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Everybody Sing

Ring a Ding Ding

Everybody Sing (1938)

I think I am pretty safe in saying if often takes actors that will become big stars a few years before they start appearing in highly entertaining productions. Judy Garland, who was recognized pretty quickly by MGM executive Louis B. Mayer as a goldmine, surprised me with Everybody Sing, which is a musical that not only contains a really entertaining cast and script but fantastic musical numbers as well.

By the time this film was released in 1938, Garland had three others under her belt, although those include Broadway Melody of 1938 (released in 1937), which featured Judy in a very small role, and Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry, which I have previously reviewed as a mediocre spot for the youth. Everybody Sing was a great step forward as it offered the leading role to the teenager and would be followed in the same year by Garland’s first Andy Hardy movie and then another sour production in Listen, Darling.

What is most resounding about Everybody Sing is surely the cast. Garland as Judy Bellaire is mothered by Billie Burke who would become Glinda in Wizard of Oz, fathered by Reginald Owen, lives with maid Olga, played by Fanny Brice, and is friends with Allan Jones‘ Ricky Saboni. Judy is expelled from her girl’s school after being caught jazzing up some tunes in her vocal class, but when she returns home the girl is unable to get a word in edgewise to inform her self-centered family of the trouble. The father is a play writer, the mother is an actress who gets her current production’s lines mixed in with her personal dialogue, and her sister is absorbed in singing lessons and secret boyfriend/house cook Ricky. Only Olga and Ricky will hear of her trouble.

When Judy discovers that Ricky makes his real living singing at a restaurant, she immediately gets herself on stage and is adored by the audience. The family, however, is rather set on sending Judy to Europe to straighten her out and keep her away from the performing profession in which the rest of the family engages. Judy conspires with a voyage-mate, however, to have pre-written postcards mailed at each destination on the trip while she ducks off the boat and proceeds to live a secret life performing at the restaurant. A regrettable blackface performance ensues as part of this process.

In the midst of all this, Ricky struggles to maintain a romantic relationship with Judy’s sister, Sylvia (Lynn Carver), who has falsely gotten herself engaged to her mother’s stage partner Jerrold (Reginald Gardiner) to split up whatever romantic entanglement might be occurring there. Ultimately, all is resolved and the film closes on a major musical revue backed by Ricky himself and staring Judy and even the maid, Olga.

The Bellaire family reminded me very much of the Bullocks of My Man Godfrey except this bunch is theatrically inclined as a profession, not as a mere part of their insanity. The poor servants struggle to do their duties while dealing with their masters’ eccentricities. For instance, Olga desperately seeks to discover how many individuals will be staying for dinner because she has only four squab she must divide among what turn out to be seven eaters. Ultimately, the family gets spaghetti.

I had never seen Brice in a film before, although I recently watched Funny Girl starring Barbra Streisand, which is about Brice’s career and marriage, although a largely fictionalized account. The resemblance between Brice’s actual acting and the performance of Streisand is pretty strikingly similar. Although I found Brice to be quite comical and much like a female Chico Marx –although with a Russian rather than Italian accent in this case– she could get to be a bit obnoxious after a while. Still, I’m glad to have finally seen the comedienne first hand.

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Feature: Classic Movie Gossip – Remakes

So I’m not terribly up on what movies are being considered for production in Hollywood these days, but I have caught wind of a couple remakes of classic movies on the forefront.

I just learned from a post by Angela at The Hollywood Revue that Johnny Depp is for certain set to play Nick Charles in a redo of The Thin Man. You’ll know from reading my post on that/those films that I love them and the fabulous performances by William Powell and Myna Loy, one of the greatest movie teams in cinema history. It sounds like only Depp has been cast so far and that the movie will be based on the book by Dashiell Hammett. Although I think Depp lacks the ability to play sophistication with the same ease as Powell, I am even more concerned with the role of Nora Charles. Loy plays such an off-beat woman. Although she is constantly pleading her husband to stay away from the detective work of his past, she is a tough broad who might be even funnier than Powell. In one scene in the first flick in the series, Powell socks her in the jaw to prevent her from being shot. She wakes up to complain she wanted to see her hubby take out the hoodlum.

I also heard a couple months ago about a proposed remake of A Star is Born starring … wait for it … Beyoncé! It would be directed by Clint Eastwood, which is even weirder. Now I concede that the Judy Garland version is itself a remake of an earlier Janet Gaynor version (and there was a 1976 version starring Barbra Streisand that I’ve heard no one mention), but the later movie far outshines the first and is a landmark in Garland’s career as it was a comeback after so many troubling times. The greatest problem I have with this proposal is obviously Beyoncé. I think we all remember how she was outshined by newcomer Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls. The chick is not exactly a great actress or starring role material, and she cannot expect to sing her way through that entire film.

I’m not certain I have ever knowingly seen a remake of a favorite classic film. I liked the recent 3:10 to Yuma but have no interest in the original even though I have heard it is better. Westerns, you know. Not my fave. I have watched original versions upon discovering their existence, but I have not hit the theater for a redo on purpose.

On a similar note, Martin Scorsese has a Frank Sinatra biopic scheduled for 2013 that has me concerned. I’m a big Sinatra fan, so I am pretty convinced I will not be satisfied with anyone in that role. I have also read at least five books on the guy, so I’m going to spot anything inaccurate. I think I’ve heard Leonardo DiCaprio’s name floated around for this part, which I think is all wrong.

From what I have read from other classic film bloggers, the feeling seems to be mutual when it comes to remakes of the classics we hold dear. My theory is one should only remake old films that were either obscure or did poorly but still had a good basis for a hit if it was done properly. If anyone can put a positive spin on the concept, I’d be glad to hear it.

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