Happy March everyone!!
For March, I'd like to semi-theme my blog around fantastic male dancers. I've changed the header of my page and an exciting post coming up on Sunday (well, I'm excited about it anyway!). So, for today's addition to the list of my top 100 movies, I'd like to talk about one of my favorite movies of one of my all-time favorite dancers (and probably one of your all-time favorite dancers too):
#18 Summer Stock (1950)
Ah, Gene Kelly! And oh! This movie is so great! So funny, fun, full of one-liners and wonderful music and fantastic dancing.
The basic storyline is as follows: Jane Falbury (Judy Garland) is having financial troubles with her farm. Because of this, her workers quit and leave her alone to tend to the property. When her sister, Abigail (Gloria de Haven) comes home from school, she brings an unexpected surprise for Jane - a group of actors looking to put on a show in Jane's barn! Jane grudgingly agrees to let them stay, with the stipulation that they help out around the farm. Things get complicated, however, when Jane falls for the director of the show, Joe Ross (Gene Kelly), who is semi-engaged to Abigail and when Jane's fiancee, Orville (Eddie Bracken) objects to the show.
This movie has some great songs in it. My favorites are Judy's famous "Get Happy" number (the one with the tuxedo top and fedora), a wonderful dance solo with Gene making use of a newspaper and a squeaky floorboard, a fun number, "Dig For Your Dinner" (I really can't think of a good way to describe it, sorry!), and a great scene when all the actors invade a square dance ("Dig! The squares are having a ball!"). There's also a really funny number called "Memory Island" that's supposedly supposed to fit into the show. That's the funny thing about play-within-a-play deals - what exactly could the plot entail with such a strange variety of numbers? Anyway, that scene is very funny.
Side note: I know Hans Conreid did other things in his life than play the voice of Captain Hook in Disney's Peter Pan, but I never cease to be amused by his line, "As we of the theater say, 'Never become dishearted!'" and he sounds just like Hook! hehe.
This was the last movie Judy Garland did for MGM, which is interesting and also a little sad. I won't go into the details because a) I don't know them, really and b) most everyone knows about her drug problems, so there's little point in making us all depressed by discussing them further. A couple interesting points I will point out are that Judy was slated to play in Royal Wedding, which would have been her last MGM musical but was replaced by Jane Powell. Also, she was supposed to be in the song, "Heavenly Music" with Gene Kelly and Phil Silvers but didn't show up to work that day so they filmed the song without her. Oh, and here's a cool tidbit I learned from IMDb that I really can't paraphrase so here it is: "On one particular day of fiming, Judy Garland was said to be 'not in a fit state to work' so Gene Kelly feigned a fall so that she would be able to take the day off." How sweet is that? I have heard that this movie sort of brought their relationship to full circle: in their first movie together, For Me and My Gal, Judy Garland acted as a sort of mentor and support system to Gene Kelly as he was new to movies, and here, in their last film, he was her support system.
Anyway, I highly recommend this movie. To whet your appetite a little more and to make up for the fact that I couldn't describe, "Dig For Your Dinner" in adequate terms, I'll embed the video below for your enjoyment.
P.S. I decided, hours after publishing this post, to add a poll. It's going to last for the whole month of March and it asks the big question: Gene or Fred?