Presenting Judy Garland! Whether swinging a hot number with Bob Crosby's orchestra or emoting a hilariously hammy version of Lady Macbeth's sleepwalking scene, Judy is a delight as a stage-struck Hoosier in this charming film based on Booth Tarkington's novel. Lily just knows she has the talent to light up the Great White Way, so when a big Broadway producer (Van Heflin) visits her hometown, she expends all the candlepower of her charisma to impress him. He's not impressed. He heads back to New York and Lily follows, thumbing her way east on what she's sure is a one-way trip to instant stardom. At a mere 20 years old, Judy had already reached stardom. Presenting Lily Mars proves why, showcasing her once-in-a-generation voice, gift for comedy and enduring movie magnetism. Break a leg, Lily!
Judy Garland is at the peak of her charm and appeal as the title character of Presenting Lily Mars
. The 19-year-old aspiring actress has great hopes for the future but can't seem to catch a break even when a Broadway producer (Van Heflin) returns to her small Indiana town for a family visit. Undeterred, she follows him to New York and earns a small part and a romance is sparked, but when the leading role unexpectedly opens up, will the talented youngster be ready? Presenting Lily Mars
was released in 1943, the same year Garland would do her last collaboration with Mickey Rooney (Girl Crazy
) and between her first significant adult roles, For Me and My Gal
(1942) and Meet Me in St. Louis
(1944). What the movie doesn't have is a lot of great music. Many of the songs are performed by other people, and while the few numbers Garland sings are gold, the songs themselves can't match the Gershwin and Arlen standards in many of her other films. The most notable is Brown & Freed's "Broadway Rhythm," which everyone should recognize from Singin' in the Rain
--it's a rousing closer by Garland backed by Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra. With Marta Eggerth as Garland's operatic rival, and future jazz singer Annie Ross as Garland's singing and piano-playing younger sister. --David Horiuchi