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Film Review: In the Good Old Summertime


In the Good Old Summertime

MGM, 1949 (Color, 104 minutes, Production No. 1440)

Answering an ad in the newspaper, Andrew Larkin begins corresponding with a female pen pal. The "intellectual" correspondence soon turns to love, and Andy's thoughts begin to turn to marriage. In the meantime, his pen pal, Veronica Fisher, comes to work in the same music store, unbeknownst to either of them. Sparks fly from the beginning; the two just can't seem to get along. Through their correspondence, they agree to meet for dinner one evening, but Andy sees Veronica through the restaurant window, and refuses to go in. He leaves her sitting alone and, though he now knows who his pen pal is, she is left in the dark...for the time being.

See also: The Shop Around the Corner

See DVD Review


Produced by: Joe Pasternak
Directed by: Robert Z. Leonard
Written for the Screen by: Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich and Ivan Tors
From a Screen Play by: Samson Raphaelson
And a Play by: Miklos Laszlo ("The Shop Around the Corner")
Musical Direction: Georgie Stoll
Vocal Orchestrations: Conrad Salinger
Song: "In the Good Old Summertime" Music by George Evans, Lyrics by Ren Shields
Musical Sequences Directed by: Robert Alton
Art Directors: Cedric Gibbons and Randall Duell
Set Decorations: Edwin B. Willis
Associate: Alfred E. Spencer
Women's Costumes by: Irene
Men's Costumes by: Valles
Hair Styles Designed by: Sydney Guillaroff
Make-Up Created by: Jack Dawn
Recording Supervisor: Douglas Shearer
Director of Photography: Harry Stradling
Special Effects: Warren Newcombe
Color by Technicolor
Technicolor Color Director: Natalie Kalmus
Associate: James Gooch
Film Editor: Adrienne Fazan

Filmed: October 1948 - January 1949 (Judy was 26 years old)
Released: August 1949


Judy Garland ... Veronica Fisher
Van Johnson ... Andrew Larkin
S. Z. ("Cuddles") Sakall ... Otto Oberkugen
Spring Byington ... Nellie Burke
Buster Keaton ... Hickey
Marcia Van Dyke ... Louise Parkson
Clinton Sundberg ... Rudy Hansen
Lillian Bronson ... Aunt Addie
Ralph Sanford ... Policeman
Charles Smith ... member of quartet (uncredited)
Liza Minnelli ... toddler in final scene (uncredited)

Musical Program

[0:00] Overture: "In the Good Old Summertime" / Chicago (instrumental arrangements played by Orchestra behind titles)
[0:03] In the Good Old Summertime (sung by Van Johnson, Buster Keaton, Spring Byington, S. Z. Sakall and Chorus)
[0:17] Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland (sung by Judy Garland)
[0:22] Waltz from Serenade for Strings (violin played by Marcia Van Dyke as part of Girls string quartet with piano in restaurant)
[0:28] Put Your Arms Around Me Honey (sung by Judy Garland with Van Johnson)
[1:07] Wait 'Til the Sun Shines Nellie (sung by The King's Men dubbing for mens quartet onscreen)
[1:08] Little Brown Jug Polka (danced by party guests at beer garden)
[1:11] Play That Barbershop Chord (sung by Judy Garland and The King's Men dubbing for Mens Quartet onscreen)
[1:15] I Don't Care (sung by Judy Garland)
[1:20] Souvenir de Moscow (violin played by Marcia Van Dyke at audition)
[1:33] Merry Christmas (sung by Judy Garland)
[1:41] In the Good Old Summertime (reprised by Chorus at end of film)
[cut] Last Night When We Were Young (sung by Judy Garland)

see soundtrack CD review


In the Good Old Summertime is a musical remake of The Shop Around the Corner, produced by MGM in 1940 and starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan.

The number "Last Night When We Were Young," sung by Judy Garland after missing her pen pal at the restaurant, was cut from the film because it was considered too somber for the otherwise light-hearted story.

Liza Minnelli, Judy's first-born daughter and now legendary entertainer, made her screen debut in this film at the ripe old age of two. She is the little girl strolling with Judy and Van in the final scene of the movie.

Once again, Joe Pasternak was impressed with Judy, saying:

"A great artist is entitled to a lot more latitude. The quality that makes her great makes her feel more deeply. All of us felt - and you don't often feel this way in Hollywood - that we would accommodate ourselves gladly to work with Judy. There was never a word uttered in recrimination when she was late, didn't show up, or couldn't go on. We knew her magical genius and respected it."

"Judy looked at a script once - and never flubbed a line. She learned a musical number in no time and she gave it her all. Very seldom did you have to make two takes with her. This was very unusual - a normal musical comedy star would take three or four weeks to learn a number. What we did was to have a stand-in go through it. Judy used to watch it once or twice, then do the number."

"Some stars never looked at the day's rushes. I don't think Clark Gable or Spencer Tracy ever looked at them. Sometimes Judy would look at the rushes - sometimes she liked herself and sometimes she didn't - but she was never right, because her own conception of herself was not as good as the director's, mine or the audience's. She was never completely satisfied."

See Judy Garland Movies on Video for purchasing information.

See Class Act for more information on this and other classic films.

Critical Response

This is a latter-day Summer when Van Johnson was a salesman in S.Z. Sakall's Chicago music store. Judy Garland wangles a job there and she and Van bicker constantly, unaware that they are corresponding like crazy via mail boxes and without using names - in fact, they've fallen for each other by mail. It's in Technicolor - Judy sings entrancingly (probably the most exciting voice MGM owns), acts with verve, aplomb and telling comedy. Van is the first-rate actor we've always insisted he was and Spring Byington, Buster Keaton, Clint Sundberg aid the super Sakall in the comedy doings. It's a gay, happy film - especially in a sequence where Van bumps into Judy, gets hopelessly entangled in her hat-with-bird, false-hair-bun, umbrella and charm...Very Good, Indeed.

- William Lynch Vallee

"3 stars...Looking much sturdier than she did in her last screen appearance, Judy performs the role of the ambitious heroine with some of her old time verve. She also sings the title song and several other old favorites with unusual effectiveness."

- Kate Cameron, The New York Daily News

"Films based on musical nostalgia have so often been saddled with silly plots that even Technicolor and important casts couldn't keep them afloat. Hence, the unflagging sparkle of Summertime comes as a pleasant surprise...Miss Garland's voice - as appealing as ever - this time plays second fiddle to one of her best straight comedy performances."

- Newsweek

Memorable Lines

Rudy: (To Andrew) "If a friend is really a friend, he comes after dinner."

Andrew: (speaking of his "dear friend") "After a while, we got around to the subject of love - on a very intellectual plane, of course."
Rudy: "Well, how else can you do it in a letter?"

Andrew: (seeing Veronica approaching) "Here comes the duchess."

Veronica: (to Andrew) "Mr. Larkin, I don't like you!"

Veronica: (referring to her "dear friend") "He'll be tall and dark and terribly, terribly handsome...and kind of sad..."

Veronica: "Oh, Mr. Larkin, I wouldn't care to scratch your surface, because I know that underneath, instead of a heart I'd find a piccolo, instead of a soul I'd find a flute, and instead of an intellect I'd find a metronome that doesn't work very well!"
Andrew: That's very well put - it's such an interesting mixture of poetry and meanness!"

Veronica: (to Andrew) "You belittling counter-jumper, you!"

Rudy: (to Hickey) "I can't understand it - he fires a man like Andy and keeps a man like you!"
Hickey: "I told you he was crazy!"

Supplemental Material

Supplement 1: Magazine review
Supplement 2: Miscellaneous photos
Supplement 3: "In the Good Old Summertime" in story form

See DVD Review

In the Good Old Summeritme DVD

See DVD Review

Judy Garland Signature Collection DVD Box Set
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In the Good Old Summertime VHS

In the Good Old Summertime Soundtrack CD
Buy soundtrack

Judy Garland and Van Johnson on the cover of "Picture Show", November 26, 1949

Van Johnson, Judy Garland and Cuddles Sakall

Original Poster Art

Ralph Sanford, Cuddles Sakall, Van Johnson and Marcia Van Dyke

Judy Garland and Quartet sing "Play That Barbershop Chord"

Judy sings "Last Night When We Were Young" in deleted scene

Judy Garland and Van Johnson

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