Summer Stock is a 1950 American Technicolor musical film directed by Charles Walters and stars Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Eddie Bracken, Gloria DeHaven, Marjorie Main and Phil Silvers. Judy struggled with many personal problems during filming and Summer Stock proved to be her final film with MGM, as well as her last onscreen paring with Kelly. By mutual agreement MGM terminated her contract by September 1950, something the head of studio, L.B. Mayer said he later regretted doing.
Jane Falbury (Garland) is a farm owner whose actress sister, Abigail (DeHaven), arrives at the family farm with her theater troupe. They need a place to rehearse, and Jane and her housekeeper Esme (Main), hesitantly agree to let them use their barn. The actors and actresses, including the director, Joe Ross (Kelly), pay back her hospitality by doing chores around the farm. Although Joe is engaged to Abigail, he begins to fall in love with Jane after Abigail leaves him in a rage. Likewise, even though Jane is enaged to Orville (Bracken), she falls in love with Joe.
Although this is not Garland’s or Kelly’s best work, it is still a really fun film, filled with laughter, fun songs, dancing and romance, their best is perhaps 1942’s For Me and My Gal. But Summer Stock is still worth seeing for the songs, choreography and romance. Some of the songs are a bit cheesy like so many classic musicals and Gene Kelly is a typecast again as the romantic song and dance man, but he does a great job regardless. Judy Garland is fantastic in her role, and though she was a tiny 4’11,” she seems much taller with her wide voice range and her excellent dancing skills.
This film will have you singing and dancing and it will warm your heart. Warning, there is a scene that might make you tear up. There are many great songs throughout this musical such as “Wonderful You,” “If You Feel Like Singing, Sing” and “Get Happy” (One of Judy’s signature songs). The choreography by Nicholas Castle Sr. is so much fun, it’ll have you either tapping your foot, or dancing right along.
There is no foul language, drinking or smoking shown and there is only one scene where Jane is shown showering and putting on clothes, but she is shown from shoulders up, so this is a very family friendly film. This is a feel good movie, one that can brighten you right up if you’re feeling sad or angry. Just the “Get Happy” scene alone will have you smiling ear to ear. Yes, this musical is a bit cheesy, but not as cheesy as Oklahoma! or Easter Parade, and many others from back in the day. That still does not make this one bad.
This is definitely not as a good as Singin’ in Rain or An American in Paris, but it’s not terrible. It is wildly entertaining from begining to end, though the plot is very simple. Would I have paid to see this on the big screen or on stage? Probably not, but if I found it on TV or streaming, I may or may not watch it. Having seen this film already, I can say, this is not one I could watch over and over again like Singin’ in the Rain. It’s a cute movie, very enjoyable, but the over the top cheesiness could have been dialed back a lot. Overall, this a very good, not great movie, though it is a joyous watch. 9+ 3.5/5