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Monday, June 22, 2009

A DATE WITH JUDY (1948)

Producer Joe Pasternak specialized in that most ungrateful of genres: the family musical, dear to the heart of M-G-M boss Louis B. Mayer. Sure, those Andy Hardy pics & MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS/’44 made piles of dough, but L.B. also believed in them, even after WWII when journeymen meggers like Richard Thorpe made them as suffocating & insufferable as this. Jane Powell (looking as smooth as a porcelain doll under Robert Surtees ’ creamy TechniColor lensing) stars as a typical high schooler (with a trained soprano voice, natch) who ignores peppy, but pimply Scotty Beckett for dreamy, but older Robert Stack. He, in turn, only has eyes for Liz Taylor, divine @ 16, the snooty rich girl in town. Leon Ames repeats his ST LOUIS gig as negligent Dad to Scotty & Liz, while top-liner Wallace Beery, looking ill in his penultimate role, is a most unlikely avuncular Dad to Powell. Happily, Carmen Miranda shows up to teach Beery the rhumba, and in her first number she even gets to swing just a bit before she redons her Brazilian bombshell straightjacket with smiley Xavier Cugat. Then, it's back to those wholesome kids. The big song from the film, 'It's A Most Unusual Day,' is charming, but it couldn't be more off the mark. This one's as usual as they come.

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