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The vibrant 1948 MGM musical A Date With Judy was born out of a popular 1940s radio show about the humorous adventures of bubbly teenager Judy Foster and her family. Joe Pasternak produced the screen version while Richard Thorpe directed and Stanley Donen choreographed the dance numbers. Perennial girl-next-door Jane Powell stars as Judy, who casts aside her steady boyfriend Oogie (Scotty Beckett) after she develops a crush on an older man (Robert Stack). Unfortunately, Judy's scheming best friend Carol (Elizabeth Taylor) has eyes for the same man and competes shamelessly for his affections.
Jane Powell was used to playing good-girl types, but for Elizabeth Taylor A Date With Judy represented a chance to build a whole new image. Taylor had begun her career playing juvenile roles in films like Lassie Come Home (1943) and National Velvet (1944). The role of sultry bad-girl Carol in A Date With Judy gave her the opportunity to show the world that she was no longer a child, but a beautiful young woman. A direct contrast to Powell's girlish wholesomeness, Taylor's character was more mature, and costumes and makeup strategically played up her sensuality. This move would prove valuable to Taylor's career, as she rapidly became one of the screen's most enduring sex symbols. Jane Powell later expressed dismay that Taylor got to play the vampy role while she was stuck playing another good girl - "Elizabeth - who was younger than I - got to wear green eye shadow, show her figure in a tight sweater, and look sexy; that hurt. I was really a little jealous, not of her but of the green eye shadow." However, the two actresses were actually good friends who had been schooled together on the MGM lot. They shared a dressing room during the making of A Date With Judy and served as bridesmaids for each other at their respective first weddings.
Musical number highlights in A Date With Judy include the popular "It's a Most Unusual Day" and "Judaline." However, it's the "Brazilian Bombshell" Carmen Miranda who nearly steals the show in a supporting role as rhumba teacher Rosita. Her energetic rendition of "Cuanto Le Gusta" alone makes watching A Date With Judy worthwhile. Miranda was always a favorite of star Jane Powell "with her big banana hats and her heart as big as all outdoors." Playing Miranda's love interest is famed band leader and "Rhumba King" Xavier Cugat, who as usual plays a part close to himself and livens things up with his rousing Latin influenced music.
Character actor Wallace Beery plays Judy's father, who receives secret rhumba lessons from Carmen Miranda as an anniversary gift from his wife. Beery may have been right for the part, but to Jane Powell he was her least favorite on-screen dad. "He ignored everybody and everything. He never said hello. He never said good-bye. He never smiled," she recalled in her 1988 autobiography The Girl Next Door....and How She Grew. Plus, "He was stingy. If filming on a picture was coming to an end and he suspected there might be some retakes, he'd take home his entire wardrobe. One time he took a canoe that had property of MGM on the bottom, and rented it to the studio for retakes!" Still Powell respected him as an actor and recalled her overall experience on the film a pleasant one. Powell received the honor of getting her first on-screen kiss ever in A Date With Judy bestowed by handsome co-star Robert Stack.
A Date With Judy made a hit with the public, and a television series was eventually spun off in 1952 starring Mary Linn Beller as Judy.
Producer: Joe Pasternak
Director: Richard Thorpe
Screenplay: Dorothy Cooper, Dorothy Kingsley
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Paul Groesse
Cinematography: Robert Surtees
Editing: Harold F. Kress
Music: George Stoll
Cast: Wallace Beery (Melvin R. Foster), Leon Ames (Lucien T. Pringle), Jane Powell (Judy Foster), Elizabeth Taylor (Carol Pringle), George Cleveland (Gramps), Carmen Miranda (Rosita Conchellas), Robert Stack (Stephen Andrews), Lloyd Corrigan (Pop Scully), Scotty Beckett (Ogden "Oogie" Pringle).
C-114m. Closed captioning.
by Andrea Passafiume