This week I have another look at new Blu-ray releases from Warner Archive. First up is Judy Garland and Van Johnson in MGM’s 1949 musical “In The Good Old Summertime,” then we have William Powell and Myrna Loy back together again for 1941’s “Shadow of the Thin Man,” the fourth film in the beloved franchise. Both titles were released recently and can be bought from your favorite movie retailer.
The story of two people who fall in love over correspondence, but in reality being acquaintances who detest each other, is one Hollywood has gotten a lot of mileage out of. First appearing in Ernst Lubitsch’s 1940 film “The Shop Around the Corner” with James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan. Then, most recently, with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in 1998’s “You’ve Got Mail.” MGM decided to give the story a musical try-out with “In The Good Old Summertime.”
Backed with a supporting cast including none other than Buster Keaton and an on loan from Warner Brothers S.Z. Sakall, “Summertime” takes place in early 1900s Chicago and the shop in this version is a music store. This is something a jukebox musical, using a variety of songs from the 1900s time frame instead of tunes written for the film, except for the title track.
The movie is pretty faithful to the original story and to the 1940 film with a few passages of dialogue lifted almost verbatim from “Shop Around The Corner.” I’d say a good 30% of the story is unique to this version, to remove some darker elements that wouldn’t fly quite right in a grand old MGM musical. As for the film itself, it’s very well made, a good, fun film that’s sure to be a favorite for fans of MGM Musicals or Judy Garland.
Coming to Blu-ray with a new 2K scan “In The Good Old Summertime” looks fantastic with that amazing Technicolor pallet coming through bright and vivid. The DTS-HD MA mono track sounds clear and sharp as well. Bonus materials are carryovers from the DVD release of the film, an introduction by Garland biographer John Fricke, some trailers, and two vintage Travel talks shorts about Chicago. All in all a good package of a very pleasant film.
Starting towards the end of last year, to now, Warner Archive has brought four of the six Thin Man movies to blu-ray, in sequence with their newest release of “Shadow of the Thin Man.” It’s my hope that we may get the other two installments in the series before Christmas, but if not I suspect we’ll get at least the fifth film before the year is out.