A Date with Judy

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The big high school dance in Santa Barbara is coming up. Judy Foster (Jane Powell) expects boyfriend “Oogie” Pringle to be her escort, but he declines. Meanwhile, Oogie’s sister, sophisticated senior Carol Pringle (Elizabeth Taylor), has booked famous bandleader Xavier Cugat and his orchestra for the dance.

Cugat’s lady friend, Rosita Cochellas (Carmen Miranda), is a dance instructor. She is secretly giving rumba lessons to Judy’s dad, Melvin Foster (Wallace Beery), who wants to surprise his wife with a dance for their upcoming wedding anniversary.

Soda shop owner Pop Scully (Lloyd Corrigan) introduces a disappointed Judy to his handsome nephew Stephen I. Andrews (Robert Stack), who volunteers to take Judy to the dance, even though he’s considerably older. Judy finds him dreamy, and having Stephen as her date definitely makes Oogie jealous.

Stephen, however, falls for the beautiful Carol instead. This is annoying to Judy, as is her discovery that her dad is seeing Rosita behind her mother’s back, presumably carrying on a romantic affair. Misunderstandings abound, including Rosita trying to explain the situation to her boyfriend, Cugat.

REVIEW:

Contrary too popular belief, A Date with Judy is not about scoring a date with Judy Garland, though she was quite popular at this time, I believe. This forgotten treasure of classic cinema is sure to take you back to your high school years and the fears of asking out and/or being rejected by the guy/girl you liked.

What is this about?

Teenage best pals Judy (Jane Powell) and Carol (Elizabeth Taylor) find their friendship put to the test when they both fall for the same suave fellow (Robert Stack) in this breezy musical comedy. Meanwhile, Judy’s on a sleuthing mission to find out if her father (Wallace Beery) is having an affair with a gorgeous rumba dancer (Carmen Miranda).

What did I like?

Music, maestro, please. I swear I grew up in the wrong era! This film has a student conducted jazz band performing at the dance. You have no idea what I would have given to have done something like that back in my day…with or without a lovestruck vocalist. Of course, if memory serves, our dances were all done by a dj anyway, so live music, especially big band stuff, was out of the question. Still, the idea is in my head now and thoughts of what could have been are sure to run rampant.

Betty. My God! Elizabeth Taylor was gorgeous, wasn’t she? This is one of her earliest films, and she is quite young, but that beauty is well on display. Aside from her Venus-like beauty, Taylor doesn’t do too bad as the antagonist, if you will, of this film. The first time we see here, she’s decked out in the blue ball gown, and all I could think of is how much she looks like a porcelain version of Betty Rubble.

Seamless. The majority of the film focuses on the kids, no doubt, but the adults are not forgotten, either. As a matter of fact, there is even a subplot involving the parents’ anniversary which brings everything back around full circle, giving each character a story arc of their own, rather than just be some random character that happens to exist.

What didn’t I like?

Length. A common problem have with these classic musicals, especially the more comedic ones is that they tend to be a bit too long. I feel as if this film would have greatly benefited from a shorter runtime, as there were moments all over the place that could have easily been taken out and no one would know the difference.

Cugat. Xavier Cugat was quite the entertaining bandleader of the time. He is responsible for mentoring Desi Arnaz and became the joke of quite a few of episodes of I Love Lucy, I’m not really a fan of how he was used as a cameo at the end of the film to give Carmen Miranda’s character a love interest. Why couldn’t he just be Cugat and lead his band? It worked for Harry James in Bathing Beauty, so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.

Powell. Jane Powell may have been the cute girl next door, but I wasn’t impressed with her and wasn’t a fan of her character. To me, she came off quite fickle, and it is no wonder she ended the film the way she did. I can make a case for getting someone else, but there is some reason they chose her.

A Date with Judy is ok, but not great. It is worth watching for the music and the porcelain beauty of Elizabeth Taylor. I don’t have much to say about this other than that, so give it a shot if you get the chance, but don’t feel as if you need to.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

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