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

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In their third and final screen teaming, Judy Garland and Gene Kelly starred together in the MGM musical Summer Stock. Despite its riveting production history, charismatic lead actors, and classic musical moments, the movie has not received the same attention as other musicals from MGM’s storied dream factory. In C’mon, Get Happy: The Making of “Summer Stock,” authors David Fantle and Tom Johnson present a comprehensive study of this 1950 motion picture, from start to finish and after its release.

The production coincided at a critical point in the careers of Kelly and an emotionally spent Garland. Kelly, who starred in An American in Paris just one year later, was at the peak of his abilities. On the other hand, Summer Stock was Garland’s final film at MGM, and she gamely completed it despite her own personal struggles. Summer Stock includes Kelly’s favorite solo dance routine and Garland’s signature number “Get Happy.”

The authors discuss in rich detail the contributions of the cast (which included Gloria DeHaven, Eddie Bracken, Phil Silvers, and Marjorie Main); the director (Charles Walters); the producer (Joe Pasternak); the script writers (George Wells and Sy Gomberg); the songwriters (which included Harry Warren and Mack Gordon); and top MGM executives (Louis B. Mayer and Dore Schary). The volume features extensive interviews, conducted by the authors, with Kelly, Walters, Warren, and others, who shared their recollections of making the movie. Deeply researched, C’mon, Get Happy reveals the studio system at work during Hollywood’s Golden Era.

Additionally, the authors have written a special section called “Taking Stock” that buttonholes numerous contemporary dancers, singers, choreographers, musicians, and even Garland impersonators for their take on Summer Stock, its stars, and any enduring legacy they think the film might have. Artists from Mikhail Baryshnikov, Ben Vereen, and Tommy Tune to Garland’s and Kelly’s daughters, Lorna Luft and Kerry Kelly Novick, respectively, offer their unique perspective on the film and its stars.


From the Publisher

Gene Kelly in the "squeaky board" dance routineGene Kelly in the "squeaky board" dance routine

Tommy Tune, ten-time Tony Award–winning director, choreographer, and dancer says

“Just like the dance Gene Kelly does on a squeaky board and newspaper that builds from a hesitating start to an explosive finish, Dave and Tom expertly chronicle the making of Summer Stock from uncertain beginnings to its ultimate triumph on the screen.”

Gene Kelly and Judy Garland dancing Courtesy of Kim Lundeen Collection Gene Kelly and Judy Garland dancing Courtesy of Kim Lundeen Collection

Lorna Luft, singer, author, and daughter of Judy Garland says

“Thank you for your insightful and loving book about the movie, Summer Stock. I’m sure that, without a doubt, it will make your readers forget their troubles and just Get Happy!”

Phil Silvers and Gene Kelly dressed as Hillbillies in Summer Stock, courtesy of PhotofestPhil Silvers and Gene Kelly dressed as Hillbillies in Summer Stock, courtesy of Photofest

Rob Marshall, film and Broadway director and choreographer of Chicago, Nine, and Into the Woods says

“Shout ‘HALLELUJAH!’—Fantle and Johnson have given us a rare peek into the miracle that is filmmaking. Their love for movie musicals of the Golden Age comes through in every glorious and riveting detail.”

Seated L-R: Gene Kelly, Al Jennings, Judy Garland and Chuck Walters, courtesy Photofest.Seated L-R: Gene Kelly, Al Jennings, Judy Garland and Chuck Walters, courtesy Photofest.

Michael Feinstein, singer, songwriter, and ambassador of the Great American Songbook says

“This very special book is entertaining and meticulously researched. It offers a clear sense of how they created a musical during the Golden Age of Hollywood and connects the dots of the process, combining the strands of many important voices, leaving the modern reader agog at the wonders of the MGM factory and the studio system. I thoroughly enjoyed it!”

Book cover C'mon, Get Happy: The Making of Summer StockBook cover C'mon, Get Happy: The Making of Summer Stock

Susan Stroman, five-time Tony Award–winning choreographer and director of the Broadway and film versions of The Producers says

“I know every step in Summer Stock like the back of my hand, and David and Tom have done a brilliant job capturing the magic of this beloved classic. What a thrill to be taken behind the scenes to glimpse the extraordinary talents who brought to life one of the all-time greats from the MGM era. An absolute must-read!”

Publisher ‏ : ‎ University Press of Mississippi; Hardback ed. edition (October 10, 2023)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 312 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1496838394
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1496838391
Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.36 pounds
Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.22 x 0.88 x 9.32 inches

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

Original price was: $35.00.Current price is: $18.30.

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