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Friday, December 30, 2011

Summer Holiday (1948)

Set in the turn of the century small town Connecticut, a young boy (Mickey Rooney) graduating from high school struggles with puppy love and Marxist philosophies during the summer. This musical version of the Eugene O'Neill play AH, WILDERNESS! is quite charming in its depiction of small town Americana. For some reason, it's not a very well liked musical but I found its nostalgic simplicity endearing. Certainly it's not a great musical. The songs by Harry Warren and Ralph Blane aren't very memorable but they work quite well in the context of the film. The director, Rouben Mamoulian, handles the musical numbers ably enough and there's a marvelous sequence where Rooney picks up a floozy (Marilyn Maxwell) and takes her to a bar and as he gets drunker, she becomes more attractive. With the exception of Gloria DeHaven as Rooney's romantic interest and Maxwell, the rest of the cast aren't singers but they do very well with their talking songs in a style later perfected by Rex Harrison in MY FAIR LADY. The cast includes Walter Huston, Agnes Moorehead, Frank Morgan, Selena Royle, Butch Jenkins and Anne Francis.

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