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The Varsity Drag


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#16 sandik

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Posted 25 July 2014 - 03:43 PM

There are some odd judgments and infelicitous editing choices, but overall Sagolla's bio is a good one. She's stronger on the dance world than on Broadway or Hollywood, but she makes an honorable effort to address all aspects of McCracken's career. 

 

Sadly, Ray McDonald, who is the male lead dancing opposite Joan McCracken, also died quite young.  For unknown reasons, he never quite established himself at M-G-M and this would be his last film at the studio.  (Maybe his looks weren't quite leading man handsome?)

 

 

Could be. And/or maybe they just didn't see a need or niche for another dancing man.

 

He did a wonderful softshoe to "By the LIght of the Silvery Moon" in Babes on Broadway. 

 

 Thanks for the heads-up -- I remember the number a bit, but will look more closely the next time I watch the film.



#17 dirac

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Posted 25 July 2014 - 03:55 PM

It would be hard to know what to do with McCracken. Her pixie looks are at odds with the brassy voice, she was primarily a ballet-trained dancer but doesn’t have a glamorous ballerina look with her small stature and sturdy legs – not a Zorina or Charisse, and not a waif like Leslie Caron.

 

Sagolla says in the bio that McCracken was offered the role of the older sister in “Meet Me in St. Louis” and turned it down. The role went to Arthur Freed’s “protegee” Lucille Bremer, who wasn’t so bad in MMSL but was notoriously pushed well beyond her limits later on. It’s an interesting exercise to speculate on what-if. Sagolla treats this as a great blunder by McCracken, and as things developed I suppose it was, but the role probably didn’t look so great on paper (Garland didn't want to do the picture either, initially regarding the role as the kind of lovesick teenager part she was then trying to get away from). In the end it may not have made any difference, at least as far as McCracken and Hollywood were concerned. Would have been very interesting to see McCracken and Judy together, though. And McCracken would have had a role in a certified classic film and might be slightly better remembered today.



#18 miliosr

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Posted 25 July 2014 - 04:15 PM

I think things worked out as they should have w/ Judy Garland and Lucille Bremer playing the two sisters in Meet Me in St. Louis. Garland and Bremer are believable as two sisters who spar in an affectionate way.  I'm not so sure McCracken could have toned-down her harder edge to play the Bremer part.

 

I always thought Bremer took the fall -- unfairly -- for the debacle that was Yolanda & The Thief.  Yes, she wasn't ready to carry a film but it wasn't like she was the sole author of the disaster.  But if you're the "protégé," the long knives will be waiting for you.



#19 dirac

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Posted 26 July 2014 - 11:12 AM

I always thought Bremer took the fall -- unfairly -- for the debacle that was Yolanda & The Thief.  

 

And Yolanda is a terrible character to have to play - for plot purposes she has to be naive to the point of idiocy. Still, Bremer shows little in the way of charm or appeal as an actor and not much more as a dancer.

 

I did like her sister Rose in MMSL.( "I can't handle twenty men alone. I admit it!")



#20 miliosr

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Posted 26 July 2014 - 04:25 PM

Bremer sort of hit the lottery with Meet Me in St. Louis. She made very few movies but one of the ones she did make is an indisputable classic.  She's already better remembered for that one supporting part than a lot of her direct contemporaries at M-G-M are despite making many more pictures.



#21 dirac

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 03:03 PM

And a lot of the people who see MMSL now won't realize that she was Arthur Freed's Edsel.:)



#22 miliosr

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 03:28 PM

And a lot of the people who see MMSL now won't realize that she was Arthur Freed's Edsel.

That's the great thing about time, though.  Eventually, all that other stuff sifts down and what you're left with is the work.  And that's when you can really start ranking things, no matter what the discipline is.



#23 sandik

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 10:43 PM

And a lot of the people who see MMSL now won't realize that she was Arthur Freed's Edsel.smile.png

 

Oh ouch!  My uncle commented once, after watching my sister as a baby, wearing those ruffled diaper covers called "rhumba pants" and crawling across the living room, that she looked like "the rear end of an Edsel."



#24 dirac

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 05:52 PM

No, it wasn't a very pretty vehicle. And of course Ford had to name the car after his son, as if poor Edsel didn't have enough problems. 



#25 sidwich

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 08:43 PM

I really can't see McCracken as Rose in MMSL.  I honestly can't believe she would have been offered the part on the strength of Oklahoma! at the time, although I suppose anything is possible.

 

Yes, Yolanda and the Thief really did Lucille Bremer no favors.  I actually still enjoy her in her two parts of Ziegfeld Follies with Astaire, though.  Neither requires much acting, and her striking looks really serve the pieces well.  Astaire also had the knack for making (almost) all of his partners look good.  

 

Yolanda and the Thief has too much stuff that even Fred Astaire can't save, though...




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