Summer Stock (1950) Poster


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Ash-6512 February 1999
I like it. Let me explain, I like Gene Kelly and I like Judy Garland so I like this movie. It's a little weak on the plot, but there are a lot of good reasons to see it. For example- this was Judy Garland's last film with M-G-M. It has Get Happy in it, which is now included on practically all of Judy's 'best of' CDs. It's great to hear, but watching the number is marvelous. This was the year just before one of Kelly's major achievements, An American in Paris, and it's nice to see the difference in his billing, character, etc. Also, there's the romantic number 'You Wonderful You', which bears a resemblance to 'You Were Meant For Me' in Singin' in the Rain with the stage lights and stuff. It's obvious that Gene Kelly picked up some things he liked and carried them with him. That's why I like this movie. Yes, it's cute and breezy, but sometimes you just want a Garland/Kelly musical!

P.S. And who could blame you? ; )
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"When You Work For Mother Nature, You Get Paid By Father Time"
bkoganbing17 August 2008
Summer Stock was the third and last pairing of Gene Kelly and Judy Garland by MGM. It's sad to think that there were no others because of Judy's personal problems. She would have a breakdown and would not be before the cameras again until four year later with A Star Is Born.

Judy barely got through Summer Stock. She had been replaced in Annie Get Your Gun by Betty Hutton and had not started Royal Wedding yet, but was also replaced there by Jane Powell. It was Gene Kelly's patience with her that got her through this film. Interesting also because Kelly was not known as the world's most patient man when working.

It was worth it because Summer Stock contains some of Judy's best musical moments. Most of the score was written by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon, but someone was inspired at MGM to give Judy Get Happy by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler. That is half of the team that wrote Over the Rainbow for her. Get Happy became another song identified with Judy Garland the rest of her life and into her legend.

But a favorite of mine is Howdy Neighbor. I do so love how that number is staged with Judy riding on a tractor through the fields and on the road near her farm. Catch her at the very end of the song and you can visibly see her breathing heavy. She was obviously under a strain doing this number and in fact the whole film.

Kelly doesn't do too bad either with a song that became identified with him, You Wonderful You. I still remember him singing it to Miss Piggy when guesting on the Muppets.

Summer Stock is another variation on a backstage romance and the discovery of hidden talent. Judy's sister Gloria DeHaven invites the cast and crew of her show to stay at their farm in Connecticut. But Judy's not happy with it. Of course Kelly charms her and discovers along the way who has the real talent in the family.

The film holds up well today and the talent of Judy Garland and Gene Kelly is absolutely eternal.
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A Friendly Star in Judy Garland.
movibuf196214 January 2005
Some moments of this otherwise B-level film are quite astonishing, like Gene Kelly's solo dance with the newspaper or the conversation between Gloria De Haven and Eddie Bracken which gently reveals their affection for each other. But the film, more or less, belongs to Judy Garland- she of the frequently strained health and nerves, who nevertheless made it all look very easy. That said, this is a good one, albeit a corny one. The hillbilly number done with Kelly, Phil Silvers, and the chorus is a bit much, but the film does show off Garland's talent for low-key, witty comedy. And "Get Happy" aside, the 'Portland Fancy' square dance which seamlessly turns into a swing duet with Garland and Kelly is probably the most enjoyable moment of the whole film. (Considering Garland's strength was singing, her dancing was quite impressive.) And my favorite Garland solo is the moonlit ballad "Friendly Star," done almost all in closeup, with the star's beautiful dark eyes on the brink of tears through the whole number. It's a pleasant swan song for her MGM era, but thankfully, her greatest musical (A Star Is Born) was still yet to come.
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A Delightful Trip Down Memory Lane
jejarrell7 August 2005
One reviewer claimed Judy Garland looked overweight and uncomfortable, and to some extent, I agree. She was poorly costumed in ridiculous looking overalls for much of the film. In the black/white show number, while most of the girls wore sleek showgirl outfits, Ms. Garland's dress looked like someone got it stuck in a sewing machine.

That said, I adored this movie because of the performances. Gene Kelly is absolutely stunning...a gorgeous man with a gorgeous voice and dance ability that would make the best Broadway "hoofer" jealous. His scenes and songs with Judy were top-notch.

I had never seen this film until recently, and I was delighted to see "Get Happy" was a part of this film. It's one of the highlights of the movie, along with a special tap dance routine Gene Kelly has with a creaky floorboard and a piece of newspaper (wow, is all I can say about that one).

See this movie because of the stars...they carried it. A truly fun and enjoyable film, despite its flaws.
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A Great Pairing (Again!!!)
Schlockmeister19 September 2000
Judy & Gene...what a wonderful Hollywood combination! It's great to see two all-around entertainers working together. Great movie, great songs and dance numbers. Plot was a little weak, but a great musical covers a multitude of sins. I had trouble in seeing Judy as a farmgirl from the country. She had already played this role, sort of, in "Wizard Of Oz", but she was younger then. Like I said.. a good musical makes it all okay. Marjorie Mains was great as always. She had done the "Ma Kettle" role so well for so long that she had taken to playing various versions of it the rest of her life. Eddie Braken as Orville, Judy's fiancee in the movie was good casting. Phil Silvers steals the show in scenes he is in but can be a little grating at times with his silliness here. It all leads up to Judy's performance in "Get happy" though, doesn't it? I mean, you see this glorious performance and the movie suddenly goes from good to "classic". "Get Happy" would soon become one of Judy's signature songs. It's very obvious that 1949-50 were hard times for Judy. Her weight was yo-yoing (Compare the scenes in the beginning where she is in overalls to her singing "Get Happy"), in a few scenes she does not seem fully present or focused. But as another writer here has said, she could do more on her bad days then most everyone else could do on their best. She seemed happiest when she was singing. Always.
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Bright Musical
harry-7612 December 2003
To look at "Summer Stock" you wouldn't think there were any challenges. Everyone seems to be having a happy time.

The remarkable thing is how Judy Garland's weight problems, due to over eating and drugs, were covered up. She looks fresh and bubbly, along with here co-star, Gene Kelly, who was pushing 40, and hankering to get on to more ambitious film projects.

The two are perfectly paired and, with the comedy of Phil Silvers and "other woman" of Gloria DeHaven, this musical comes off swimmingly.

I really love Judy's renditions of the joyous "Hello, Neighbor," the lovely "Friendly Star," and the show-stopping, "Get Happy." Her voice is in fine condition, and is a pleasure to hear. Kelly dances up a storm, and the entire production smiles with good cheer.

As one of Judy's songs go, "If You Feel Like Singing . . . Sing!" She does, and we are the lucky recipients.
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Final Scene "Get Happy"
bronte60413 January 2005
I actually made a point to see this film after reading about Miss Garland. The final "Get Happy" scene was shot weeks after the film wrapped and Miss Garland was sent to a "clinic"...she was called back only weeks later and fell into a deep depression and was, suppposedly, not in good good shape mentally as she shot that scene but if you notice, she is at least 20 pounds lighter in the scene than the rest of the film. I think this just shows how brilliant Miss Garland really was, to be so troubled but still nail the scene and song that would later be a staple in her act...she truly had something in her that few have ever and will ever possess.
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In this simple musical tale are compelling evidence of Garland and Kelly's grace and style.
classicfilmarchives22 April 2002
In the canon of MGM musicals of the Golden Age, "Summer Stock" is an overlooked and underrated pleasure. As relaxed as a summer day spent on a farm like the one in the film, this soft shoe of a musical doesn't aim for greatness, though it very nearly reaches it on one or two occasions. Filmed in sunny, bandbox Technicolor, the films opens on Judy Garland singing in her morning shower. She is Jane Falbury, the mistress of a New England farm going to seed. Sassy Marjorie Main is the maid and cook, pretty Gloria DeHaven is her irresponsible sister who has run off to New York to become an actress, and Eddie Bracken is Garland's hopelessly inept fiancee, manager of the local general store. Garland's wry way with a comic line is richly evident in this film, as she trys to deal with one exasperating annoyance after another. She is in superb singing voice, and most charming when she holds one long, belting note to the very end and then, looking into the camera, nearly collapses with mock-exhaustion. Into this bucolic chaos lands handsome Gene Kelly and his troupe of Broadway gypsies, promised by DeHaven that they can use her sister's barn for a summer stock production of Kelly's new musical. With sarcastic assist by Phil Silvers, Kelly sets about convincing a skeptical Garland that one hand can wash the other: if she consents to the barn being used as a theatre, the troupe will help save her foundering farm by performing the daily chores and harvest planting. Of course, all manner of of mishap and misunderstanding ensue; happily, none of them stand in the way of Garland and Kelly performing a handful of enjoyable numbers. After Astaire and Rogers, Garland and Kelly were surely filmdom's most sublime song and dance duo, and they perform one dance here, a jazzed-up "Portland Fancy", which nearly stops the show. Apart from their duets, they shine in solo numbers which are manna to fans of great talent. Both stars ascended greater cinematic heights after this film, Kelly in "Singin In The Rain" and Garland at Warner Bros. for "A Star Is Born", but here in this simple tale are found some of the most compelling examples of their style and grace: Garland singing the yearning "Friendly Star" in the summer moonlight, Kelly whistling "You Wonderful You" on a lonely stage with a discarded newspaper as his partner. But finally, the highlight of the film is to be had by Garland in the big finale at the end. Having been cajoled into joining the troupe for their pre-Broadway opening in her barn, Garland and a phalanx of chorus boys jump off the screen with the Harold Arlen standard "Get Happy". Heralded by the blare of the MGM Studio Orchestra brass section, Garland steps out from behind the black-suited line of men wearing only a tuxedo jacket, black pumps, and a man's hat set rakishly atop her head. Looking chic and sexy, dancing with the boys, she makes the Arlen chestnut her own, and uses her considerable show biz muscle to pull down one of the most memorable performances in musical history. Garland's electrifying number dominates the film's reputation, and deservedly so. It is for one to still marvel how this diminutive, talented actress could, for five or so minutes, turn a breezy, unambitious musical into a great one.
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Judy's charming MGM swan song...
denis-3817 August 2008
I think many of the comments posted reflect what many of the posters know about the agonizing production of Judy's final film for MGM. This simple, very corny movie took months and months to shoot and Judy was either late or not appearing or collapsing. Okay. But if we didn't know that, how would we view the finished product? In my opinion none of the stress shows. Garland is by no means "fat" She is at the weight nature--if not MGM--intended. She's on the plump side. She is exquisitely photographed, and well-costumed. She's a farm girl; the over-alls make sense, as well as working to conceal her a bit. The dresses are flattering and designed to give her shape and height. Her face is lovely, still. (Four years later, in "A Star Is Born" she looks harsh and a decade older than her actual age.) Her voice is in top form, especially on "Evening Star" an unjustly forgotten gem. Gene Kelly looks fantastic and gives his all to a movie he didn't want to do. He felt, justifiably, that it was an old Mickey/Judy re-tread. And now, literally, a show was being performed in a barn! But he did it for Judy, who'd given him his movie break in "For Me and My Gal" back in 1941.

It goes on, and meanders, as so many MGM musical do, but it is still a satisfying, enjoyable example of the genre.

And, for all the "hokcum", sentiment and predictable outcomes, "Summer Stock" also offers Judy's best dancing sequence, ever--in any film. For Miss Garland to have risen to the challenge offered, in a movie that offered so few, and in her emotional distress...well, that's genius, folks.
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This time Judy doesn't have to borrow a barn to put on a show!
theowinthrop17 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
It was her last MGM musical, and one of her best. But she was really troublesome in the making of it, so MGM fired her and her career (which included at least two more great performances) never recovered in the movies. That is how SUMMER STOCK is recalled today - the film that wrote "finish" to Judy Garland's film stardom at MGM.

But SUMMER STOCK is also the film that gave her her last chance to appear opposite Gene Kelly and to play a story line that she was familiar with. For here Judy returns to the story line of the musicals she made in the early 1940s with Mickey Rooney, regarding "putting on the show". The difference is that she and Mickey and the others were teenagers (or supposedly teenagers) showing up the dubious grown-ups. Here it is grown-ups putting on a show for an out-of-town preview in a small town.

Judy is living in a New England town, where her family has old, old roots (at one point we learn her great great grandfather set up an anti-theater law in 1698!). She and her sister, Gloria DeHaven, own a farm. Judy has been courted, and is engaged, to Eddie Bracken, the son of the town banker Ray Collins. Bracken is his typical weak type, with eyeglasses and hay fever. Collins is typically fatherly, but a bit of a bully to his son (not for any bad reasons). He looks forward to the marriage as a way of uniting the two oldest families of the area. And he even does Garland a favor, giving her a new tractor for her farm at cost.

DeHaven has always been the pampered younger daughter. She has been dating Kelly and invites him and the cast of his musical review production to put it on in the barn of her farm. The musical not only has Kelly as director, producer, and star, but also has Phil Silvers and Carleton Carpenter as his assistants (in Silvers' case, supposed assistant as he's a walking disaster area), and also been lucky enough to get a famous leading man named Keith (Hans Conreid, effective in his brief part but all too brief). They descend on the farm and Garland and her cook and helper Marjorie Main are uncertain about what exactly to do. Collins and Bracken are not too helpful. In fact their parochial attitude to theater people is very hostile.

As the film progresses Garland slowly gets dragged into the production, especially as DeHaven's interest flags. In the meantime the relationship of Bracken and Garland starts cracking seriously as he gets suspicious of the intentions of Kelly towards his intended.

The numbers are pretty good, particularly the songs "Howdy Neighbor", "You Wonderful You", "Heavenly Music", and the last minute show stopper, "Get Happy!" Oddly enough, in the discussions I see on this thread, nobody notes the ridiculous tune that Conreid (it's not his voice) and DeHaven sing "Alone on a Lonely Island". It is done in such a way to spoof the stiff, overly rich voice of Conreid's "Heath". As it does not show up in the final production it probably was only meant for that character.

It is too bad that SUMMER STOCK was her last MGM film...but at least Judy left on a high note.
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Features famous "Get Happy" number...and lots of padding
moonspinner559 April 2006
Theater people invade Judy Garland's farm; they want to put on a show in her barn, but will she let her guard down long enough to join them on stage? Since the picture opens with Garland in a musical sequence (performing "If You Feel Like Singing", this film's title overseas) and the information is dropped early on that her property is in dire straits financially, the answer (and the entire plot) is fairly obvious. Some of the numbers are wonderful, particularly the justifiably famous "Get Happy" show-stopper, but several just pad the running-time and the screenplay is second-hand stuff. Gene Kelly does an ingenious bit dancing with a newspaper, but his dumb yokel act with Phil Silvers is excruciating, as is their pseudo-gospel number "Dig For Your Dinner". **1/2 from ****
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Get Happy, ironic
playground_swing14 July 2004
There are two excellent high points in this movie. One is Kelley's newspaper and creaking board dance and the other is when Judy Garland sings and dances to Harold Arlen's "Get Happy" (his first published song from 1929 -- brought out of mothballs in this 1950 film). The irony is that "Get Happy" and the comic happy nature of the film are the opposite of what you can see in Judy Garland. Her fragility and fear of being unattractive simmer up through her performance. That makes the movie interesting on an unintended level.

The plot of the movie is really bad, but the movie is saved by the sensational dancing and one great song. It is also very interesting to watch the expertise used to hide Judy Garland's body shape as much as possible. I appreciated Judy Garland much more after seeing this movie. You can see the sadness and despair through all the smiles, dancing, and singing. If you are a Judy Garland fan, you must see this movie.
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Judy Garland I love You
mrdonleone3 May 2008
Many years ago, I saw this movie gem for the first time. I adored it. Today, I saw it again, but I must confess it wasn't a joyful experience. Yes, sure, the fantastic song and dance numbers where there all right, but the magic was gone. I guess that's because I already knew what was going to happen. Plus the irritating persona (almost every character in this movie is pulling the blood from under my nails). I would give this a 5 on 10, if there wasn't a meaning in the picture. Oh yes, there is a meaning in this picture, but not quite like I hoped it was. The whole reason to see this movie is to hear Judy Garland sing 'Get Happy'. That song has been tried by many of the 'Idol' contestants over the world, but none of them did it the way Judy did. Garland, I love you!
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"Crispy Lettuce in Your Jeans"....Puh-leeeez!
lrrap9 July 2003
About 20 minutes into the film, Judy, whose two old geeky farm laborers have suddenly up and left her in the lurch, goes to town and buys a brand-new shiny tractor from her even geek-ier boyfriend (Eddie Bracken) and his overbearing father (Ray Collins).

As Judy drives the tractor back to her farm, she sings this wonderfully hokey but somewhat bizarre song entitled "Howdy, Neighbor!" with music by the phenomenal Harry Warren (of 1930's Warner Bros/Busby Berkeley musical fame) and lyrics by Mack David. Technically, the song keeps twisting and turning in terms of it's harmonies, phrase lengths and rhyme schemes, as if the creators were having a great time turning what should be a simple, straightforward country tune into a sophisticated musical "brain-teaser" which never goes quite where you expect it to.

This sequence features two of the most god-awful jump-cut edits in film history, as the background ABRUPTLY changes, while Judy just keeps chuggin' along (one of these edits occurs BEFORE she pulls into town for gas, the other as she is LEAVING the town).

While she's gassing up, she is surrounded by one of the goofiest assortment of extras you'll ever see, including this strange, very tall young woman who is dressed in a sort of pre-hippie ensemble of purples and blacks, complete with a cooley-style hat hanging on her back; how this could POSSIBLY pass for 1950 backwoods garb is beyond me. As Judy sings to this motley assortment, she actually tells them that they will be "blessed with crispy lettuce in your jeans", which they all cheerfully shout back at her (as the studio back-up chorus takes over for them). I assume that the reference is to money, which used to be referred to as "lettuce".

At the very end of the song, as Judy belts out the final note with an almost-paralyzing gusto, the camera hovers above her open mouth for what seems like an eternity, as we seem perilously close to hurtling down her gullet; it's amazingly over-the-top, and Judy's final little expression to the camera, as if to say, "Man, I thought that note would NEVER end", perhaps lets us know that the entire number is intended to be a bit of a "send-up."

What does all of this have to do with the film?? Not much, really. It's just so...well....unique. This song is the only extended instance of outdoor location shooting in the film, and it's such a great example of that bright, innocent, up-beat early 50's feeling that seems to have totally vanished from films today, and indeed our world as a whole.

Summer Stock, while not really top-drawer MGM stuff, is a VERY enjoyable film, a spirited variation on the "let's put on a show in the barn" routine, with Jean and Judy as captivating as always. Marjorie Main, Eddie Bracken, and Hans Conreid are just some of the wonderful supporting players, and Phil Silvers (in those rare moments when he isn't doing his annoying, manic "Aren't I funny?" business) is also in fine form.

Gene and Phil Silver's "Heavenly Music" number near the end,(complete with blacked-out teeth, giant rubber feet, yodeling, barking dogs, etc) is MGM at its most outlandish and wacky, a nice way for the big-city theatre people to poke fun at the locals who resent them so keenly. And then there are the lovely ballads, and the film's real highlight, Mr.Kelly's late-night, squeaky floorboard, newspaper-shuffling solo dance routine in the barn.

Lots of good old-fashioned, classy fun. Is a DVD release in the future??
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"Bye bye, Auntie Em! Show Biz is Calling!"
tpanebia20 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Parts of this movie are terrific, and I'll mention them first. Despite some comments grousing that Judy looks frumpy or that her hair is weird, I thought she looked great -- on the plump side, but healthy looking and wholesome. She looked like a farmer, which is what her character is. And Gene Kelly is, in my view, at his best here. I like Kelly, but sometimes find him to be a bit smirky or hammy, and in this movie, he is more vulnerable and sympathetic --- less of the usual bravado. Judy's opening numbers on the farm were very appealing, both her "shower" number and her joyful song on the new tractor. And Kelly is at his best in the barn number, "improvising" with bits of newspaper and a squeaky floor board. Top rate performances from both of the stars.

Now for the negatives: The minor characters' parts are a bit bland and/or unappealing: GloriaDeHaven plays a selfish brat, Carleton Carpenter barely registers despite his talents, Hans Conreid was creepy as the star of the show within the show, and Eddie Bracken and Ray Collins as Judy's wimpy fiancé and his overbearing dad are more annoying than funny. It's the writing more than the actors that's the problem, except for the biggest problem: I found Phil Silvers unwatchable. He starts off with an egregiously, jaw-droppingly offensive "Negro" accent on the "Dig Dig Dig" gospel type number, and then to make up for it, he does a white-trash hillbilly number with Kelly that would be too cheesy for Hee-Haw. Throughout the movie, he was grating without having the redeeming qualities of being funny.

The end of the movie was a bit of a let-down for me and it took a while for me to figure out why, but I think I have it: The best parts of the film for me were the farm scenes. Judy was fresh and vibrant, and the farm life was portrayed as extremely appealing --- like Dorothy Gale grown up, having realized that there is indeed no place like home. Then, by the end of the movie, Judy falls in love with Kelly and stars in his show, which is destined to be a hit. (If anyone thinks this is a spoiler, he needs to see more movie musicals.) And this is a bit sad for me, because the show biz types in the movie seemed either bland or selfish; when they registered at all, they were being recklessly destructive on the farm, or condescending toward the farmers. And the "show" itself, doesn't seem all that wonderful. More like a vaudeville montage. So while we are supposed to cheer that Judy is likely to leave the farm for show biz and run off with Kelly, I thought, "Well this is a damn shame!"

One final comment: this is the movie with Judy's "Get Happy" number in her fedora, tux jacket, black stockings and heels. And she looks 20 pounds skinnier and 20 years older in that number compared to the rest of the movie. It is vintage Judy and she does a great job --- but it doesn't seem like it fits the movie or her character. (Even the chorus boys in the number were not in the rest of the show.) I understand that the number was plopped in after the rest of the filming, to add some dazzle to the ending, and while it is dazzling, it didn't much help the cohesiveness of the movie and we do not believe for a second that Judy's farm spinster is the character suddenly creating this sophisticated persona.

So, while I liked the movie, a few parts of this film fell flat for me. But if you like Judy and Gene, then it is well worth seeing for that reason alone --- because they each do some of their best work, and are at their most appealing and attractive.
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Enjoyable Musical Numbers Make Up For Weaknesses Elsewhere
Snow Leopard1 November 2004
The good and sometimes excellent musical numbers make this an enjoyable movie despite several overall weaknesses. Gene Kelly and Judy Garland both get many good opportunities to use their talents, and most of the musical sequences show both heart and imagination. The rest of the movie, though, presents the appearance of having been contrived to set up the variety numbers, and it is not as good. The story is good-natured, but rather shallow, and it is not quite interesting enough to distract attention from its less logical aspects.

Of course, with Garland and Kelly around, you can count on some good moments. The best sequences are probably Kelly's famous routine with the newspaper, and Garland's "Get Happy", two numbers that almost everyone enjoys and remembers. Kelly's routine with the newspaper is one of his most creative, and it is an entertaining way to highlight his talent. "Get Happy" has music and words to match the title, and Garland gives it her all.

The song also fits in very nicely with the intended theme of the movie.

There are a few worthwhile moments in the rest of it. Phil Silvers plays a sometimes amusing, sometimes annoying character. The relationships that Garland's character has with her boyfriend and with her sister start out with some potential, but they end up being only mildly interesting. The other parts of the story are innocuous, but not especially interesting.

Overall, the high quality of the singing and dancing sequences make "Summer Stock" worth seeing. For anyone who enjoys the classic musicals, the strong points should compensate for the rather commonplace nature of much of the rest of the movie.
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Long Live Gene!
sharkey19726 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I showed this film to my critical viewing class because I figured if they didn't know who Judy Garland and Gene Kelly were, they didn't really understand Hollywood musicals. I was gratified to find that so many of them liked it. I warned them it was corny and implausible right at the onset, but most of them actually liked the corniness. Class was divided on Garland--some didn't like her singing and others--uncharitably, I thought--commented on her heftiness for most of the film, but they were unanimous in their admiration for Gene Kelly. They thought he was coolness personified and to my surprise actually thought his dance with the newspaper was excellent. With kids nowadays, used to quick cutting and high action, I thought it would seem tame, but they thought it was clever. And Phil Silvers was a big hit. One students commented on how versatile those "old actors" were, compared to today--they seemed to be able to do it all. And for some reason I couldn't understand, they howled with laughter at the end when Abigail and Orville got together, causing one student to turn around and say to me "this film was awesome!" What a treat it was to introduce them to such icons of cinema and know that they could appreciate it.
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funkyfry2 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This picture suffers mostly by comparison to the stars' other films, from their great star turns in films like "Wizard of Oz" and "Singing in the Rain" to their more unconventional duo film "The Pirate." But expecting each MGM musical to hold up to the standards reached at their peak is a formula for disappointment. While it's true that this is the only Judy/Gene film that really has no more substance than a typical Judy/Mickey film would have, it does present the two classic performers in some charming and entertaining vignettes like Gene Kelly's solo dance on a newspaper and Judy's classic "Get Happy" jubilee stomp.

The plot is beyond thin -- basically it's the return of the prototypical "let's put on a show in the barn" musical. And basically we're supposed to accept that Judy Garland is a farmer. The music provided, mostly by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon, is mostly enjoyable but not really memorable. The events in the film flow with an almost savage or sadistic determinism -- the instant you see that Garland has bought a brand new tractor and bumbling Phil Silvers comes within 10 feet of it you know there will be a disaster. It robs the supposedly humorous "accident" of any real zest or charm.

This is an uninspired and uninspiring film but should please all of those who are fans of the amazing performers at the head of the cast. I feel that even with its trite plot, it could have been a much better film if the characters had been invested with some real feeling and complexity on any kind of level.
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Kelly's best and worst number in one and the same film
Mrswing5 January 2007
Summer Stock is a lightweight yet enjoyable romp, full of songs and dance numbers, though the best new song (Fall In Love, which can be heard as an audio outtake on the DVD) was cut from the picture (perhaps because it features Phil Silvers and Gloria DeHaven instead of Kelly and Garland?).

Kelly and Garland work very well together, as usual, and the barnyard dance is probably her best ever dance performance. But she's equally good in the lovely You, Wonderful You-number, which presages You Were Meant For Me on a much smaller scale.

Kelly is in great shape in the barnyard dance, Dig for your dinner (reminiscent of Tomorrow from Cover Girl and The Hat My Dear Old Father Wore Upon St Patrick's Day in Take Me Out To The Ball Game). But the best number is without a doubt his solo to You, Wonderful You with the newspaper and squeaky board. To me it's Kelly's most Astaire-like performance (especially conceptually - the steps and style are all Kelly).

Unfortunately, the big show is fairly weak (excepting Get Happy, small wonder they added it), and Kelly and Silver's redneck number Heavenly Music is a disgrace. Unfunny, bad song and bad choreography/concept. I can't recall Kelly having done anything more disappointing.

So skip that one every time you pop in the DVD and enjoy the rest of Judy Garland's swan song for MGM, and Kelly's last 'normal' musical (before all his pictures became events).
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Forget your troubles, come on get happy!
jotix10011 June 2005
"Summer Stock" is not up to par with other MGM musicals, yet, this take on a group of thespians invading a farm to do summer theater will delight anyone looking for a movie that doesn't demand much from its viewers, yet it delivers some unexpected pleasures. As directed by Charles Walters, "Summer Stock" is a rarity, in that it still has a fresh look about how summer theater started. The music, especially Harold Arlen's songs, are tuneful and stay with the viewer.

This was another pairing of Judy Garland and Gene Kelly, two of the most admired musical performers at the golden era of MGM. Both performers do well together as they project an ease and charm that filters down to the rest of the movie. Judy Garland is perfect as the girl trying to make ends meet working at the family farm. Gene Kelly is the city slicker who comes unannounced to take over everything to try out his musical play.

There are some familiar faces in supporting roles. Eddie Bracken, Phil Silvers, Marjorie Main, Ray Collins, Hans Conreid, and the beautiful Gloria DeHaven.

By the magic of the movies we are shown how the rustic barn is transformed into a place that no one would have been able to predict could be made into a stage where the musical takes place. Stay tuned and get happy with this summer film that is as refreshing as an ice cream cone on a hot day.
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Where yesterdreams come true
jjnxn-110 June 2013
Judy's last MGM film is bright, colorful and cheery but excepting two numbers a minor musical in her canon.

Judy is wonderfully alive and sprightly, amazing in itself since the production of this was famously fraught with delays due to her fragile physical and emotional state during shooting. She's in glorious voice but her weight fluctuates noticeably from scene to scene, most jarringly in the finale where she walks off stage plump and reemerges whippet thin within the same show. There are other instances as well, the "Howdy Neigbor" number which should have taken 3 days to shoot and ended up taking 3 weeks, only completed by splicing together different successful takes, is the most obvious. Whole backgrounds change abruptly behind her while she's singing!

The first of the two numbers that raise the film above the norm is the justly famous "Get Happy". An icon making moment that was filmed two weeks after the film had wrapped during which Judy had lost 20 pounds creating one of those sequences that were it not so galvanizing in and of itself would take you right out of the film. It is a bit jarring anyway since the quality of the material is so high above the rest of the film and in particular the awful number that precedes it, a barnyard travesty with Phil Silvers and Gene Kelly that is probably the worst thing he's ever done.

The second number stands out in several ways. It's the hauntingly beautiful "Friendly Star" which Judy sings with tender delicacy, it's the scene in the film where she looks her best and it's appended by the movie's best straight passage, a tentative love scene between Judy and Gene.

The rest of the film doesn't match these two high points but there are several pleasant scenes. Gene dances with newspapers, the lead pair tear it up during a barn dance that shows what an accomplished dancer Judy was, she effortlessly keeps up with Kelly. The film is loaded with high quality MGM stock players with Marjorie Main adding her customary basso spice to the proceedings.

Metro had originally planned to reunite Judy with Mickey Rooney but changed their mind, a wise decision on their part since the two had grown apart in their performance styles. Just watch them in their last teaming in "Words and Music" two years prior to this, Judy has matured into an accomplished adult song interpreter while Mickey is still trying to get away with the same old tricks from a decade before and making a fool of himself. Fortunately Gene Kelly stepped into the role because of Judy and the kindness she had shown him in his first film "For Me & My Gal", they are a much better match. While his part isn't completely secondary it's Judy that stands out and she's the reason to see this. A shame to realize that after this she would only make five more films in the following 19 years and only two of those were musicals, a great loss to cinema.
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one number (and it's not "Get Happy"!) worth the whole film...
macheath-ny3 July 2010
I'll be surprised if this gets read very often, coming as far down the line as it does. Enough others have praised this film, and given sufficient summaries of its gossamer plot, that I am gratefully relieved of the duty.

My only comment is that, if you are interested at all in cinema choreography, you watch at least through the "Portland Fancy" number. You don't have to sit through to "Get Happy"; watch whichever "That's Entertainment" anthology that features it. But if you ever want to understand what drives movie dancing, and why Kelly and Garland are equated by many with Astaire and Rogers, "Portland Fancy" should provide your education. a traditional square/contradance that segues into a jitterbug session and then to a challenge tap between the two stars, it is in this viewer's opinion one of the finest dance moments in any movie. To enjoy dance but ignore this moment does the soul a disservice.
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Judy's Final MGM film....
Isaac585517 January 2007
SUMMER STOCK was the final musical that Judy Garland appeared in while under contract to MGM. Judy plays Jane Falbury, a woman single-handedly struggling to run a farm and keep a milquetoast of a fiancée (Eddie Bracken) at arm's length. One day, Jane's sister, Abigail (Gloria DeHaven) arrives at the farm and informs Jane that she has invited the cast of a show she's appearing in to rehearse at the farm. Jane reluctantly agrees to let the cast rehearse at the farm if they agree to help with chores around the farm. Then Jane falls for Joe (Gene Kelly) the director and star of the show and Abigail's boyfriend. This is the paper-thin plot from which this delightful musical springs and Garland, despite the hell that was her personal life at the time, never lets it show on screen. The most famous musical number in the film is "Get Happy" which features Judy in a sexy cut-off tuxedo surrounded by muscular chorus boys. If the number looks out of place with the rest of the film, there's good reason. After the film was completed, MGM bigwigs decided the movie needed a stronger finale. Judy was called back to the studio six months after the rest of the movie had been completed and they shot "Get Happy" and inserted the number near the end of the film. During that six month interim, Judy had lost twenty pounds and does look noticeably thinner in "Get Happy" than she does in the rest of the film. This was Judy's third and final film with Kelly, who also makes a strong impression with a solo dance he does on an empty stage that involves a squeaky floorboard and a newspaper, and two great duets with co-star Phil Silvers: "Dig dig dig for your Dinner" and "Heavenly Music." Attention should also be paid to a lovely solo Judy has called "Friendly Star". An MGM classic that definitely marked the end of an era.
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Mostly Disappointing
smitty00812 September 2019
My general feeling on the relatively high rating of this movie is that its getting a little bit of a break due to Judy Garland's well known drug problems at the time of shooting. The story is weak, the acting is weak, the editing is weak, and the musical numbers, while pretty good, do nothing to add to the story. It's not funny enough to be a comedy, and not serious enough to be a drama.

River Phoenix did some of his best work strung out on heroin, Dock Ellis once threw a no hitter for the Pirates while tripping on acid; drugs in and of themselves are no excuse - there have been many great performances rendered under the influence. This just wasn't one of them. Shooting the movie took some time because of Garland's dependence. She'd clean up for a while and put on weight, then start using again and trim down as a side effect. These transitions are evident while watching the picture, but her performance was consistently shaky regardless of where she was in her addiction cycle.

That being said, the dancing by both Garland and Gene Kelly is out of this world. I would think that dancing would be one of the first of Garland's skills to deteriorate, but she was wonderful in those numbers. And Kelly's tap dancing is truly a lost art. It wasn't enough to save the flick, but worth watching because of it.
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Get Happy!
HotToastyRag27 June 2018
Summer Stock has one of my favorite Judy Garland songs in it, one that became a staple on her television show and during her concerts: "Get Happy". I never get tired of watching this number. Judy, clad in a black extra-long, low-cut blazer, black pumps, and a black fedora over one eye, captivates the men in the chorus, and the audience, as she sings and dances to the jazzy tune. It's pretty much impossible not to follow her instructions.

The rest of the movie isn't that great. She reunites with Gene Kelly, and while they're both experts at hamming it up for the camera in a silly musical comedy, they don't really save the tired "Let's put on a show!" plot. Gene starts the film engaged to Judy's sister, Gloria DeHaven, but when they decide to put on a show, he and Judy spend a lot of time together and fall in love. There are a few songs interspersed in the movie, both as parts of the show and parts of the regular plot, but the best and most memorable one is "Get Happy". If you love both leads, you can rent this one, but if you'd rather watch them in good movies, you can rent Meet Me in St. Louis and Anchors Aweigh.
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