Oscar History
Welcome

The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, or by a member of our amazing team as noted.

Like The Film Experience on Facebook

Powered by Squarespace
What'cha Looking For?
Comment Fun

Comment(s) Du Jour
Alicia Vikander cast as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Only supporting actress winners are allowed to play this role!

"What on earth can Alicia bring to this role, and why bother? Good luck." - Tom F

"How long must we wait for Dianne Wiest as Lara Croft!?" - Mike

 

Keep TFE Strong

 

LOVE THE SITE? DONATE 

Your suscription dimes make an enormous difference to The Film Experience in terms of stability and budget to dream bigger. Consider...

I ♥ The Film Experience

THANKS IN ADVANCE

For those who can't commit to a dime a day, consider a one time donation for an article or a series you are glad you didn't have to live without.

Subscribe

Entries in Judy Garland (43)

Wednesday
Apr272016

Judy by the Numbers: "For Me And My Gal"

Anne Marie is tracking Judy Garland's career through musical numbers...

 In 1942, Judy Garland met a man who would come to be one of her biggest onscreen costars and supporters at MGM. When he was cast in For Me and My Gal opposite Garland, Gene Kelly was as upstart Broadway star, hot off Pal Joey and trying to make the transition to Hollywood stardom. According to Kelly, Judy Garland eased that transition; she was gracious, she was giving, and she was a consummate professional. Gene Kelly, stage dancer, learned how to perform for the camera by watching Judy Garland.

The Movie: For Me And My Gal (1942)
The Songwriters: Edgar Leslie & E. Ray Goetz (lyrics) and George W. Meyer (music)
The Players: Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, George Murphy directed by Busby Berkeley

The Story: The title number of For Me And My Gal shows off the unique partnership Garland and Kelly shared. The two costars sing at the piano, a staging familiar to Garland fans who'd watched her share a similar scene with Mickey Rooney many times in the past. But Kelly is no Rooney. Where Mickey would mug, Gene floats. Where Mickey would riff, Gene croons. This isn't to say that Kelly can't be funny, but his relationship to Garland is different. Mickey and Judy were a couple of firecracker kids; he gave her zing and she gave him class. Judy and Gene are two contrasting talents; his dancing complements her songs. Each provides where the other is weak, creating a harmonious musical union. It's no wonder than Judy and Gene would go on to share another three movies together.

Wednesday
Apr202016

Judy by the Numbers: "Chin Up! Cheerio! Carry On!"

Anne Marie is tracking Judy Garland's career through musical numbers...

1941 was a year of beginnings and endings for Judy Garland. It was the year of Judy's last Andy Hardy film (Life Begins for Andy Hardy, wherein nobody sang). And she wasn't just growing up on film - 1941 was also the year of Judy's first marriage: to David Rose, the musical director of the Tony Martin Radio Show. At only 19, Judy Garland was transitioning from child sensation to full fledged star.

 

The Movie: Babes on Broadway (1941)
The Songwriters: E.Y. Harburg (lyrics) and Burton Lane (music)
The Players: Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Virginia Weidler, Fay Bainter, Margaret O'Sullivan, directed by Busby Berkeley.

 

The Story: As the country entered World War II, the Freed Unit was lining up a series of nostalgia-inflected new hits starring Judy Garland for MGM. While Babes on Broadway looks at first glance like the typical "let's put on a show" backyard musical of 30's Mickey and Judy, some palpable differences manifest. First, there's the emphasis on Americana and patriotism, from Judy urging young British youths on in "Chin Up Cheerio!" to the (racist blackface) closing number, "Robert E Lee." This was the influence of World War II. Though Pearl Harbor happened mere days before Babes on Broadway was released, national sentiment was already turning towards the patriotic messages that would define wartime Hollywood. However, the movie's bigger hit was a more conventional Judy Garland number "How About You?"

In many ways, Babes on Broadway looks and sounds like the old Judy and Mickey - the two doe-eyed lovebirds sing to each other at a piano or on a stage while Mickey pulls faces. However, there are two marked differences: First, Mickey is no longer the focus of the movie - the two actors share camera equally. Second, Garland has graduated from the giant lace sleeves and tulle-lined skirts of "in-between" childish Judy, instead dressed fashionably in the latest style. Ziegfeld Girl and Little Nellie Kelly had proven Judy's talent was mature. Now it was time for her star image to reflect that transition, too.

Wednesday
Apr132016

Judy by the Numbers: "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows"

Anne Marie is tracking Judy Garland's career through musical numbers...

Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. revolutionized entertainment. Though he was best known for the Vaudeville showgirls in the musical review that bore his name, but his reach extended beyond the Follies. He legitimized Vaudeville and funded the show that would spawn the modern American musical. Though Ziegfeld died in 1932, MGM continued glorifying - and profiting from - Ziegfeld's legacy.  In 1936, MGM released a biopic, The Great Ziegfeld based on the life of Ziegfeld and his wife, Billy Burke. The success of that film led the studio to announce a spiritual successor in 1938: Ziegfeld Girl, set to star Joan Crawford, Eleanor Powell, and Virginia Bruce. But when the movie was finally made 3 years later, the cast had changed a bit. 

The Movie: Ziegfeld Girl (1941)
The Songwriters: Joseph McCarthy & Harry Carroll, from a tune by Chopin
The Players: Judy Garland, Lana Turner, Hedy Lamarr, Jimmy Stewart, directed by Robert Z Leonard & Busby Berkeley.

The Story: After the success of Little Nellie Kelly, MGM had another collaboration planned for young Judy Garland. This time, instead of Mickey Rooney, her costars were two other young starlets: Lana Turner, and Hedy Lamarr. Ziegfeld Girl was Judy Garland's first adult melodrama, though Garland still played a child. The plot might have inspired Valley of the Dolls.* As one of three showgirls trying to make it in the Follies, Judy is mostly relegated to musical comic relief while Hedy cries and Lana nearly dies. Still, the movie allowed young Judy to stretch her talents dramatically and vocally. Ultimately, that stretch mattered. The movie wasn't the success MGM had hoped for, but Judy got stellar reviews. 

*I have no evidence to support this claim.

 

Wednesday
Apr062016

Judy by the Numbers: "It's A Great Day for the Irish"

Anne Marie is tracking Judy Garland's career through musical numbers...

Have you heard the good news? April is Judy Garland month on TCM! Check your local listings to see the movies surrounding the numbers we've discussed, and the ones we haven't gotten to yet!

Before the end of 1940, young Judy Garland got two major kudos from Metro Goldwyn Mayer. First, her weekly salary was increased from $600 to $2,000. Second, MGM made her the top-billed star of another Freed Unit musical. No longer just Mickey Rooney's mooning gal pal, Judy Garland would finally get to play another leading role - in fact, in this movie she'd do it twice!

The Movie: Little Nellie Kelly (MGM 1940)
The Songwriter: Roger Edens
The Players: Judy Garland, George Murphy, Charles Winniger, Douglas McPhail, directed by Norman Taurog

The Story: Little Nellie Kelly was based on a hit George M. Cohan musical from 1922. However, any Cohan fans looking for a trip down memory lane would have been sorely disappointed - the movie only contained 2 of Cohan's original songs. The rest of the film was filled to the brim with the Freed Unit's usual tricks: a few well-loved showstoppers (including "Singin' in the Rain"), a smattering of the original show's material, and of course a Roger Edens song handcrafted for Judy Garland's talents.

Little Nellie Kelly had Judy Garland working double duty - literally. Judy played two Nellie Kelly's, a young mother (with a questionable accent) from Ireland, and later her starry-eyed daughter. Judy sings as both (mostly as the daughter) and even includes a rousing parade song with her Babes in Arms costar George Murphy. Fortunately for MGM, Judy Garland proved that even without Technicolor or Mickey Rooney, she was a star in her own right. Little Nellie Kelly grossed just under $1 million in the US (a solid gross then) proving Judy Garland could carry a movie. She could even do it twice.

Wednesday
Mar302016

Judy by the Numbers: "Our Love Affair"

Anne Marie is tracking Judy Garland's career through musical numbers...

By 1940 it was undeniable: Mickey and Judy were a success. Even more, Mickey and Judy with the Freed Unit behind them were a bona fide hit machine. Babes in Arms, the first Freed Unit collaboration, earned over $2 million domestically and $1 million abroad. With the promise of another blockbuster and the rise of patriotic sentiment on the verge of WWII, Louis B. Mayer dusted off an old, patriotic-sounding title and set his hitmakers on a new project: Strike Up The Band.
 
The Movie: Strike Up The Band (MGM, 1940)

The Songwriters: Arthur Freed & Roger Edens
The Players: Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, directed by Busby Berkeley 

The Story: The original Strike Up The Band was a George & Ira Gershwin political musical satire from the early half of the 1930s. However, the new patriotic musical produced by Arthur Freed & company bore no resemblance to the show from which they took their title. With Mickey Rooney now the confirmed box office champion - unseating Shirley Temple at last - the majority of the movie was geared towards his talents. Rooney sings, dances, acts, plays piano, and even plays the drums. However, Freed and Edens didn't overlook young Judy. They wrote "Our Love Affair" especially for the 18 year old singer. Though Mickey introduces the song, it doesn't come alive until Judy sings it, and her song is the musical theme used throughout the movie. 

Ultimately, the movie was another smash success for MGM. It garnered another $2 million domestically and $1 million abroad, as well as 3 Oscar nominations (including one for "Our Love Affair" and rave reviews from critics. Mickey, Judy and the Freed Unit were an undoubted blockbuster force. But how would Judy Garland do on her own?

Wednesday
Mar232016

Judy by the Numbers: "I'm Nobody's Baby"

Anne Marie is tracking Judy Garland's career through musical numbers...

Today's clip is a plea for the importance of audio preservation. Unlike last week's short, which survives as only 3 minutes of grainy footage of Judy Garland singing to a statue, Andy Hardy Meets Debutante has been remastered and restored several times since its 1940 release. However, Judy completists who watch the movie may be surprised at what a musical it's not. That's because two songs are missing from the film.
 
The Movie: Andy Hardy Meets Debutante (MGM, 1940)

The Songwriters: Benny Davis, Milton Ager, and Lester Stanley
The Players: Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Lewis Stone, Ann Rutherford, directed by George B. Seitz

The Story: Judy Garland only sings two songs in the entirety of her second Andy Hardy film. Unlike most Mickey/Judy pairings, Andy Hardy Meets Debutante does not follow the "let's put on a show" plotline. Instead, the film follows Andy as he goes further and further into debt trying to woo the heart of a New York debutante. This means two terrible things for Judy Garland fans: less Judy, and less singing. In fact, the movie was originally supposed to have four songs by Little Iron Lungs. Unfortunately, "Buds Won't Bud" and "All I Do Is Dream Of You" were recorded, but cut before being filmed. (Both were eventually reused in later films: "Buds Won't Bud" was sung by Ethel Waters in Cairo, while "All I Do Is Dream Of You" used as Debbie Reynold's excuse to pop out of a cake in Singin in the Rain.) Here's the good news: both Judy versions were saved as studio recordings, and have since been remastered and released. Sometimes even restoration stories get a happy ending.

Wednesday
Mar162016

Judy by the Numbers: "If I Forget You"

Anne Marie is tracking Judy Garland's career through musical numbers...

Click to embiggenToday's clip is a plea for the importance of film preservation. The following 3 minute clip is all that is currently known to survive of a short called "If I Forget You" starring Judy Garland and Bette Davis. That's right, two of Classic Hollywood's biggest stars once shared the screen and we know virtually nothing about it.

The little we do know about this teeny number and the tiny short surrounding it comes from reviews and an ad (pictured left) that ran in a few trade papers circa April of 1940. The short was part of the third annual tribute to Will Rogers, who passed away in 1935. It featred Kay Kyser and his Kollege of Musical Knowledge, then Judy singing the title song, then Bette Davis stepped onscreen to ask audiences to donate to the Will Rogers Memorial Commission (which benefited the Will Rogers Memorial Hospital).

The Movie: If I Forget You (MGM short, 1940)
The Songwriters: Irving Caesar (music & lyrics)
The Players: Judy Garland, Kay Kyser, Bette Davis, director unknown.

The Story: On the surface, a one reel ad for a charity seems underwhelming enough (and certainly Judy's performance, while sweet, is standard fare for the starlet), but when taken in context, If I Forget You shows how powerful one star's image can be even after death. The comedic cowboy had been gone 3 years, but the charity bearing his name could sway a week of exhibition ("Will Rogers National Theatres Week") and get two uncooperative giants (MGM & WB) to lend major talent for a brief cameo. This is even more impressive when you consider the fact that Will Rogers was a 20th Century Fox star. Will Rogers's image had the power to cross studio lines and exhibition rules. It probably didn't occur to Judy Garland as she sang Caesar's song that her image may one day become as powerful as Rogers's had been. Nonetheless this small (nearly forgotten) short reminds fans and academics that the aura of studio system stars can have tangible effects even after their deaths.

previously: "The Land of Let's Pretend" (1930), "The Texas Tornado" (1936), "Americana" (1936), "Dear Mr Gable" (1937), "Got a New Pair of Shoes" (1937), "Why? Because!" (1938), "Inbetween" (1938), “Zing Went the Strings of My Heart” (1938), "Over the Rainbow" (1939), "Good Morning" (1939)