Saturday, January 17, 2009

In the Good Old Summertime (1949)

This week's musical was 1949's In the Good Old Summertime, another MGM musical I had never seen before. I chose this one because it was available on TCM on Demand. Our normal TCM station was not working properly, so I couldn't watch an old favorite On the Town as I had originally planned.

In the Good Old Summertime stars Judy Garland and Van Johnson. It's a musical version of the 1940 comedy The Shop Around the Corner. For those of you who have not seen this musical, the original movie it was based on, or its latest incarnation as You've Got Mail, the plot is this: Veronica (Judy) and Andy (Van) are anonymous pen pals and have fallen in love through their letters. Unbeknownst to them, they start working at the same music store and hate each other. The pen pals decide to meet, but when Andy sees it's Veronica, he leaves before she sees him. He's horrified, but somehow he begins to fall in love with her - and she with him. Then he reveals the truth and they live happily ever after.

I enjoyed The Shop Around the Corner when I saw it years ago, and I like Judy Garland and Van Johnson, so this seemed like a sure winner. This movie was pleasant enough, but was a lackluster musical, if it can even be called a musical. It did have about half a dozen musical numbers worked into the plot, but no one spontaneously bursts into song. Personally, I prefer musicals where the characters just start singing for no good reason and no one thinks it's strange. In this movie there was a perfectly logical reason for Judy to sing each time she did. That in itself doesn't make it bad, but the songs were not particularly memorable. I did like "Play that Barbershop Chord:"

Courtesy of musicalcomedy11111 on YouTube

Probably the best scene was right at the beginning when Andy and Veronica meet:

Courtesy of SolidHepKitten on YouTube

A few interesting tidbits: The little girl who plays their daughter at the end of the movie is Liza Minelli. The movie takes place almost entirely in winter, despite the name.

The one thing I kept thinking while watching this movie was how old Van Johnson and Judy Garland seemed to be, although they were only 33 and 27, respectively. I guess that was a lot older then than it is now.

While not a standout, this was a pleasant musical, and one I'm happy to add to my life list.

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