Tuesday, December 17, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Films: In the Good Old Summertime {6}

No, I'm not joking. This movie really is called In the Good Old Summertime, and it is a Christmas movie! :) The title doesn't make much sense, because only the first few scenes and the very end are actually set during the summer...the rest of the story happens at Christmas time.

In the Good Old Summertime is a musical remake of The Shop Around the Corner, but it feels like a completely original and different film. The basic plot is similar, and some lines are word-for-word the same, but there are quite a few differences. This film takes place in a music shop, of course (it is a musical, after all!). It's also quite a bit lighter and less dramatic. And there are several musical numbers. Ha. :)

This movie is so ridiculously fun and adorable. It doesn't seem to be a particularly popular musical (it was really hard to find pictures of it on Google), which is unfortunate. If you haven't seen it, you're really missing out! I first watched it years ago when I discovered how much I love Judy Garland musicals and set out to see as many of them as possible. I loved it right from the beginning.

The cast is amazing. First of all, I just mentioned that there's Judy Garland! She's my favorite musical actress. I know that she famously had quite a tragic life, but she brings so much life and joy in her films! I love her voice and I think she does comedy really well, too. (By the way, this was her second to last film at MGM. Her final film with them is another one of my favorites that also seems under appreciated: Summer Stock.) Van Johnson is the male character, and he's great, too. Don't get me wrong...I adore Jimmy Stewart in The Shop Around the Corner (and basically everything else he's in), but Van Johnson is really special in this role. He's not quite as harsh as Jimmy Stewart, and you can see him falling for the girl a bit more quickly.

And the supporting cast...first there's S.Z. Sakall, who also plays a memorable part in my favorite Christmas movie (which will be reviewed soon :) as the hilarious and blustery owner of the music shop. Also, Judy Garland's daughter Liza Minnelli, who was three at the time, made her film debut at the very end.

But most importantly, there's Buster Keaton! I'm starting to become a big Buster Keaton fan, you guys. I've watched several of his silent films this year, but last week I watched The Cameraman and I absolutely loved it. It was random and a little bizarre, but hilarious and brilliant. Buster Keaton is so incredibly graceful, even when he's being clumsy. It's so neat to see some of his physical comedy in this film, over twenty years after the height of his silent film career. Here he plays an employee at the shop...he's actually the shop owner's nephew. It's not a very big part, but he steals every scene he's in. Apparently, Keaton created the whole violin scene early on, and he was given the role when they realized that no one would be able to do the sequence like he could. And he orchestrated the scene where Judy Garland and Van Johnson's characters run into each other towards the beginning.

I love the setting of turn-of-the-century Chicago. For some reason, I really love it when musicals made in the 40s or 50s are set in the early 1900s. It's interesting, and strange to me somehow, that period films were made back then just like they are today (except possibly a little less historically accurate?).

This film also has some lovely songs. I think I actually love all of the songs, which is unusual for me. There's even a Christmas song, which is enough for me to consider it a Christmas film. :) One of my favorite musical numbers is Put You Arms Around Me, Honey. The way that Garland and Johnson play off each other in that scene is hilarious! I love the looks they give each other and how they try to sabotage the song...it cracks me up when Judy Garland casually reaches down and slams the cover on his hands.

Can I just admit that I really don't like the violin girl? She's nice enough and a rather important part of the plot, I guess, but it drives me crazy how she distracts the two of them from each other. :) Also, what's with that silly ribbon tied around her neck?

As with The Shop Around the Corner, I love, love, love the ending. It's my favorite scene. Van Johnson has me laughing one minute (Mr. Newspickle?) and swooning the next. I just really love how the story comes full circle and everything is revealed. Of course, we've known what's going on from the beginning, and then the guy finds out, but it just doesn't feel complete until the girl realizes, too. :) So lovely.

Have you seen In the Good Old Summertime?


  1. I've never seen this one! But after reading this I really want to. I might have to find it and watch it this weekend.

  2. If 'Violin Girl' was made more appealing to the Van Johnson character there'd be no need to include the Garland character. So they had to write her bland. In real life she had a varied career in music, acting, as well as an athlete.
    Garland was adorable. Ironically, her 'I Don't Care' number was more biographical than intended.
    So now there are 3 versions, "Shop .." 'Good Old Summertime,' 'You've Got Mail.'

  3. 12 Days of Christmas Films" in the good old holiday spirit is a festive treat! Each film brings its own magic, spreading joy and cheer. Lag In Gaming It's a wonderful tradition that brings families together.


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