Filled Under: *Movies Musicals
“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.
HAYWORTH–never lovelier! ASTAIRE–never more exciting!
KERN’S MUSIC–never more inspired!
“You Were Never Lovelier” (Columbia Pictures) is a 1942 Hollywood musical comedy film, set in Buenos Aires. The movie stars Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth, Adolphe Menjou and Xavier Cugat, also with Isobel Elsom, Leslie Brooks, Adele Mara, and Gus Schilling. The film was directed by William A. Seiter. “You Were Never Lovelier” was the second of Astaire’s outings with Hayworth after the box-office success of the earlier “You’ll Never Get Rich” in 1941. Music is by Jerome Kern and lyrics by Johnny Mercer. Kern and Mercer provide two songs for the movie that have become standards, “Dearly Beloved” and “I’m Old Fashioned”. The dance sequence to “I’m Old Fashioned” with Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth is as pure and romantic as any Hollywood as ever offered. Hayworth and Astaire also team up in a combination American swing and tap dancing routine to the song “The Shorty George” in which they both get to show off their dancing skills. Astaire shines in his “Audition Dance” which Astaire himself called one of his best solos ever. Initially, Kern was unhappy about the selection of Xavier Cugat and his orchestra. But when production was complete, he was so pleased with the band’s performance that he presented Cugart with a silver baton. Although Hayworth had a fine voice, Harry Cohn insisted on her singing being dubbed throughout by Nan Wynn.
The Acunas, a rich Argentine family, have the tradition that the daughters have to get married in order, oldest first and in the Acuna household tradition rules. When sister #1 gets married, sisters #3 and #4 (Leslie Brooks and Adele Mara) put pressure on Maria (Rita Hayworth), sister #2, because they have their husbands picked out already. But Maria hasn’t yet met a man she likes. Eduardo Acuna (Adolphe Menjou), believing that men aren’t romantic enough these days, sends his daughter flowers and anonymous love letters, creating a “mystery man” for her to fall in love with. He intends to pick out an appropriate beau for her later, to fill the role. But when Robert Davis (Fred Astaire), an American dancer looking for work, stumbles into the picture romance ensues, much to the delight of the younger Acuna sisters and the dismay of Mr. Acuna.
“You Were Never Lovelier” was nominated for three Academy Awards: Music Scoring of a Musical Picture, Music Song (for Dearly Beloved), and Sound Recording.
“I’m Old Fashioned” — Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth
ALL TALKING ALL SINGING ALL DANCING
“The Broadway Melody” is a 1929 American musical film and the first sound film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. The film was the first musical released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and was Hollywood’s first all-talking musical. It starred Anita Page, Bessie Love, and Charles King. The film was written by Norman Houston and James Gleason from a story by Edmund Goulding, and directed by Harry Beaumont. Original music was written by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown, including the popular hit “You Were Meant For Me”. The George M. Cohan classic “Give My Regards To Broadway” is used under the opening establishing shots of New York City, its film debut. Bessie Love was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance.
BROADWAY MELODY (1929) first clip
The story line is pretty simple as most musicals are. Harriet (Bessie Love) and Queenie Mahoney (Anita Page), a sister vaudeville act, come to Broadway, where their friend Eddie Kerns (Charles Kearn) needs them for his number in one of Francis Zanfield’s shows. Eddie was in love with Harriet, but when he meets Queenie, he begins to fall in love with her, but she is courted by Jock Warriner (Kenneth Thompson), a member of the New Yorker high society. As Queenie begins to recognize she is nothing more than a toy for Jock, Harriet begins to realize that Eddie is in love with Queenie. All this is set to backdrop of getting ready for the show.
Bessie Love and Anita Page shine in their roles and the movie is filled with great musical numbers, dancing, and entertainment. The success of “The Broadway Melody” set the stage for the great American Musical genre which lasted for over three decades.
“Night and Day” is a 1946 Technicolor Warner Bros. biographical film about American composer and songwriter Cole Porter. The movie was directed by Michael Curtiz and produced by Arthur Schwartz, with Jack L. Warner as executive producer. The screenplay was written by Charles Hoffman, Leo Townsend and William Bowers. The music score by Ray Heindorf and Max Steiner was nominated for an Academy Award. The film features over twenty of the best-known Porter songs, including the title song, “Night and Day”, “Begin the Beguine” and Mary Martin’s great rendition of “My Heart Belongs to Daddy”. Cary Grant stars as Cole Porter and Alexis Smith plays Linda Lee Porter, Porter’s wife of 35 years. Monty Woolley and Mary Martin appear as themselves, and the rest of the cast includes Jane Wyman, Eve Arden, Alan Hale, Dorothy Malone, Donald Woods, and Ginny Simms.
Mary Martin performs “My Heart Belongs To Daddy” from “Night and Day” (1946)
“Night and Day” is a highly fictionalized and sanitized version of Cole Porter’s life, leaving out amongst other things his homosexuality, he was a gay man in a marriage of convenience with a divorcee friend Linda Lee Thomas, Monty Wooley was a contemporary not a Professor, and many writers are skeptical of the extent of his military experience in the French Foreign Legion. The movie was panned by critics but the film was a huge success, chiefly because of the wealth of vintage Porter songs.
“This story is about a little girl. It could be about any one of those little girls playing there. But it isn’t. It’s about one in particular. Her name is Gigi.” ~ Honore Lachaille (Maurice Chevalier)
“Gigi” is a 1958 musical film produced by Arthur Freed and directed by Vincente Minnelli. The screenplay by Alan Jay Lerner is based on the 1944 novella of the same name by Colette. Set in turn-of-the-20th century Paris, a rich playboy Gaston Lachaille (Louis Jourdan) and a young courtesan-in-training Gigi (Leslie Caron) enjoy a platonic friendship. Gaston, the heir of a wealthy Parisian family enjoys refuge from the lifestyle of an upper class Parisian 1900s society with Madame Alvarez (Hermoine Gingold) who was the former mistress of his uncle Honore Lachaille (Maurice Chevalier) and her outgoing, tomboy granddaughter, Gigi. She enjoys spending time with Gaston, whom she regards as an elder brother. Madame Alvarez sends Gigi to her sister, Gigi’s Great Aunt Alicia to be groomed as a courtesan and learn etiquette and charm. The young girl initially is a very poor student who fails to understand the reasons behind her education. As Gaston becomes more aware that Gigi has matured into a woman, her grandmother Madame Alvare and great aunt Alicia, who have educated Gigi to be a wealthy man’s mistress, urge the pair to act out their roles as wealthy playboy and courtesan. Young Gigi, not thrilled with the outlook of a courtesan’s life, relunctantly agrees as she would rather be “miserable with him as miserable without him”, but as with all MGM musicals of that time love has a way of overcoming all.
“Gigi” (1958) Trailer
“Gigi” won what was at the time a record-breaking 9 Academy Awards at the 1959 Awards ceremony, including the Oscar for Best Picture and one for Best Director (Vincente Minelli). “Gigi” also won three Golden Globe Awards for Best Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy, for Best Dirctor (Vincente Minelli), and for Best Supporting Actress-Motion Picture (Hermione Gingold). Leslie Caron was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress-Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. Maurice Chevalier and Louis Jourdan were nominated for Golden Globes for Best Actor-Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.
In 1991, Gigi was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” The American Film Institute ranked it #35 in AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Passions.
Gigi is considered the last great MGM musical and the final great achievement of the Freed Unit, headed by producer Arthur Freed although he would go on to produce several more films, including the musical Bells Are Ringing in 1960.