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A year before becoming immortalized as Dorothy and Glinda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz, Judy Garland and Billie Burke teamed in Everybody Sing (1938), a musical comedy about a theatrical family in which Garland plays a trouble-prone student and Burke is her ultra-dramatic actress mother. It seems that Garland's character, who shares her first name, keeps getting expelled because she channels her boundless energy into performing and sets her school on its ear with such stunts as singing Mendellsohn to a "swing" beat.
Lynne Carver plays Judy's fetching older sister, with Reginald Owen as their father, Allan Jones as the family chauffeur and Reginald Gardiner as Burke's long-suffering leading man. In a rare movie role, legendary comedienne Fannie Brice plays the family's Russian maid, performing "Quainty, Dainty Me" and, with Garland, a number based on Brice's "Baby Snooks" character. In addition to "Swing Mr. Mendellsohn," Garland sings "Down on Melody Farm," "Ever Since the World Began" and, in blackface, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." Jones, MGM's resident tenor, handles "The One I Love," "The Show Must Go On" and several other tunes.
While Everybody Sing marked progress in Garland's budding career at MGM, offering her five musical numbers and equal billing with the firmly established Brice and Jones, the studio known for its glamorous stars still seemed uncertain of their new player's appeal. The movie's original title had been The Ugly Duckling, and ads for the completed film invited audiences to "Get an eyeful of lovely Lynne Carver, MGM's new glamour girl!" Garland stole the notices, however, with Film Weekly declaring that her singing lifted the movie into the "excellent" class and further stating that "Anyone who stands up to Miss Brice at her own comedy game is very good indeed."
As important as the film itself in the development of Garland's career was a seven-week, seven-city promotional tour that started in Miami Beach and included stops in New York and Chicago. With Garland mentor Roger Edens accompanying her on the piano, she stepped alone for the first time onto huge stages to sing in front of adoring crowds and began to establish the audience rapport that would, in time, make her one the world's greatest live entertainers.
Producer: Harry Rapf
Director: Edwin L. Marin
Screenplay: Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allan Woolf, James Gruen
Cinematography: Joseph Ruttenberg
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Original Music: Walter Jurmann, Bert Kalmar, Bronislau Kaper, Harry Ruby, Roger Edens (uncredited)
Editing: William S. Gray
Principal Cast: Allan Jones (Richard "Ricky" Saboni), Judy Garland (Judy Bellaire), Fanny Brice (Olga Chekaloff), Reginald Owen (Hillary Bellaire), Billie Burke (Diana Bellaire), Reginald Gardiner (Jerrold Hope), Lynne Carver (Sylvia Bellaire), Monty Wooley (John "Jack" Fleming).
BW-92m. Closed captioning.
by Roger Fristoe