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Home » Culture and Criticism

Dog Days of Summer Movies Film Fest: Summer Stock

Submitted by on August 1, 2011 – 12:46 AM4 Comments

Welcome to the Dog Days of Summer Movies Online Film Festival! As we "greet" August, a cavalcade of internet-film-buff stars will join me here on Tomato Nation to enjoy the virtual AC and talk about summer movies.

Kicking things off for us is Adam Grosswirth; frost a glass and enjoy!

—–

I am a gay man who has never seen a Judy Garland movie (except The Wizard of Oz, but that doesn't count because everyone's seen The Wizard of Oz). Until now.

Summer Stock begins with Judy showering and dressing for a day of work on the farm, singing her heart out. You know, as you do. Yes, I said "farm." If I didn't know anything about Judy Garland I would actually totally buy this. Except for the fire-engine-red lipstick (already on in the shower, of course) and sculpted eyebrows, she's totally pulling off Woman Who Inherited Her Daddy's Farm and Runs It Without the Help of a Man. I suspect the drugs help.

Anyway, long story short, Judy's sister has fallen in with Gene Kelly and invites him to have a backers' audition for his show in the family barn. You know, as you do. Gene teaches Judy that putting on a show is just as hard as farm work! (Though I've never done the latter, I'm not sure I can back this idea.) Judy enlists the company to work on the understaffed farm for their room and board and rehearsal space! They're not morning people! Tables are tap-danced upon! Phil Silvers is the kinda gay, kinda racist comic relief! Judy can sing and can take over the lead! (Which would've been a bigger surprise if she didn't sing two numbers before she even meets the troupe.) Everyone learns valuable lessons!

Summer Timeline: A calendar says it's late June at the beginning. Subsequent references to the timeline are wildly silly (what I assumed was a montage covering several days was apparently only a few hours).

Enviable Vacation Locale?: Um, not for me, no. Farms are not my thing. So much poop! (Not that any is evident in the movie.)

Coming of Age?: Everyone in this movie is already very much of age. Some are well beyond the age of their characters.

Quick-Burning Summer Romance?: Gee, do you think Judy and Gene will end up together? But Judy's engaged, and Gene's with Judy's sister! What's that, you say? Judy's sister always had a crush on Judy's fiancé? Problem solved! Phil Silvers, sadly, remains alone.

Best Summer Ever?: Absolutely. Though it's unclear if anyone ever gets paid for anything.

Unconventional Ways to Beat the Heat: None. In fact, all the farm work and dancing looks like it would work up quite a sweat if it weren't taking place on a soundstage, and Judy appears to be wearing a Christmas dress at one point.

Summer Fashions: Whole lotta overalls and high-waisted pants. Judy's sister usually looks cute, and Judy herself has a couple of outfits you've seen on many a drag queen.

Worth the A/C?: When I started watching, I was sort of delighted by the Technicolor MGMiness of it all, but by three-quarters of the way through, it was "I thought this movie was under two hours. Why does it feel like it's been 17 years?" There are far better films of this genre with these stars. That said, "Get Happy" is worth pretty much anything.

As A Summer Movie: I hate to be a stickler (wait, no I don't) but this movie has nothing to do with summer stock, which is an actual thing. I guess doing a show in a barn in the winter would be cold, but otherwise this is a summer movie in name only.

Adam is a former stage manager who now works for a small non-profit that helps theaters connect with each other and produce musicals. Which is both pretty awesome, and pretty gay. In his spare time, he enjoys being cranky. He blogs at judgmentcall.blogspot.com, and tweets @adam807.

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4 Comments »

  • Totally agree. There are a few nice moments, like Gene Kelly dancing on a newspaper, and a series of totally awful moments, such as every time Phil Silvers comes on and opens his yap. But then "Get Happy" appears right at the end and it is so utterly amazing that every sin is forgiven.

  • adam807 says:

    So happy to be here! You might say I forgot my troubles… Oh, but don't.

    Also: Best. Screenshot. Ever.

  • JAT says:

    The picture of Judy on the tractor (against the screen of random country road footage) looked so darn cute I might have rented this movie, but…yeah, no. I had previously had the impression that this 2-hour movie takes subjectively 17 years or more to watch, so thanks for confirming it and saving me. As for "Get Happy," there's always YouTube.

  • adam807 says:

    And it's worth noting that "Get Happy" has absolutely NO context. It's part of the show within the show, which is presented in bits and pieces, with no attempt at all to explain what it might be about. So YouTube is pretty much all you need.

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