Musical Monday: Pigskin Parade (1936)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

pigskin paradeThis week’s musical:
Pigskin Parade (1936) – Musical #179

Studio:
20th Century Fox

Director:
David Butler

Starring:
Stuart Erwin, Jack Haley, Patsy Kelly, Johnny Downs, Arline Judge, Betty Grable, Dixie Dunbar, Judy Garland, Tony Martin (billed as Anthony Martin), Grady Sutton, Julius Tannen, Fred Kohler, Jr.
Themselves: The Yacht Club Boys

Plot:
Texas State University is accidentally picked as the team to play against Yale in a big football game. When new coach Slug Winters (Haley) and his wife Bessie (Kelly) realize the football team is hopeless, they look for an answer. That comes in the form of hillbilly Amos Dodd (Erwin), who has never played football but can kick and throw like a dream. The only issue is getting Amos and his sister Sairy (Garland) enrolled in the college.

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Musical Monday: Presenting Lily Mars (1943)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

presenting lily mars5This week’s musical:
Presenting Lily Mars (1943) – Musical #182

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Norman Taurog

Starring:
Judy Garland, Van Heflin, Fay Bainter, Richard Carlson, Spring Byington, Mártha Eggerth, Ray MacDonald, Connie Gilchrist, Patricia Barker, Janet Chapman, Annie Ross (Annabelle Logan), Douglas Croft, Marilyn Maxwell (uncredited), William Tannen (uncredited)
Themselves: Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra, Bob Crosby and his Orchestra

Plot:
Lily Mars (Garland) is eager to become an actress. Major Broadway producer John Thornway (Heflin) is from Lily’s Indiana hometown, and while visiting his mother (Bainter), Lily tries to make an impression. John finds Lily to be a nuisance, but despite his deterrence, Lily goes to New York City to try to break into acting.

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Mickey Rooney’s Halloween Party

Halloween Party Micky Judy and Ann

Mickey Rooney is having a Halloween party and of course all of his friends pitch in to bring snacks for the party. For the occasion his frequent co-stars Ann Rutherford and Judy Garland help Mickey’s mother make a cake. Or that’s what Modern Screen Nov. 1941 says.

“Ann and Judy are helping Mickey’s mother with the party,” the magazine article by Helen Holmes said. “Mickey wants to doughnuts and fresh country cider, his mother thinks that sandwiches and coffee would be nice, and hte girls want to try the Hallowe’en cake for which we are giving the recipe.”

The cake in question is a three layer chocolate cake with orange-flavored icing decorated with chocolate cream candies painted with icing as ghosts. (The recipe will be provided below).

Last Halloween, I had a such a good time making Jackie Cooper’s Halloween party treats that I decided to try another one of these film fan magazine recipes geared for a holiday event.

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Musical Monday: In the Good Old Summertime (1949)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
“Meet Me After the Show” – Musical #25

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Robert Z. Leonard

Starring:
Judy Garland, Van Johnson, S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall, Buster Keaton, Spring Byington, Clinton Sundberg, Marcia Van Dyke, Lillian Bronson, Liza Minnelli, Joi Lansing (uncredited), Chester Clute (uncredited), Anna Q. Nilsson (uncredited), Charles Smith (uncredited)

Plot:
A musical remake of the 1940 film “Shop Around the Corner,” “In the Good Ole Summertime” takes place in the early 1900s in Chicago. Veronica Fisher (Garland) is corresponding through letters with an unknown man.

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Musical Monday: Girl Crazy (1943)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Girl Crazy (1943) – Musical #165

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Norman Taurog, Busby Berkeley

Starring:
Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Gil Stratton, Robert E. Strickland, Rags Ragland, June Allyson, Nancy Walker, Guy Kibbee, Frances Rafferty, Henry O’Neill, Howard Freeman, Karin Booth (uncredited), Georgia Carroll (uncredited), Jimmy Butler (uncredited), Peter Lawford (uncredited), Charles Walters (uncredited)
Themselves: Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra, Six Hits and a Miss, The Music Maids, The King’s Men, The Stafford Sisters (Jo Stafford, Christine Stafford, Pauline Stafford)

Plot:
Wealthy collegiate playboy Danny Churchill Jr. (Rooney) often frequents the headlines for his philanderings. Tired of reading about his son in print (and not for academics), his father (O’Neill) pulls Danny out of Yale and sends him to the desert of Arizona to all-male Cody College of Mines and Agriculture. While Danny adjusts to a more active lifestyle, he meets postmistress Ginger Gray (Garland) and granddaughter of the man who runs the college, and falls for her. However, when the college is failing enrollment, Danny hatches a plan to get more students.

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Musical Monday: Summer Stock (1950)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Summer Stock (1950) – Musical #9

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director: Charles Walters

Starring:
Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Gloria DeHaven, Phil Silvers, Marjorie Main, Carleton Carpenter, Eddie Bracken, Ray Collins, Hans Conreid, Nita Bieber, Carol Haney (uncredited), Johnny Duncan (uncredited), Michael Chapin (uncredited), Bunny Waters (uncredited), Almira Sessions (uncredited

Plot:
Jane Falbury (Garland) runs her family farm. Her peaceful daily life is disrupted when her sister Abigail (DeHaven) returns home to the farm accompanied by an acting troupe. Abigail and the group’s director Joe Ross (Kelly) are in love, and the show has to be a hit for the two to be married. Jane agrees that the actors can stay at the farm and rehearse if they Jane’s fiancé Orville (Bracken) disapproves of showbusiness and wants the actors to leave. Jane also finds that she is falling in love with Joe.

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Musical Monday: A Star is Born (1954)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
A Star Is Born (1954) – Musical #342

Studio:
Warner Bros.

Director:
George Cukor

Starring:
Judy Garland, James Mason, Jack Carson, Charles Bickford, Tommy Noonan, Lucy Marlow, Hazel Shermet, Amanda Blake, Irving Bacon, James Brown, Nancy Kulp (uncredited), Barbara Pepper (uncredited), Dick Simmons (uncredited), Grady Sutton (uncredited)

Plot:
Singer Esther Blodgett (Garland) is spotted by film star Norman Maine (Mason). Though Norman is one of Hollywood’s top stars, his career is on the decline due to his alcoholism. Norman helps Esther into the picture business and Esther becomes successful film star Vicki Lester. The two fall in love and marry, but will their marriage enough for Norman?

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Musical Monday: Strike Up the Band (1940)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Strike Up the Band (1940) – Musical #301

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Busby Berkeley

Starring:
Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, June Preisser, William Tracy, Larry Nunn, Margaret Early, Ann Shoemaker, Virginia Brissac, Sidney Miller, Harry McCrillis (uncredited)
Themselves: Paul Whiteman and Orchestra

Plot:
Bored with his school’s dance band, Jimmy Connors (Rooney) tries to organize a dance orchestra with his friend Mary Holden (Garland) as his singer.

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Musical Monday: Ziegfeld Girl (1941)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

ziegfeld2This week’s musical:
Ziegfeld Girl” (1941) Musical #126

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Robert Z. Leonard, Busby Berkeley

Starring:
Lana Turner, Judy Garland, Hedy Lamarr, James Stewart, Jackie Cooper, Charles Winninger, Tony Martin, Ian Hunter, Eve Arden, Philip Dorn, Al Shean, Edward Everett Horton, Dan Daily, Fay Holden, Felix Bressart, Rose Hobart, Leslie Brooks (uncredited), Georgia Carroll (uncredited), Joyce Compton (uncredited), Patricia Dane (uncredited), Myrna Dell (uncredited), Jean Wallace (uncredited)

Plot:
Three girls are selected to be in the latest Broadway production of Florenz Ziegfeld:
• Sheila (Turner), a Brooklyn native who is discovered while working on an elevator in a department store
• Susie (Garland), a performer in an act on vaudeville with her father. The only problem is Mr. Ziegfeld only wants Susie and not her dad (Winninger)
• Sandra (Lamarr), who is discovered while she is with her violinist husband (Dorn), who is auditioning for the orchestra.
The film follows the girls as they rise to fame and the trials they face on their way up: alcohol, wooing men who try to take them away from husbands and boyfriends and getting accustomed to more money. They all learn that fame has a great price.

Trivia:
-Florenz Ziegfeld was a famous Broadway producer who died in 1932. He was known for his lavish sets and elaborate costumes that “glorified the American girl.” Ziegfeld is a God-like figure in this film: he is discussed but never seen.

-“Ziegfeld Girl” is one of three films MGM dedicated to Florenz Ziegfeld. This film is a follow up to “The Great Ziegfeld” (1936), a biopic of Ziegfeld starring William Powell as the impresario. “Ziegfeld Girl” is a sequel which shows the life of the Ziegfeld Girls. The third film was “Ziegfeld Follies” (1946), which just showed multiple Ziegfeld-like acts.

-Hedy Lamarr requested to be in this film as a change of pace from her other dramatic roles, according to historian John Fricke.

-Two of the actors in the film were in original Florenz Ziegfeld produced films: Charles Winneger, who was in the original stage production of Show Boat, and Al Shean, who was part of the act Gallagher and Shean. Winninger and Shean recreate one of the Gallagher and Shean numbers in the film.

ziegfeld5

Hedy Lamarr, Judy Garland and Lana Turner in costume for the “Minnie from Trinidad” number

-The production of this film was originally announced in 1938 and was to star Eleanor Powell, Joan Crawford, Margaret Sullivan and Virginia Bruce (who was in The Great Ziegfeld). It was several years before the script was developed and the film was recast with newer talent, according to film historian John Fricke.

-James Stewart’s last film before joining the military to fight in World War II. His next film was “It’s a Wonderful Life” in 1946.

-The finale of “Ziegfeld Girl” edits in multiple numbers from “The Great Ziegfeld.” Judy Garland’s character is dressed in a costume which recreates the “Pretty Girl” number from the 1936 film, on top of the large tower.

-Busby Berkely choreographed the numbers in the film.

-The original finale was going to be “We Must Have Music” with Judy Garland, but it was deleted.

-Judy Garland felt a little inferior to her co-stars. A frequent story she shared was: When Lana Turner came onset, the technicians would whistle. When Hedy would pass through, they would sigh. When Judy came on set they would tell her hello, according to “Beautiful: The Life of Hedy Lamarr” by Stephen Michael Shearer.

-“Ziegfeld Girl” was the game changer in Lana Turner’s career, and it led to more serious, dramatic and adult roles. The role was even expanded for Turner during filming.

-Lana Turner was originally supposed to die at the end of the film, according to TCM film historian Robert Osborne. Her death had negative reactions from preview audiences and is now cut to be left ambiguous.

-Model and later wife of Kay Kyser, Georgia Carroll, said in 2008 that Hedy Lamarr was shy and private during the filming. Hedy Lamarr and Judy Garland were friends and Lamarr and Lana Turner were cordial, according to “Beautiful: The life of Hedy Lamarr” by Stephen Michael Shearer.

Publicity still of the costumes from the "You've Stepped Out of a Dream" number

Publicity still of the costumes from the “You’ve Stepped Out of a Dream” number

Highlights:
-Elaborate costumes by Adrian
-Eve Arden’s sassy character

Notable Songs:
-“You Stepped Out of a Dream” performed by Tony Martin
-“Minnie from Trinidad” performed by Judy Garland
-“You Never Looked So Beautiful” performed by the chorus, borrowed by the 1936 film
-“I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” performed by Judy Garland
-“Laugh? I Thought I’d Split My Sides” performed by Judy Garland and Charles Winninger
-“Caribbean Love Song” performed by Tony Martin
-“Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Shean” performed by Charles Winninger and Al Shean

My review:
In the grand scheme of film history, “Ziegfeld Girl” (1941) may not be very important. It is notable because it gave Lana Turner’s career the boost it needed, landing her in more sophisticated and adult roles. But when it comes to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movie musicals, this one isn’t even listed in the top 10.

But I love it. “Ziegfeld Girl” may be overly long (with a run time of 2 hours and 12 minutes) and the plot may be rather fluffy, but I think it’s a great example of the lavish luxury that was a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film.

Publicity still of Lana Turner, Hedy Lamarr and Judy Garland

Publicity still of Lana Turner, Hedy Lamarr and Judy Garland

With the Adrian gowns and themes of fame and newly found wealth, “Ziegfeld Girl” oozes glamour, sophistication and the jewel-encrusted style many people dream about. For some reason, for me, this film holds the definition of MGM glamour more than other well-known MGM films like “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952), “The Women” (1939) or “Grand Hotel” (1932).

I think one major reason for this is the “You Stepped Out of a Dream” number where Tony Martin sings as women in elaborate (yet eccentric) costumes walk up and down stairs like goddesses.

After it’s release, Hedda Hopper said that the film is so beautiful that it “makes you ill that it’s not in color.” I can’t say I agree though. While Technicolor would have made “Ziegfeld Girl” even more glorious, I somehow think that black-and-white suits it and glitters more than color would. Color would have almost been too distracting.

The cast of this film is also bursting at the seams. Not only are the leading ladies three of MGM’s most well-known and top stars, the character actors seemingly just keep coming out of the woodwork through the film.

The only thing I don’t love about this film is the finale. Pasting together “Great Ziegfeld” (1936) feels off, though you could look at it as tying it back to the original film and making “Ziegfeld Girl” a true sequel. But that’s a bit of a stretch. It really comes off as lazy, and costume and dance styles had changed so much in five years that it doesn’t fit. However, the originally planned “We Must Have Music” finale is also weak (it’s included on the DVD special features). They would have been better off ending with “Minnie from Trinidad.”

I do also enjoy that two original Ziegfeld players- Charles Winninger and Al Shean- are included in the film.

I first saw “Ziegfeld Girl” in 2004 or 2005 and I fell in love with it and I still really love this movie. I loved it so much that “ziegfeldgirl1941” was part of my e-mail address at the time. I even tried to convince my mom to play “You Stepped Out of a Dream” when I walked downstairs to my prom date (she refused so this didn’t happen).

If the glamour of this film was a soap or a perfume, I would buy it and wear it. But since it’s not, I did the next best thing. I created Hedy Lamarr’s “Stepped out of a Dream” costume designed by Adrian for this Halloween. I bought the sleeveless white dress but made the rest of the costume- sewing on sleeves, cutting out and gluing silver stars and sequins, using 12 glue sticks to attach the wire with stars on a board on my back (Adrian also used a board on Hedy’s back.) If this 20-hour project doesn’t describe my love for “Ziegfeld Girl,” I’m not sure what does.

My version of Hedy Lamarr's "Dream" costume

My version of Hedy Lamarr’s “Dream” costume

If you love MGM glamour and musicals, I would give this one a watch. I’ll give you fair warning that it’s a bit dramatic in parts, like when Lana Turner’s luck starts to change, but it’s such a fabulous look at MGM in it’s prime.

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Musical Monday: Everybody Sing (1938)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

everybody singThis week’s musical:
Everybody Sing –Musical #540

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Edwin L. Marin

Starring:
Allan Jones, Judy Garland, Fanny Brice, Billie Burke, Lynne Carver, Reginald Owen, Reginald Gardiner, Monty Wooley

Plot:
Judy (Garland) is constantly getting in trouble and expelled from her private school. She’s expelled again when she starts singing swing in her music class. When she returns home, she finds her madcap family: her actress mother (Burke), playwright father (Gardner), mother’s protegee (Owen), Russian Maid (Brice), singing cook (Jones), and ambitious older sister (Carver). No one will listen to Judy when she tries to tell them she’s expelled, no one will listen to her and they are too wrapped up in their affairs to pay attention. When her parents try to send her abroad, she escapes and gets a starring role in a musical show.

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