In the Good Old Summertime

MGM was known for producing some of the best musicals of the classic film era, and this 1949 film is no exception (in our humble opinions).   We recorded this film earlier this summer on TCM and just got around to watching it.  Well worth the wait at the end of a long, hot summer.  The story is a remake of “The Shop Around the Corner” (which was in turn the basis for “You’ve Got Mail”), and concerns two pen pals who unbeknownst to each other are bickering co-workers.   Judy Garland as Veronica and Van Johnson as Andy are the aforementioned pen pals who work for Mr. Oberkugen (S. Z. Sakall at his loveable best here) in his music shop (in all other versions it was a bookstore, but well, there had to be a reason for breaking into song in the middle of a work day).   Supporting cast also includes Buster Keaton (who had to be cast in the film as he was the only person the director knew who could execute a particularly challenging scene – more about that later) and Spring Byington as the lovely lady friend of Mr. Oberkugen. One other supporting cast member of note – toddler Liza Minnelli has a cameo at the end of the movie as Veronica and Andy’s daughter. The familiar plot is refreshed with so many recognizable tunes, which prove yet again that Garland was an unparalleled talent.   Just too bad we never got to see Van Johnson dance a bit, but Buster Keaton more than made up for that with his impeccably executed accidental destruction of a violin late in the movie.  (Buster also directed a terrific prat-filled early scene when Veronica and Andy meet on the post office steps, so who cares that he is clearly a bit too old for the character he’s playing.)  As you would expect with an MGM musical, the production is beautiful: the street scenes in all seasons are perfect, the restaurants and theater feel like places you’ve been to, the music store is chock-filled with lovely details  and the costumes (Garland’s are by Irene – need I say more) are period-perfect and gorgeous.  For anyone looking for a feel-good movie to take you away from the real world for awhile, this is for you!  We give it Top in Genre and Worth the Search

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