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Tuesday, March 12, 2013


This early feature for a pre-WIZARD OF OZ Judy Garland isn’t much seen these days, and for reasons that become all too apparent about halfway in when Judy goes incognito in BlackFace. (With a ‘Topsy’ fright-wig out of UNCLE TOM’S CABIN to top it off.) Worse, you can’t really snip it out since she goes right in to her big dramatic moment still ‘blacked up.’ Fortunately, the film represents a minor loss, a half-baked Upstairs/Downstairs Screwball Comedy about a theatrical family whose new play is going into crisis just as the cook, maid & runaway daughter are working up a musical revue. After much sound & fury, and little to show for it, the play shutters just as the song & dance show opens in triumph. Tiresome stuff. At least there’s a rich, glossy look from lenser Joseph Ruttenberg for the cast and all those production values. Plus, bonus points for helping us sort out Reginalds Owen & Gardiner who make a rare joint appearance. (If Reginald Denny had also been on screen, it would have made a trifecta!) The main reason to watch is to see Fanny Brice, the original Funny Girl, in a rare leading role as the housekeeper. She doesn’t quite work on film, certainly not under a mechanical director like Edwin Marin, but her technique & pacing are so fascinating, it hardly matters.

CONTEST: Tenor Allan Jones, who gets first-billing here, was fresh off his biggest hit (THE FIREFLY), but opens his act with an encore from an earlier pic. Name the catchy tune & the film it’s from to win a MAKSQUIBS Write-Up of a NetFlix DVD of your choice.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: As a teen, though no glamorpuss, Garland was cute as a button. Yet, the script goes out of its way to have Billie Burke, playing her actress-mom, call her ‘an ugly duckling,’ and to note that ‘even Judy looks pretty today.’ Later, dressed as Little Lord Fauntleroy for a scene with Brice’s Baby Snooks, Judy gets to yell that ‘I'm a boy, a Boy, a BOY!!’ No wonder that girl got so screwed up.

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