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The Varsity Drag


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#31 sandik

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Posted 07 May 2015 - 04:00 PM

"Everybody!  Down on your heels..."

 

And then look at what YouTube gave me next!



#32 miliosr

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 02:21 PM

I didn't know that about Powell. It's an interesting idea. Possibly the public might not have accepted Powell in the role, but I'd have liked to see her in it.

I would have as well.  I've always liked her, especially in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Royal Wedding, where she was a replacement for a replacement.  (June Allyson was originally cast but dropped out due to pregnancy.  Judy Garland replaced her but was so unreliable that the studio fired her.)

 

Powell's instincts were sound in lobbying for the part as she no doubt sensed that audiences would tire of her "girl next door" image eventually and, in any event, that the M-G-M of the mid-50s wouldn't be making movies that featured her style for very much longer.  But, as you say dirac, the studio may have felt that casting Powell opposite James Cagney in a "tough gal" part was a bridge too far for audiences of the era.

 

While we may wonder what Powell would have been like in the part, it's hard to quibble with M-G-M's decision since Love Me or Leave Me was a big moneymaker w/ Doris Day as Ruth Etting.  Certainly, it was the one musical bright spot in a year of financial disasters: Kismet (-$2,252,000), Jupiter's Darling (-$2,232,000), It's Always Fair Weather (-$1,675,000) and Hit the Deck (-$454,000.)  All of these flops would finish off many of the studio's musical performers: Esther Williams, Howard Keel, Marge&Gower Champion, Vic Damone and Powell herself.



#33 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 04:12 PM

 

"Whenever I pray to God, I find I'm talking to myself."

 

That picture is just chock full of great lines, isn't it?  :)



#34 dirac

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Posted 09 May 2015 - 04:44 PM

 

That picture is just chock full of great lines, isn't it?  smile.png

 

Endlessly quotable.  "For what I am about to receive, may I make myself truly thankful."

 

"We'd all be pretty crackers if we went around doing just what we wanted to, wouldn't we?"

 

Yeah, I've seen it more than once......

 

I've always liked her, especially in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Royal Wedding, where she was a replacement for a replacement.

 

 

I do, too. Fred Astaire said of her in Royal Wedding that "She surprised everyone by her handling of the dances."

 

I did wonder about Fred and Jane's mother, who waited thirty years between babies.



#35 miliosr

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Posted 10 May 2015 - 07:54 AM

Fred Astaire said of her in Royal Wedding that "She surprised everyone by her handling of the dances."

John Mueller, in his film-by-film retrospective of Astaire's career, Astaire Dancing, was very complimentary of Powell, and considered her one of the best things about the movie (and one of Astaire's best post-Rogers partners.)

 

It's tempting to speculate how Royal Wedding would have been with either June Allyson or Judy Garland in the part of Astaire's sister.  Allyson's casting would have reunited her with Peter Lawford, with whom she had great chemistry in Good News.  Garland's casting would have reunited her with Astaire and Lawford from their great success in Easter Parade.  But I wonder if either Allyson or Garland could have sung a song like "Too Late Now" with the same delicacy with which Powell sang it:

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=GX1c8ddVVX8

 

I like Allyson's foghorn singing voice but I would never use the word "delicate" to describe it.  And Garland, by 1951, was already well on her way to her mature style, which I am by no means a fan of.



#36 dirac

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Posted 12 May 2015 - 09:02 AM

 Powell is great in Royal Wedding, although I might not go as far as Mueller. I think Allyson would have been all right (and she could have sung a very tender "Too Late Now," if not with Powell's delicacy). Judy - as a rule I'd rather see her on an off day than not at all, she's just more interesting to watch in most circumstances. But if she brought to the song the same attack she brought to the ballads in Easter Parade, then I definitely agree with you.



#37 miliosr

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Posted 13 May 2015 - 03:56 PM

But if she brought to the song the same attack she brought to the ballads in Easter Parade, then I definitely agree with you.

In his book on Astaire, Mueller goes after Garland for her brassy delivery and harsh vibrato when he discusses Easter Parade.  (And I agree with him.)



#38 dirac

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Posted 13 May 2015 - 04:39 PM

Garland had apparently made good progress with the Royal Wedding score before her dismissal and Saul Chaplin said she handled it beautifully, so who knows....... 



#39 miliosr

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Posted 14 May 2015 - 02:41 PM

That's interesting about Garland and the Royal Wedding score.  I never realized that her participation had even gotten that far.

 

Rhino put out a complete Royal Wedding soundtrack on CD during the 00s but it didn't have any Garland tracks on it.  (The Rhino version of Annie Get Your Gun, by contrast, has the long-unreleased Garland versions of the songs.)  I imagine any Garland tracks from Royal Wedding sessions are lost forever if they didn't make it onto the CD release.



#40 miliosr

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Posted 14 May 2015 - 04:10 PM

Since this thread has kind of evolved into an all-purpose M-G-M thread, I thought I would mention that Van Johnson's daughter posted a positive review (in the reviews section of Amazon.com) of a biography of her father, which came out over a decade ago.  The best part, though, is that she continues to respond to other posters in the comments section of her review.



#41 sidwich

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Posted 14 May 2015 - 11:40 PM

 

It's tempting to speculate how Royal Wedding would have been with either June Allyson or Judy Garland in the part of Astaire's sister.  Allyson's casting would have reunited her with Peter Lawford, with whom she had great chemistry in Good News.  Garland's casting would have reunited her with Astaire and Lawford from their great success in Easter Parade.  But I wonder if either Allyson or Garland could have sung a song like "Too Late Now" with the same delicacy with which Powell sang it:

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=GX1c8ddVVX8

 

I like Allyson's foghorn singing voice but I would never use the word "delicate" to describe it.  And Garland, by 1951, was already well on her way to her mature style, which I am by no means a fan of.

 

To come full circle, Royal Wedding also would have reunited Allyson with Chuck Walters who also directed Good News. Walters pulled out of Royal Wedding when Garland was cast.  Although her close friend and frequent collaborator (he directed Easter Parade and Summer Stock, choreographed and staged numbers in other films for her, and later worked with her on her concerts), he had had it with Garland by the time Royal Wedding came around.

 

I actually like some of Garland's delivery in Easter Parade. For me, it's more that by 1951, the abuse and air pockets in her voice started to become apparent.

 

Actually, to bring it back to Good News again, Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland were the the first choices to play the leads.  (I suppose a 5'2 quarterback is no more unbelievable than a decidedly British one.)



#42 dirac

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Posted 15 May 2015 - 09:06 AM

That's interesting about Garland and the Royal Wedding score.  I never realized that her participation had even gotten that far.

 

Rhino put out a complete Royal Wedding soundtrack on CD during the 00s but it didn't have any Garland tracks on it.  (The Rhino version of Annie Get Your Gun, by contrast, has the long-unreleased Garland versions of the songs.)  I imagine any Garland tracks from Royal Wedding sessions are lost forever if they didn't make it onto the CD release.

 

Chaplin was commenting on rehearsals, I think, and it's unlikely Garland got to the pre-recording stage on the picture. Too bad. Powell is fine in "How Could You Believe Me...", for instance, but with Judy it might have been another classic routine like "A Couple of Swells."

 

 I thought I would mention that Van Johnson's daughter posted a positive review (in the reviews section of Amazon.com) of a biography of her father, which came out over a decade ago.  The best part, though, is that she continues to respond to other posters in the comments section of her review.

 

 

Thanks for the tip.



#43 miliosr

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Posted 15 May 2015 - 03:57 PM

Powell is fine in "How Could You Believe Me...", for instance, but with Judy it might have been another classic routine like "A Couple of Swells."

I've always thought this number was a real triumph for Powell because it went so far against the grain of what she had done up to that point and, most likely, what anyone thought she could do.



#44 dirac

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Posted 20 May 2015 - 03:15 PM

She's very nice in it. Interestingly, she herself doesn't seem to have regarded it as any special breakthrough, or at least she didn't describe it as such in her book.

 

For a change of pace, here's the Stan Getz Quintet Varsity Drag for interested listeners.




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