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What to Watch Thanksgiving: Musicals

Musicals tend to be very family friendly fare, which is possibly why Turner Classic Movies has sprinkled several throughout the day and night Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. At the top of my list is Judy Garland‘s great Meet Me in St. Louis.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

I feel like the plot of this story of a large St. Louis family in 1903 does not matter much in the grand scheme of things. The narrative is marked by the romances of Garland’s Ester with the neighbor boy and sister Rose (Lucille Bremer) hopes her long-distance boyfriend will get around to proposing. The family as a whole also struggles with the idea of moving to New York as a year goes by.

The songs in Meet Me in St. Louis are among the reasons to watch the flick. Many famous numbers we still remember today are just as enjoyable out of the context of the film as they are in. Among them is the title song, the Oscar-nominated “Trolley Song” that was filmed in one take and Garland singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

This picture marks the first encounter of Garland and Director Vincent Minnelli. The two feuded on set until Garland viewed the daily rushes and discovered how beautiful Minnelli was making her look. The young star had all kinds of confidence issues about her appearance, some of which stem from Louis B. Mayer’s pet names of “ugly duckling” and “my little hunchback.” The woman had also been reluctant to take the part that returned her persona to that of a teenager because she had finally found success in adult roles, such as For Me and My Gal. The new-found chemistry between the star and director led to a marriage in 1945 and four subsequent films. Despite being gay, Minnelli would father Liza with Judy before the two divorced in 1951.

Meet Me in St. Louis is a great way to see Judy in one of her best roles and to sing along with the family to the memorable songs.

Musicals scheduled on TCM for Turkey Day include:

  • Meet Me in St. Louis at 10 a.m. ET.
  • The Music Man at 1:45 p.m.
  • Anything Goes at 8 p.m.
  • Shall We Dance at 3 a.m.
  • Flying with Music at 5 a.m.

Source: Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland by Gerald Clark

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Feature: ‘Glee’ makes ’em laugh (or tries)

Last night’s episode of “Glee” featured a dream sequence in which glee club teacher Will Scheuster imagines he is living the “Make Them Laugh” number from Singin’ in the Rain. He takes on the Donald O’Connor character and is accompanied by one of the student dancers for an attempted step-by-step re-enactment of one of the most memorable songs from one of the most influential musicals of all time.

I am a regular “Glee” viewer but am a fan with reservations, and Tuesday’s episode only underscores this. I understand the desire to pay tribute to this famous movie routine, but I enjoy the movie version far better. Matthew Morrison has a fabulous, broadway-style voice that is much prettier than O’Connor’s, yet I’m still siding with the film. O’Connor’s voice has far more character and he was much better with the physical comedy of the scene than Morrison is. Also I was confused which character he was playing at first as I was trying to remember the movie. It seemed strange to me to have one of the least noticeable student characters occupy the Gene Kelly role, a character who dominates the film.

I do not aim to be overly critical of the show, and might be prompting hate mail from all the “gleeks”, but am instead offering that for those tweens who just loved that song last night, they better rent the source material.

Compare for yourself:

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