Saturday, July 14, 2012

Strike Up the Band.

Strike Up the Band was the second Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney musical, released in 1940. Mickey and Judy star as Jimmy and Mary, high school students who have formed a dance band from their school band. The famous bandleader Paul Whiteman is hosting a high school band contest, but Mickey figures it will cost them $200 to get the band to Chicago for the audition {I'm clearly trying to see how many times I can use the word "band" in one paragraph.} They put on a melodramatic act to earn the $200, but then have to decide how to spend the money when an accident happens to one of their friends.

I realized while rewatching this that the Judy and Mickey films might just be some of my favorite musicals (and you guys know how much I love musicals). They're not the best, but they're just so much fun. I don't know what being on the set of these films was really like, and maybe I'm being fooled (and they're just really good actors), but most of the time it looks like all of these young people are having a blast. A good example of that are the La Conga number and the Drummer Boy scene in Strike Up the Band. You can't help but smile when you're watching them. {Not to mention the gorgeous 40s party dresses the girls are wearing.}

Annie and Phil are the buddies of Jimmy and Mary, and I have to say they're more interesting than the secondary characters in the first film. By the way, Phil is played by the same guy who plays the slightly obnoxious Pepi in The Shop Around the Corner. Willie, a younger friend who has a crush on Mary, is cute at times but annoying at others. :) June Preisser is here again, playing a wealthy girl very similar to her part in the previous musical. And of course they found a way to fit in her acrobatics again. Twice.

The music in Strike Up the Band is great, too...very catchy. The song Our Love Affair is one of my favorites, even though it's accompanied by a creepy orchestra of fruit musicians towards the beginning of the film. Yes, I'm serious- fruit playing instruments. It's actually good animation for the time period and sort of mesmerising, but it is strange and random. I like the film's finale, which is a medley of all of the songs.

This film has plenty of comedic moments but also has some serious ones. The more dramatic moments generally come across as cheesy, I think. Jimmy's relationship with his mom (she wants him to be a doctor like his father instead of a musician) is a bit over-the-top.

Oh, and Judy's character works in a library! I thought that was pretty neat. She even has a song there, as she's closing up for the night.

I have to talk about Nell of New Rochelle. It's the act that the band puts on to raise money for the trip. It's sort of a spoof of melodrama. Basically the whole act is shown in the film, which takes up a chunk of time and puts Strike Up the Band at the two-hour mark.

When I first watched it, I was like what? But it's honestly hilarious. A villain with a great laugh, Mickey Rooney in makeup, the kid Willie playing a baby, the threat of a character being tied to a train track (and another sent nearly through the sawmill)'s weird and funny. {Willie's song to his father makes me laugh.} It sounds bizarre, but you just have to see it.

Have you seen Strike Up the Band?

{Read my review of the first Mickey/Judy musical, Babes in Arms, here.}

Until next time,

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