A Judy Garland film without music? Not at MGM.
(Oh yes, only one, The Clock. but that was just a little film the studio allowed her to make to satisfy her need to prove she was a good enough actress to play drama. But let’s be serious. They knew her fans expected and wanted her to sing!)
And so when the studio was considering a remake of the hit film, Shop Around the Corner, some bright executive said, “let’s add songs and make it a Garland film.” In addition why not add a Christmas song, and maybe duplicate the success of her hit, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” — Thus production started on In The Good Old Summertime.
This reworking of Shop Around the Corner, wouldn’t be the last but would certainly be the best, producing a film as good as the original. They changed the locale, from a leather goods store in Budapest to a music store in Chicago. They changed the time period, setting it at the turn of the century. But like the original they peppered the cast with fine character actors and they kept some of the best dialogue.
The final scene, between Judy and Van Johnson, where he teases her about her unseen pen pal fiance, is as wonderful and funny as it was between Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan.
“Cuddles” Sakall, Spring Byington, and Buster Keaton add to the humor. And Liza Minnelli makes her film debut.
The song, “Merry Christmas,” has failed to become a standard, but it has been recorded by many artists over the years. No matter, the film was an enormous hit, grossing nearly $4 million.