to get broken that would be both comic and plausible. Keaton came up with an appropriate fall, and the filmmakers then realized he was the only one who would be able to execute it properly, so they cast him in the film. Keaton also devised the sequence in which Van Johnson inadvertently wrecks Judy Garland’s hat, and coached Johnson intensively in how to perform the scene. This was the first MGM film Keaton appeared in since being fired from the studio in 1933.
Liza Minnelli appears in the final scene. She’s the little girl with Van Johnson and her mother, Judy Garland.
In the scene where Judy and Van Johnson meet in the restaurant, the woman sitting directly behind Judy is wearing the same green and plaid costume worn by Cyd Charisse in The Harvey Girls (1946), which also starred Judy Garland.
The deleted song “Last Night When We Were Young” (music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by E.Y. Harburg), sung by a heartbroken Judy Garland in her bedroom, already had been cut from an earlier picture: Metropolitan (1935), vocalized by Lawrence Tibbett, who also made a commercial recording for Victor. Miss Garland, after discovering the Tibbett record, considered this impassioned lament her favorite song. Judy’s prerecording was issued on several albums by MGM Records over two decades, beginning in 1951 with the 10-inch LP “Judy Garland Sings.” On CD, the audio is featured on the Rhino Handmade release of the soundtrack, which is paired with the score of Miss Garland’s Summer Stock (1950). On three notable occasions, Miss Garland returned to “Last Night When We Were Young”: together with acclaimed jazz pianist Joe Bushkin on her half-hour CBS-TV special (with Nelson Riddle serving as the arranger and conductor), broadcast the evening of October 8, 1956 on General Electric Theater (1953); for her best-selling Capitol album, released in October 1956, simply entitled “Judy,” arranged and conducted by Mr. Riddle, the LP updated to a Collectibles CD which also contains Garland’s 1955 Capitol album, “Miss Show Business”; and for the February 23, 1964 telecast of her CBS series, The Judy Garland Show (1963).
Quotes from film:
Veronica Fisher: I wish you could read his letters. Then you could see he has such a lofty point of view.
Andrew Delby Larkin: [sitting close and speaking in a low voice] Loft?
Veronica Fisher: [starts to scoot away] And now to find out he’s so materialistic.
Andrew Delby Larkin: [putting his arm around her shoulders and drawing her close again] Materialistic, too? I’m sorry. I hate to think I’ve spoiled your Christmas.
Veronica Fisher: Oh, no, you haven’t. I supposed I really should be thanking you.
Andrew Delby Larkin: [whispering] You don’t have to do that, but you know what I wish you would do. I wish you would send this Newspickle about his business and concentrate on me instead.
Veronica Fisher: [turing her back to him] I can’t, you already have someone.
Andrew Delby Larkin: [kissing her neck] Oh, no, not yet.
Veronica Fisher: [stammering] Mr. Larkin…
Andrew Delby Larkin: After all it is Christmas.
Veronica Fisher: I know, but…
Andrew Delby Larkin: [pulling her close] Oh, Veronica, I love you so! Won’t you open box 237 and take me out of my envelope?
Veronica Fisher: [turns to face] Box 23- box 237! You mean… You?
Andrew Delby Larkin: Dear Friend. Are you disappointed?
Veronica Fisher: Psychologically, I’m very confused, but personally I feel just wonderful.
Cast: Judy Garland. Born Frances Ethel Gumm on June 10th, 1922 in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Died: June 22nd, 1969 in Chelsea, London. Cause of death: Barbiturate overdose. Judy passed away two weeks after her 47th Birthday.