Thursday, April 28, 2016


Judy Garland, just months before THE WIZARD OF OZ, stars in this annoying and tedious waste of good talent and a potentially interesting plot. The film revolves around the eccentric Bellaire family; the father (Reginald Owen) is a playwright, formerly rich but now down on his luck, and the mother (Billie Burke) is an actress. They have two daughters (Lynne Carver and Judy Garland), a maid (legendary Ziegfeld Follies perfomer Fanny Brice), and a cook (Allan Jones) who sings nights at a café. Also hanging around is Reginald Gardiner, Burke’s protégé and possibly her lover, though since this is an MGM family movie, that avenue is not explored. Garland has just been expelled from an arts school for "updating" Mendelssohn into swing mode, and the plot, once it kicks in and deadens any audience interest, involves Garland trying to help her struggling family by becoming a pop singer. The café owner puts up money for a musical show starring Jones, and he gives Garland a part, with Brice and Gardiner helping out. There is one cute number, "Down on Melody Farm," and Brice does one of her Baby Snooks bits which helped make her famous. Garland does two swing songs and an ill-advised blackface number. Owen and Burke, both of whom are usually favorites of mine, seem shrill and arificical, like they were both fed uppers before their scenes. Monty Woolley has a small role early on as a producer. The template for this is screwball comedy, what with the once-rich family, the assorted odd characters, and the romance—Carver is in love with Jones—but it just doesn't come together. I will say that Garland, Jones and Gardiner are entertaining but they're not quite enough reason to watch this half-baked musical. Pictured is the cast with Burke, Jones and Garland in the middle. [TCM]

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