Filled Under: Jane Powell
Happy Birthday Jane Powell and Debbie Reynolds
Actresses, singers, dancers, entertainers, and good friends Jane Powell and Debbie Reynolds were born on the same day three years apart. Jane Powell was born April 1, 1929 and Debbie Reynolds was born April 1, 1932. Both signed as teenagers with different studios, Powell with MGM and Reynolds with Warner Brothers. After Warner Brothers didn’t resign Reynolds, she signed with MGM and by the mid-1950s was a major star. Some of her films of note were “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952), “Tammy and the Bachelor” (1957), and “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” (1964). Powell also had great success with MGM, starring in classic musicals such as “Royal Wedding” (1951), with Fred Astaire, “A Date with Judy” (1948), with friend Elizabeth Taylor, and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” (1954), with Howard Keel. The two beautiful and talented stars appeared in three movies together “Two Weeks With Love” (1950), “Athena” (1954), and “Hit the Deck” (1955). After their movie careers slowed, Jane Powell and Debbie Reynolds both went on to enjoy successful stage and television careers.
“A Date with Judy” is a 1948 MGM musical film photographed in Technicolor starring Wallace Beery, Jane Powell, and Elizabeth Taylor. Directed by Richard Thorpe, the movie was based on the radio series of the same name. “A Date With Judy” also stars Carmen Miranda, Xavier Cugat, Robert Stack, Scotty Beckett, Leon Ames, Selena Royle, Clinton Sundberg, George Cleveland, Lloyd Corrigan, Jerry Hunter, and Jean McLaren. The film features Elizabeth Taylor’s beauty, the soprano singing voice of young Jane Powell, and is also a showcase for the musical performances of the Latin American singer Carmen Miranda and bandleader Xavier Cugat.
Judy Foster (Jane Powell) and Carol Pringle (Elizabeth Taylor) are teenagers and best friends who find their loyalties tested from complications arising because of the upcoming high school dance. Judy Foster expects boyfriend “Oogie” Pringle (Scotty Beckett) to be her escort, but he declines. Meanwhile, Oogie’s sister, sophisticated senior Carol Pringle has booked famous bandleader Xavier Cugat and his orchestra for the dance. Cugat’s lady friend and singing star with his band, Rosita Cochellas (Carmen Miranda), is also a dance instructor who is secretly giving dancing lessons to Judy’s father, Melvin Foster (Wallace Beery). Soda shop owner Pop Scully (Lloyd Corrigan) introduces a disappointed Judy to his handsome nephew Stephen I. Andrews (Robert Stack), who volunteers to take Judy to the dance, even though he’s considerably older. Judy finds him dreamy, and having Stephen as her date definitely makes Oogie jealous. Stephen, however, falls for the beautiful Carol instead. All this is very annoying to Judy, as is her discovery that her dad is seeing Rosita behind her mother’s back. Judy thinks they are having a romantic affair and enlists Carol to do a little sleuthing to try to figure out what really is going on between her dad and Rosita. With all these complications, humorous misunderstandings abound, including Rosita trying to explain the situation to her boyfriend, Cugat.
“A Date With Judy” is typical of MGM’s musical entertainment of the era. With that said, I thought “A Date With Judy” is one of the more enjoyable musicals they made. Definitely not MGM’s best, but very good. The film was a showcase for two of MGM’s most popular rising stars of the time in Elizabeth Taylor and Jane Powell. Elizabeth Taylor, age sixteen, and Jane Powell, age nineteen, are both very charming in their respective roles. Elizabeth’s great beauty was in full display as she was given the full MGM glamour treatment, including specially designed gowns just for her. Jane Powell shows off her singing voice with “A Most Unusual Day” and “Love Is Where You Find It”. Xavier Cugat and his band with Carmen Miranda as his star attraction are excellent as always. Leon Ames, Robert Stack, and Scotty Beckett are also very good. Wallace Berry is great as Jane Powell’s father and his dancing the ‘Rumba’ towards the end of the film almost steals the show. All in all a very charming and lighthearted film showcasing Elizabeth Taylor’s beauty, Jane Powell’s lovely voice and charm, along with Xavier Cugat and Carmen Miranda’s musical excellence.
Music, Romance, Fun: Don’t Miss The Boat!!
“Hit The Deck” (1955) is a MGM musical romantic comedy starring Jane Powell, Debbie Reynolds, Ann Miller, Tony Martin, Vic Damone, and Russ Tamblyn. Hit The Deck is about three sailors (Martin, Damone, and Tamblin) and three cuties (Powell, Reynolds, and Miller) who fight, squabble, run afoul of the shore patrol, and of course fall in love. With all the star power on display, singing and dancing to a parade of Vincent Youman’s tunes, Hit The Deck is another fun musical reminiscent of all the other great musicals of that era. Highlights include Ann Miller polishing the floor as ‘The Lady From The Bayou”, Tony Martin’s ‘More Than You Know’, and the rousing finale ‘Hallelujah’.