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Roy Del Ruth
Talented small-town girl Lily Mars hounds producer John Thornway for a part in his new play, but he doesn't want anything to do with stage-struck amateurs. But when Lily follows him to New York, he gets to know her better and his opinion of her changes for the better. Then, when the leading lady of the play walks out, Lily gets her big break on Broadway.Written by
Leon Wolters <wolters@strw.LeidenUniv.nl>
First of all, she never looked better... sort of the apotheosis of all that evil energy MGM spent in turning Frances Gumm into Judy Garland. Blondish (and not a wig), thin (but not too thin), energized and comic (working her mannerisms rather than the reverse), and she sounds great. Moreover, Hollywood and Tarkington were made for each other, and the payoff works here as well. Clever americana, with truly inspired set pieces surrounding Judy's attempts to get "discovered" by "local boy makes good" producer, Heflin.
The tacked-on, mega-production ending is a real clunker and can leave a bad aftertaste. Avoid the ending if you can pull yourself away. But for this grandiose, ill-fitting finale, an almost perfect Garland musical and as good as she gets (which is the best singing actress ever to grace the screen).
One more point in Garland's favor: she plays the perfect "straight man" in two comic scenes with her on screen younger sister. Given Garland's reputation, let alone the instincts of any actor not to be upstaged, one can't but admire her generosity. Her self-confidence and generosity in these scenes make the film that much funnier and stronger.
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