Coming out on Blu-ray on 23/6/20, Strike up the Band (1940) was the second star teaming of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney.
After the success of Babes in Arms (1939), MGM paired Judy and Mickey up again in this tale of a high school band going in for a competItion and the chance to meet orchestra leader Paul Whiteman.
With direction by Busby Berkeley and songs by Arthur Freed and Roger Edens , there are some great production numbers like La Conga,Drummer Boy and ballads for Judy – Our Love Affair and I Ain’t Got Nobody. And of course the rousing title number by the Gershwins.
Babes on Broadway and Girl Crazy followed in 1942 and 1943.
The 1940 film had the title Strike Up The Band, but had nothing to do with the original Broadway musical, Strike Up The Band by the Gershwins in 1927, which was a political satire – America declaring war on Switzerland over the price of cheese tariffs. It was not a success initially, but a revamped production in 1930 did have a successful run.
It had the glorious title number plus The Man I Love and I’ve Got a Crush On You.
There is a marvellous, rare 4 minutes of footage on You Tube of a 1929 rehearsal for the show at the Times Square Theatre in New York, with George Gershwin at the piano and exchanging some talk with two stars of the show, comedians Clark and McCullough.
Amazing too that in the pit orchestra for the show was the Red Nichols band, featuring Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Jimmy Dorsey, Gene Krupa!!!!
Looking forward to post-coronavirus:
“Let the drums roll out!
Let the trumpet call……..! “
On a sad note and unrelated to Strike Up The Band, I came across this rare on the set photo of Judy Garland and Frank Morgan relaxing between scenes on Annie Get Your Gun.
Judy was fired from the film in May 1949 and Frank Morgan died suddenly in September of the same year and was replaced as Buffalo Bill by Louis Calhern.
Filming recommenced in Sept.1949 with Betty Hutton in the lead.
Some shots of Judy as Annie Oakley. At least we have her recordings of the Irving Berlin songs.
For all things Judy, the place to go to is the Judy room.com
This website devoted to Judy has some interesting information on the period of time from March to May 1949 when Judy worked on the film. I presume the records are from MGM production notes.
The detail is amazing.
For example, on 7/4/49, the record shows :
11.11am to 11.35am Shoot 8 takes.
11.35 to 11.42, Camera reload.
11.44am to 12.10am. Rehearse set boom action.
12.10 to 13.10pm .Lunch.
And so on till 5.45pm. Including 4.59pm to 5.01pm. ‘Wait for director.‘
So very easy for the producers to see what is accomplished each day without having to visit the set. Unfortunately, the 27 year old Judy Garland wasn’t a well woman . She was out sick several days. One day she had a call at 10am and didn’t appear on the set till 11.25am. Another day she was too ill to work.
Eventually it was deemed that she was responsible for substantial delay in the expensive production and was dismissed and put on suspension.
The film shut down till September of 1949, when Betty Hutton took over the lead.
MGM paid for hospital treatment for Judy including her prescription medication dependence.
She returned to the studio in October 1949 for Summer Stock, and made only one more film at MGM – In The Good Old Summertime.
The role of Annie Oakley seemed perfect for Judy , though Betty Hutton proved to be a good fit for the role.