For Me and My Gal (1942)

Judging by its lofty pedigree on paper, For Me and My Gal should really be one of cinema’s most enduring and classic musicals. Not only was it directed by Busby Berkeley and produced by Arthur Freed, but it was Judy Garland’s first “adult” role, and, furthermore, Gene Kelly’s film debut. And yet it remains one of the more underseen Garland and/or Kelly and/or Berkeley pictures of the era, in part because, well… it’s a bit dark.

Holiday Inn (1942)

Holiday Inn, the 1942 musical that teamed up Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire for the first time, is… mostly a Christmas movie.  It begins and ends at Christmas, of course, and won an Oscar for spawning the classic song, “White Christmas”–which later became a star on its own, in the sort-of-sequel, sort-of-remake, White Christmas, as well as holding the record as the best-selling song for over 50 years. But Holiday Inn was never designed to be a vehicle for delivering Christmas songs unto a willing audience. Rather, the point was to cover a whole range of holidays throughout the year, from New Year’s Day to New Year’s Eve, and allow people to accent nearly every moment of their life with a specialized Irving Berlin song. (People at this time already had “God Bless America,” but were sadly lacking any Berlin tunes to play for Thanksgiving, Washington’s Birthday, or many other holidays.) So, though I’m comfortable calling it a Christmas movie, it is a bit of an accidental Christmas movie.

Stage Struck (1936)

One of my very favorite things in the world is old-school journalistic prose, especially film reviews, and MOST especially negative film reviews, so it was with a delighted heart that I came across this terrific pan from Frank S. Nugent’s review of Stage Struck in the New York Times, published September 28, 1936.