Listen, Darling


1h 10m 1938
Listen, Darling

Brief Synopsis

Two children try to find a new husband for their widowed mother.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Musical
Release Date
Oct 21, 1938
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 10m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

"Pinkie" Wingate and her little brother Billie are very disturbed that their widowed mother Dotty plans to marry sour local banker Arthur Drubbs. Although Dotty does not love Drubbs, she is almost destitute and thinks that marriage to him is the only way to help Pinkie and Billie. "Buzz" Mitchel, Pinkie's high school sweetheart, concocts a plan with Pinkie to abduct Dotty and take her for a holiday in the country in the family's trailer. They are aided by Buzz's Uncle Joe, who detests Drubbs. Though she is at first angry, Dotty goes along with the scheme, but tells Buzz that she still plans to marry Drubbs when they return to Manson, their home town. Because they don't have much time, Buzz and Pinkie resolve to find Dotty a better prospective husband while they are on the open road. The next morning Buzz meets a fellow camper, Richard Thurlow, who seems to be perfect. He is a New York City lawyer, an amateur photographer and inventor and a "free soul" like Dotty's late husband. Although the two get off to a bad start when Billie gets sprayed by a skunk, ruining one of Richard's photographs, they are soon attracted to each other. Matters are complicated, however, when they children meet J. J. Slattery, a wealthy widower who owns an insurance company, loves children, and jokingly asks to "adopt" Billie. When Richard tells Dotty that he likes her because she has no sense of responsibility, she tells him that her children are more important than living on the open road and vows to return to Manson and marry Drubbs. After overhearing the conversation, Pinkie decides to ask Slattery to adopt her, too, so that Dotty can be happy with Richard. Slattery fixes things when he tells Richard what has happened and then arranges for the police to stop the Wingate trailer and hold it until Richard arrives. Richard then decides to take charge of the family and drive on together.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Musical
Release Date
Oct 21, 1938
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 10m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Articles

Listen, Darling


Listen, Darling (1938) marks the first time Judy Garland sang, "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart," which would become one of the signature songs of her career. In this black-and-white MGM musical, 16-year-old Garland plays the daughter of Mary Astor (as she would again in Meet Me in St. Louis, 1944) and conspires with pal Freddie Bartholomew to keep Astor from marrying Gene Lockhart. The kids disapprove of Lockhart and manage by the film's end to see that Astor is matched up instead with the much more suitable Walter Pidgeon. Along the way, Garland also sings "The Bumpy Road to Love" and "Ten Pins in the Sky."

Listen, Darling found Garland and Bartholomew at opposite arcs of their careers. Garland, already rehearsing The Wizard of Oz (1939) as Listen, Darling was being filmed, would emerge as a superstar the following year. Bartholomew, at 14, was seeing his fame as a child star grow dim. His best-remembered vehicles had come years earlier in the title roles of David Copperfield (1935) and Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936). After his roles dwindled, Bartholomew left movies and eventually became a successful advertising executive and television producer.

According to Garland biographer Gerold Frank, Bartholomew had a tremendous crush on Garland during the time of Listen, Darling, pinning ardent love notes to her dressing-room door and presenting her with gardenias. To Freddie's dismay, Judy looked upon him as a delightful younger brother and nothing more. For Garland, the chief irony of Listen, Darling was that her home life echoed the situation in the movie in that her mother, Ethel Gumm, was seeing a man named Will Gilmore who met with Garland's disapproval. Gumm and Gilmore would be married on November 17, 1939, the anniversary of the death of Garland's beloved father. Frank quotes Garland as saying, "That was the most awful thing that ever happened to me in my life. My mother marrying that awful man the same day my daddy died."

Producer: Jack Cummings
Director: Edwin L. Marin
Screenplay: Katherine Brush (story), Elaine Ryan, Anne Morrison Chapin, Noel Langley (uncredited)
Cinematography: Charles Lawton Jr., Lester White (uncredited)
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Original Music: Milton Ager, William Axt, James F. Hanley, Al Hoffman, Al Lewis, Joseph McCarthy, Murray Mencher
Editing: Blanche Sewell
Costume Design: Dolly Tree
Cast: Judy Garland ("Pinkie" Wingate), Freddie Bartholomew (Herbert "Buzz" Mitchell), Mary Astor (Dottie Wingate), Walter Pidgeon (Richard Thurlow), Alan Hale (J.J. Slattery), Scotty Becket (Billie Wingate), Gene Lockhart (Arthur Drubbs).
BW-75m. Closed captioning.

by Roger Fristoe
Listen, Darling

Listen, Darling

Listen, Darling (1938) marks the first time Judy Garland sang, "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart," which would become one of the signature songs of her career. In this black-and-white MGM musical, 16-year-old Garland plays the daughter of Mary Astor (as she would again in Meet Me in St. Louis, 1944) and conspires with pal Freddie Bartholomew to keep Astor from marrying Gene Lockhart. The kids disapprove of Lockhart and manage by the film's end to see that Astor is matched up instead with the much more suitable Walter Pidgeon. Along the way, Garland also sings "The Bumpy Road to Love" and "Ten Pins in the Sky." Listen, Darling found Garland and Bartholomew at opposite arcs of their careers. Garland, already rehearsing The Wizard of Oz (1939) as Listen, Darling was being filmed, would emerge as a superstar the following year. Bartholomew, at 14, was seeing his fame as a child star grow dim. His best-remembered vehicles had come years earlier in the title roles of David Copperfield (1935) and Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936). After his roles dwindled, Bartholomew left movies and eventually became a successful advertising executive and television producer. According to Garland biographer Gerold Frank, Bartholomew had a tremendous crush on Garland during the time of Listen, Darling, pinning ardent love notes to her dressing-room door and presenting her with gardenias. To Freddie's dismay, Judy looked upon him as a delightful younger brother and nothing more. For Garland, the chief irony of Listen, Darling was that her home life echoed the situation in the movie in that her mother, Ethel Gumm, was seeing a man named Will Gilmore who met with Garland's disapproval. Gumm and Gilmore would be married on November 17, 1939, the anniversary of the death of Garland's beloved father. Frank quotes Garland as saying, "That was the most awful thing that ever happened to me in my life. My mother marrying that awful man the same day my daddy died." Producer: Jack Cummings Director: Edwin L. Marin Screenplay: Katherine Brush (story), Elaine Ryan, Anne Morrison Chapin, Noel Langley (uncredited) Cinematography: Charles Lawton Jr., Lester White (uncredited) Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons Original Music: Milton Ager, William Axt, James F. Hanley, Al Hoffman, Al Lewis, Joseph McCarthy, Murray Mencher Editing: Blanche Sewell Costume Design: Dolly Tree Cast: Judy Garland ("Pinkie" Wingate), Freddie Bartholomew (Herbert "Buzz" Mitchell), Mary Astor (Dottie Wingate), Walter Pidgeon (Richard Thurlow), Alan Hale (J.J. Slattery), Scotty Becket (Billie Wingate), Gene Lockhart (Arthur Drubbs). BW-75m. Closed captioning. by Roger Fristoe

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Some early Hollywood Reporter production charts credit Lester White with the photography, although the film and all reviews only credit Charles Lawton, Jr. The extent of Lawton's participation in the released film has not been determined. According to a Motion Picture Daily news item, Edwin L. Marin took over the direction of the picture from William Thiele just prior to the start of production. This was the only film in which popular M-G-M juvenile stars Freddy Bartholomew and Judy Garland appeared together. The song "Zing Went the Strings of My Heart" became one of Garland's "signature" tunes, a standard of her performances for many years after the film. According to modern sources, M-G-M was cast in this film when filming of The Wizard of Oz was delayed from July to October 1938. Modern sources also note that Noel Langley worked on the script, although he was uncredited.