C’mon, Get Happy: The Making of Summer Stock

Univ. Pr. of Mississippi. Oct. 2023. 304p. ISBN 9781496838391. $35. FILM
Entertainment writers and coauthors of Hollywood Heyday, Fantle (film, Marquette Univ.) and Johnson delve into the 1950 MGM musical Summer Stock. It’s best known as the third and final onscreen collaboration between Judy Garland and Gene Kelly, and it’s the film from which Garland’s famous “Get Happy” musical number originated. The book takes a deep dive into the industry issues MGM was battling at the time, including script revisions, the rise of TV, and censorship from the Production Code Administration. It also examines Garland’s mental health and personal issues, which affected her ability to appear on set, and the bonds forged between cast and crew members doing their best to finish the film despite mounting production and scheduling issues. Garland’s fluctuating weight during filming is also briefly mentioned. The book shines best as a reflection on Garland’s and Kelly’s legacies and the contemporary studio structure in which they worked. However, as a critical evaluation of the film’s merits and its position in the musical canon today, the isolated listing structure of the book does not allow for much thematic coherence.
VERDICT Fans of Garland, Kelly, and the golden age of movie musicals will enjoy this exploration.
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