I still remember seeing THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT III for the first time in 1994. One segment in particular stood out .
I had never heard of an Irving Berlin song ‘Mr.Monotony’, or that it had been filmed with Judy Garland then cut from EASTER PARADE.
I immediately loved the song and Judy’s performance. I was also surprised that the number was filmed for Easter Parade because the film is set about 1912 and the number and Judy’s outfit were so modern looking (pictures below), Maybe a reason it was cut from the film.
Judy (with Fred Astaire) in a more typical outfit in the film.
The full number was on the dvd release of That’s Entertainment III and Easter Parade and I still love watching it. Judy looks great and that outfit was so popular she wore it again, doing ‘Get Happy’ in SUMMER STOCK two years later.Another great number. (No one supposing that Mr Monotony would ever surface again.)
The song,about a trombone player called Mr.Monotony, was far from monotonous. It’s slow, deliberate,jazzy and hypnotic, and the dance steps arranged for Judy (Robert Alton) are perfectly in tune with the melody. And praise to music arrangers Conrad Salinger and Roger Edens. It’s a terrific arrangement.
Also amazing on the dvd release is a 20 minute section of sequences showing the filming of Mr.Monotony. If like me you love to see behind the scenes, this is incredible to watch.
Judy is seen singing to playback – again and again. She keeps it wonderfully fresh despite take after take after take.
(I read that filming of the number took two days, with 63 takes.)
Long,medium and close shots are filmed. Judy is often stopped mid song and has to link in with the playback again. She repeats all the body movements perfectly.
And we see Judy trying different curtain calls at the end of the number. She looks so relaxed.
Irving Berlin tried hard to get Mr. Monotony before the public.It was put into his Broadway show,Miss Liberty in 1949, but again was cut.
Then Ethel Merman sang it on stage in tryouts for Call Me Madam. But Ethel asked for it to be removed as the audience reaction wasn’t good. (Oh,to hear Ethel’s version!)
Easter Parade was a smash hit for MGM despite big problems at the beginning of shooting. Originally Vincente Minnelli was due to direct and Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse were to be Judy’s costars.
After Gene and Cyd suffered injuries, they were replaced by Fred Astaire and Ann Miller. And Charles Walters replaced Minnelli.
During filming, Judy was also doing re-takes for The Pirate.
And the plan was to re-team Judy and Fred in The Barkleys of Broadway. Sadly that wasn’t to be.
So here’s to that Mr. Monotony,
” Playing on his side trombone, in a certain monotone….”
Maybe only Mr. Berlin could rhyme ‘ got any’ with ‘monotony’.
“Have you got any monotony today….”
The following two pictures are from Summer Stock’s ‘Get Happy’.