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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

PRESENTING LILY MARS (1943)

Only wisps of small-town atmosphere & adolescent charm remain in this coarsened & musicalized version of Booth Tarkinton ’s story. (His basic idea must have been a NINETEEN to follow up on his classic SEVENTEEN, but this time from a female POV.) Judy Garland looks particularly lovely as the stagestruck gal who grabs the coattails B’way producer Van Heflin, a local boy made good. Garland comes off more like a stalker than a striver, but then, there’s no consistent tone under Norman Taurog ’s megging, anyway. Glamorous operetta star Martha Eggerth bedeviled Judy the year before in FOR ME AND MY GAL, and it's only worse this time around. The absurd notion of Garland replacing her as a coloratura Russian Countess in a big operetta throws the entire last act out of whack, forcing producer Joe Pasternak to tack on a huge extraneous finale to tip the balance back to Judy. No dice.

NOTE: For more Eggerth, check out her LA BOHEME inspired ZAUBER DER BOHEME/’36 (see below).

CONTEST: Be the first to name the great film director who was a most unlikely lead in a radio adaptation of SEVENTEEN to win our usual prize, a MAKSQUIBS Write-Up of a NetFlix DVD of your choice.

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