Friday, March 20, 2015

Summer Stock (1950)

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“We're trying to tell a story with music, and song, and dance. Well, not just with words. For instance, if the boy tells the girl that he loves her, he just doesn't say it, he sings it.”
“Why doesn't he just say it?”
“Why? Oh, I don't know, but it's kind of nice.”

            I think that quote perfectly sums ups all musicals ever made. Even had that thought though if you watch musicals why doesn’t the boy just tell the girl he likes her instead of singing it? I will agree that the singing is nice but then I think if musicals were in the real world and some guy broke out into song for me I would probably get really embarrassed and slap him the damn face. I am so romantic aren’t I?
            Anyway, Summer Stock is about Jane Falbury (Judy Garland) and the time her freewheeling sister brought the theater troupe she was with to the family farm.
            Jane has taken care of the family farm for several years. It has fallen on some hard times but she is still optimistic the farm can make money. Unfortunately, two of the old family farm hands do not share Jane’s optimism and they leave to go somewhere to get paid. Jane believes if she had a tractor she can take care of the farm herself. She goes into town to the local store and nervously orders a tractor. She gives her order to Orville (Eddie Bracken) who happens to be her fiancé of four years. Orville is a nervous guy with all kinds of issues. He is deathly afraid to tell his father. The father freaks out a bit and then comes up with the idea that the tractor can be a wedding present for her. Jane does not in any way take the tractor as a gift she tells the father she will work hard and pay the tractor off.
            When Jane returns home there are hundreds of people walking all over the farm. She has no idea where they have all come from. A guy named Joe Ross (Gene Kelly) bumps into her. Joe informs Jane that is a friend of her sister Abigail and that they are going to put on a show in the barn. Abby failed to make any mention of her plans to Jane so she is not too happy. She wants them all gone by the morning. The whole troupe is upset especially Abby. When Jane sees how upset she changes her mind and lets them all stay but on the condition that they all wake up early and help around the farm.
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            The following day Orville comes to the farm to tell Jane that his father wants to see her because there is a rumor that there are actors staying on the farm and they want to put on a show. Jane goes with Orville and the father explains that her own people passed a rule that no shows can come through the town because they are a peaceful farming community. On the other hand though there is a dance held at the barn every year for quite a few decades. The father shoots back that the dance has been supported by the town’s historical society. The dance that night is dull. It accidentally picks up when Joe tries to find Jane to tell her about her busted tractor before a group of boys tells her. The rest of the troupe think Joe has joined the dance even though they are not supposed to. They follow their leader and take over the dance. Needless to say the old farts are not happy about the actors taking over and Jane doing a dance with Joe.
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            Of course Jane finds out about the tractor. The next morning she has it out with Abby that everyone has to go and she has to stay home and be a help on the farm. Jane goes outside to start the day and sees the actors have bought her a brand new tractor. Joe sold his car to get the tractor. Again she has a change of heart and everyone can stay. Not long after Orville and his father come by. Jane is in a bit of a stupor and she agrees to marry Orville as soon as the actors leave the farm. She really loves Joe but does not want to admit it to herself.
            At rehearsals Abby is not doing too well. Joe yells at her to get her to focus. Jane hears this and tells Joe to take it easy with her sister she is trying to do her best. Outside the show’s backer, Keath tells Abby he may have something for her in New York City. They up and leave for the city that night. To make up for her sister leaving Jane takes Abby’s place in the show. Orville comes by and is not too happy to see his fiancé has become an actor. He yells at her to get off the stage and come with him. Well Jane yells right back and gives Orville a piece of her mind. Orville goes back to his father who then yells at and belittles him and Orville yells back that he will put a stop to Jane doing the show. He drives all the way out to the city and picks Abby up so she can come back to her part.
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            Jane has a great time performing in the show. She does a few numbers with Joe and one great performance by herself. Orville comes back with Abby. Jane freaks out and yells at both of them and then turns around and kisses Joe.
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            Happy musical ending all around.

            Summer Stock is not a bad musical but it is not one of the best. Judy Garland and Gene Kelly made a wonderful screen pair. All their dance numbers together were perfect. You can see they were friends off screen they carried that chemistry on screen. One of my all time favorite musicals numbers comes from Summer Stock: “Get Happy”. I love this number so much. I love Judy Garland singing it and I LOVE her outfit. She was fantastic, totally killed the song and dance. (If you would like to hear a great rendition of this song, look for Zoe Birkett’s version from the Pop Idol Big Band album. It’s the reason I love the song so much). Although Summer Stock is alright it is still worth watching especially for “Get Happy” and Judy Garland and Gene Kelly’s pairing.