Tuesday, May 04, 2004

I love movies. And I have realized that right now my favorite type of movie is a musical. So today I'm going to try to wax lyrical about one of my favorite musicals, Summer Stock.

Summer Stock was the movie that got me interested into old movies. I saw it the summer before going into middle school, back in 1991 when TNT had a week long birthday tribute to Judy Garland. I was hooked and ended up trying to watch the entire week of movies -- an overdose of Judy Garland movies like Thoroughbreds Don't Cry and Strike Up the Band.

Summer Stock has always been my sentimental favorite musical. I recently rewatched it and it's not really the greatest musical. But the cast is wonderful -- Judy Garland, of course, as the farmer turned actress and Gene Kelly as the director of the play. I don't really like Gloria deHaven as the selfish younger sister, but perhaps that make her character good. I love Eddie Bracken. He is so perfect as the fastidious fiancee that no one really wants to marry. And my favorite character in the movie is Marjorie Main. Her character is so great -- and the scene where she is up in the barn loft with all the kids and tries to wake them up with the cow bell is excellent. You can just see the delight that she takes in having to wake them up with the rifle.

And Summer Stock has some great musical numbers. "You Wonderful You" always gets stuck in my head, especially the version that Gene and Judy sing together during the show. I love "(Howdy Neighbor) Happy Harvest," mostly because it is sung on a tractor. And of course, Judy's big solo number "Get Happy" where she looks fantastic. The dancing is also great -- Gene's solo number with the newspaper and squeaky board always gets me. Makes me wish I knew how to tap dance. And the square dance number -- I wish I could keep up with Gene Kelly!

But my one quibble with the movie is that the show they are putting on makes no sense. "Fall in Love" has such bizarre numbers -- the one that they open with seems so showy compared to the later number "Heavenly Music" with the hicks with their big feet. And the one number Abbie and Mr. Keath keep rehearsing ("Mem'ry Island") doesn't fit in at all. I'd love to see what the show is actually about, if one could be made up using all the bizarre numbers.

Regardless, Summer Stock sent me down the road of being an old movie fan and I haven't looked back since.

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