Let’s make a few things clear. Technicolor does not necessarily make a film better, the songs were tedious, and Judy was a poor actress. But let’s give it some credit. The change of setting was a good idea. A music show makes sense given that it’s now a musical. It’s nice to see the older Buster Keaton get a paycheck. Van Johnson wasn’t a terrible substitute for Jimmy Stewart and Judy should have been an improvement on the forgettable Margaret Sullavan. So what went wrong?
It is an almost scene by scene remake of the original excluding the most dramatic parts! The tone was all wrong giving it a more comedic, almost slapstick quality. We are not charmed when the love interests are introduced. I was annoyed. We are left with the formula of add nothing except forgettable songs, subtract much of the charm and drama, and replace actors with poor substitutes. Cuddles Sakall might work in small roles but he was not up to the task of taking on Frank Morgan. And let’s face it. Ernst Lubitsch was the master.
In The Good Old Summertime is not remembered as one of Judy’s best, but fans will like it because that’s what they do. Given my druthers I would have watched Meet Me in St. Louis this season but a DVR issue sabotaged that idea. And after watching this and The Clock, I think I’m done with Judy for a while. If anything good came from this experience, it’s realizing how much I actually like The Shop Around the Corner. AMRU 2.