Judy Garland’s Last Film at MGM: Interview with Author David Fantle | Interviews

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Authors David Fantle and Tom Johnson

I was glad to see you devote so much attention to director Charles Walters, generally overlooked in favor of Vincente Minnelli and Stanley Donan. What were the special strengths Walters brought to this film?

Charles Walter was the consummate company man known for bringing in his films under budget and on time. He certainly accomplished that with his first three directorial efforts, “Good News,” “Easter Parade,” and “The Barkleys of Broadway.” But his films, also including “Lili,” “The Tender Trap,” and “High Society,” were marked by good taste. Chuck started as a dancer and choreographer at MGM, so he learned the ropes before getting the reins of his first film, “Good News,” in 1947.

How did he work with the famously fragile Judy Garland on what would be her last film at the studio she’d worked at since she was a young girl?

Chuck danced and worked with Judy since 1942, including staging some dances for her in “Meet Me in St. Louis” in 1944. He was more than a director for her; he was a trusted friend. And as Judy’s insecurities mounted, she needed, especially in “Summer Stock,” the “security blanket” of Walters, Kelly, Bracken, Silvers, and DeHaven, all people she loved and trusted to get her over the finish line.

What did he say to her about the iconic “Get Happy” number?

To motivate Judy and get her in the right frame of mind, he told her to channel the great singer Lena Horne. So in “Get Happy,” thanks to Walters, Lena served as her motivation.

Today’s audiences will be either horrified or amused by the notes the production received from Hollywood production code enforcer (censor) Joseph Breen. How did you uncover his memo, and how did the memo affect the production?

The Academy Library in Los Angeles has all the Breen Office files on film productions they “approved.” “Summer Stock” was no exception. We were able to review these files. By all measures, “Summer Stock” was a wholesome production, but even Breen and his staff nit-picked on a few items: the hem of a dress, the passion of a kiss, the use of certain song lyrics, etc. 

Sumber: www.rogerebert.com

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