In the Good Old Summertime
Sunday November, 13 2016 at 04:15 PM
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The original title of MGM's musical remake of The Shop Around the Corner (1940) was The Girl From Chicago, with June Allyson and Frank Sinatra announced as its stars. By the time it went into production as In the Good Old Summertime, however, Allyson had become pregnant and was replaced by Judy Garland, with Van Johnson stepping in as leading man. Reset from a leather-goods shop in Budapest to a music store in turn-of-the-century Chicago, the story once again tells of pen pals who fall in love without realizing they are coworkers with a disagreeable on-the-job relationship. As in the original, the climax comes during the Yuletide season, providing Garland with the opportunity to sing a lovely song called "Merry Christmas."
Garland's other songs in the film include "Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland," "Put Your Arms Around Me, Honey," "Mr. Law Plays the Barbershop" (performed with a male quartet) and an especially spirited rendition of the Eva Tanguay signature song "I Don't Care." Garland's reputation at MGM by this time was that of a troubled genius who often caused delays and skyrocketing budgets. But, according to John Fricke in his 1992 book "Judy Garland: World's Greatest Entertainer, "Garland completed four of her six songs for the film in one session, never requiring more than three takes. She also managed to breeze through the filming."
When studio head Louis B. Mayer asked Johnson what had allowed Garland to get through the production so easily, her costar replied, "We made her feel wanted and needed. We joked with her and kept her happy." Producer Joe Pasternak elaborated: "A great artist is entitled to a lot more latitude. The quality that makes her great makes her feel more deeply. All of us felt - and you don't often feel this way in Hollywood - we would accommodate ourselves gladly to work with Judy... We knew her magical genius and respected it."
In the Good Old Summertime marked a beginning and an end. Two-and-a-half-year-old Liza Minnelli, the daughter of Garland and director Vincente Minnelli, made her (un-credited) film debut in the final scene as the child of the now-married Garland and Johnson characters. And Buster Keaton, in a supporting role, made his final appearance at MGM, where his silent-comedy triumphs had included The Cameraman (1928) and Spite Marriage (1929).
Director: Robert Z. Leonard, Buster Keaton (uncredited)
Producer: Joe Pasternak
Screenplay: Miklos Laszlo (play 'Parfumerie'), Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich,
Ivan Tors, Buster Keaton (uncredited)
Cinematography: Harry Stradling
Editor: Adrienne Fazan
Art Direction: Randall Duell, Cedric Gibbons
Music: George E. Stoll (uncredited)
Cast: Judy Garland (Veronica Fisher), Van Johnson (Andrew Derby Larkin), S.Z. 'Cuddles' Sakall (Otto Oberkugen), Spring Byington (Nellie Burke), Clinton Sundberg (Rudy Hansen)
C-103m. Close captioning. Descriptive Video.
by Roger Fristoe