FILM TITLE

STUDIO:  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

PRODUCTION NUMBER:  1020

PRODUCTION DATES:  August 1937 – January 1938

PRODUCTION COST:   $795,000

RUNNING TIME:  91 minutes

RELEASE DATE:  January 24, 1938

INITIAL BOX OFFICE:  $1,003,000

Judy Garland in "Everybody Sing"Among its many delights, Everybody Sing features Judy Garland’s first big movie role. This was her fourth feature film and the first in which she is the main character and the first in which the plot centers around her. It’s still a “B” musical but it’s an MGM “B” musical meaning that it, like so many others made at the studio at this time, is comparable to many “A” films from other studios. Part of what makes this film so delightful is the cast. It’s full of supremely talented MGM contract players.

Judy is given excellent support from the rest of the cast, including the fabulous Fanny Brice, crooner Allan Jones, future “Glinda” Billie Burke, Reginald Owen, and Lynne Carver as Judy’s older sister.  Everybody Sing is a great example of the typical 1930s zany screwball comedy but this time it’s all wrapped up in a wonderful musical package.  And everyone does sing!  So much so that at one point it seems as though everyone with a speaking part will break out into song.  But it works, and doesn’t get tiresome thanks to the plot device of Judy’s showbiz family and everyone else in the family’s orbit being scatterbrained eccentrics.

Everybody Sing went into production as The Ugly Duckling, and Swing Fever, the former of which probably didn’t do much for Judy’s self confidence and self image. Luckily, the title was changed to Everybody Sing although there are still references in the script to Judy’s character being an “ugly duckling.”  She had a tendency to easily put on weight and with the camera adding pounds anyway, she was trapped in a constant struggle with the studio to keep her weight down. It didn’t help matters that MGM was famous for its glamour, especially its leading ladies, and although Judy was cute the studio seemed at a loss as to how to best present her. She obviously wasn’t a budding glamour girl so that route couldn’t be taken. MGM decided to go the “little miss fix-it” image with a dash of “hep.” The “hep” was provided by Judy’s voice which could swing with the best of them. And swing Judy does in Everybody Sing. We first see her character, Judy Bellaire, getting into trouble at her girls school for breaking into a swinging riff on Mendelssohn (“Swing Mr. Mendelssohn”). She promptly gets kicked out.  Her character’s subsequent struggles with her zany family and trying to prove herself every bit the performer they are provides the crux of the plot.

Allan Jones was the “big star” of the film, with Judy billed second, but they equally shared the bulk of the songs in Everybody Sing.  The result is that Judy easily stole the show (that’s no reflection on Jones’ considerable talents).  Fanny Brice is given the best screen time of her lauded career with a comedic solo and a duet with Judy, “Why? Because!” performed as her wildly popular radio and stage character Baby Snooks.  This is the only time that Brice played her signature character on screen.  She and Judy are magic together.  The fact that Judy could hold her own with Brice (and the rest of the seasoned cast) at this young of an age (Judy was 15 at the time) is amazing and something the critics at the time made note of.  

Allan Jones, naturally, gets his chance to shine as well with his good looks and leading man tenor voice.  It’s been noted before but it bears repeating here: In hindsight it’s fascinating to watch Judy with Jones and Brice knowing that her career would become so all encompassing as to come full circle in the early 1960s when she had Jones’s son, Jack Jones (also a crooner) on her TV series as well as Barbra Streisand who would go on to famously play Brice in Funny Girl (1968).  

Everybody Sing is by far the best of Judy’s pre-Wizard of Oz films.  By this point, MGM was obviously grooming Judy for stardom (the ads for Everybody Sing touted that prediction) partly because of her upcoming role in the very risk and expensive Wizard of Oz and partly because the studio finally realized that what they had in Judy Garland was someone who was truly unique and special.  And that means, of course, great box office if handled correctly.  Which they did!

Judy Garland in "Everybody Sing" - Newspaper promoTIMELINE:

  • August 26, 1937:  Judy’s first noted work on Everybody Sing was a recording session at which she pre-recorded “Swing, Mr. Mendelson.”  At this point, Judy was working on Everybody Sing and Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry concurrently.
  • October 4, 1937:  Judy pre-recorded “Down On Melody Farm.”
  • November 19, 1937:  Publicity photos were taken featuring Judy with Allan Jones and Fanny Brice.
  • December 13, 1937:  A long day of pre-recording the finale sequence including Judy’s “Shall I Sing A Melody?” solo.
  • Judy and Fanny Brice filmed the “Why? Because!” number which was recorded live on the set.  The Daily Music Report for this date notes that ten takes were “printed” (kept for use in the film).  It’s unclear if this report reflects pre-recordings made at the MGM recording stage or if it reflects the on-set performances.
  • Early January, 1938:  Judy finished her work on the film.
  • January 24, 1938:  Judy and entourage (including her mother and musical mentor Roger Edens) arrived in Miami, Florida, for the world premiere of Everybody Sing that night at the Sheridan theater.  This was the start of her first personal appearance tour for MGM as well as her first appearance on a New York stage (on February 10th).  Judy performed an average of two or three shows a day between showings of the film.  The extensive tour took Judy from Miami to:
    • February 7, 1938:  Judy arrived in New York for the NYC premiere of Everybody Sing on February 10th.
    • February 13, 1938:  Also on this date, Judy wowed the crowds at New York’s “Casa Manana” nightclub.  She was a big enough sensation that columnist Walter Winchell mentioned the event in his column published a few days later which included a photo.  Judy’s star was definitely on the rise!
    • February 25, 1938:  Appearance in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
    • March 4, 1938:  Judy was in Columbus, Ohio, on the 4th & 5th and was named named the “Sweetheart of Sigma Chi” while there.  The event was photographed by, and published in, “Life” magazine.
    • March 15, 1938:  Judy was in Chicago, Illinois.  She and her mother stayed at The Palmer House.
    • Late March, 1938:  The tour went to Detroit, Michigan.
    • March 29, 1938:  The final leg of the tour.  The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Judy traveled through Minneapolis from Chicago on her way to Grand Rapids.  Judy, her mom, and Roger Edens took the Hiawatha train from Chicago to Minneapolis on March 30th.  The train trip took 7 hours, necessitating an overnight stay in Minneapolis.  A subsequent notice reported that although Judy’s didn’t make any personal appearances during her one night stay in in the city, she did meet with fans outside of her hotel.  Judy traveled to Grand Rapids on the morning of April 1, 1938.  It was her last time she ever returned to her birthplace.
    • April 2, 1938:  The tour ended.  Judy and entourage left on the Super Chief train out of Chicago headed back to California.
    • April 4, 1938:  The Super Chief stopped in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  The “Albuquerque Journal” reported that Judy stepped off the train to stretch her legs and purchase a postage stamp.

FACTOIDS:

  • This is the only time Judy shared the screen with Fanny Brice, although they appeared together on a few radio shows in the late 1930s.
  • As noted, Judy sang with Jones’s song, Jack Jones, on her TV series in 1963.
  • Everybody Sing premiered in Miami, Florida, on XXX.  The premiere marked the first stop on an extensive multi-city personal appearance tour for Judy in connection with the film.  It was Judy’s first big promotional tour for MGM and with her musical mentor Roger Edens by her side, she was able to display her vaudeville roots and hone her stage skills in front of packed houses garnering stellar reviews.  It was a foretaste of her later legendary “Concert Years.”
  • Everybody Sing succeeded in making Judy Garland a star but she wasn’t officially elevated to “star” status at MGM until later in 1938 while she was filming The Wizard of Oz.  In spite of the fact that MGM didn’t know what do with, or how to handle the career of, Judy Garland, it only took them three years to make her a star.
  • For a time Judy was working on both Everybody Sing and Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry (released in 1937), as well as keeping up with her weekly radio appearances and recording singles for Decca Records.

CAST:

Jones as Ricky Saboni

Judy Garland as Judy Bellaire

Fanny Brice as Olga Chekaloff

Reginald Owen as Hillary Bellaire

Billie Burke as Diana Bellaire

Reginald Gardiner as Jerrold Hope

Lynne Carver as Sylvia Bellaire

Helen Troy as Hillary’s Secretary

Monty Woolley as John Fleming

Adia Kuznetzoff as Boris

Henry Armetta as Signor Vittorino

Michellette Burani as Madame Le Brouchette

Mary Forbes as Miss Colvin

Elise Cavanna as Music Teacher

Edgar Dearing as Policeman at Desk

George Guhl as Policeman

Ethan Laidlaw as Policeman

Andrew Tombes as Gary Society Man

Alphonse Martell as Headwaiter at Cafe Nappo

James Donlan as Stage Doorman

St. Brendan’s Boys Choir Directed by Robert Mitchell, Vocals

Mildred Rogers, Singing voice of Lynne Carver

CREW:

Produced by: Harry Rapf

Directed by: Edwin L. Marin

Original Story and Screen Play by: Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf

Additional Dialogue by: James Gruen

Musical Program: “The One I Love,” “Down on Melody Farm,” “Swing Mr. Mendelssohn,” “Show Must Go On” Lyrics by Gus Kahn, Music by Kaper and Jurmann

Musical Interpolations and Vocal

Arrangements by: Roger Edens

“Quainty, Dainty Me” (staged by Seymour Felix), “Snooks” (“Why? Because!”) Music and lyrics by Kalmar and Ruby

Musical Direction: Dr. William Axt

Associate Conductor: Georgie Stoll

Orchestrations by: George Bassman

Musical Numbers Staged by: Dave Gould

Art Director: Cedric Gibbons

Associates: Harry McAfee, Edwin B. Willis

Recording Director: Douglas Shearer

Photographed by: Joseph Ruttenberg

Film Editor: William S. Gray

SONGS:

Swing Mr. Mendelssohn
(Judy Garland and the St. Brendan’s Boys Choir dubbing for school girls)

The One I Love
(Allan Jones and MIldred Rogers for Lynne Carver)

The First Thing In The Morning 
(Allan Jones)

Cosi Cosa
(Allan Jones)

(Down On) Melody Farm
(Judy Garland)

Bus Sequence (Down On Melody Farm)
(Judy Garland, Allan Jones, Reginald Gardiner, Mildred Rogers for Lynne Carver, and Adia Kuznetzoff)

Audition sequence
(unidentified actors)

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
(Judy Garland)

The One I Love
(Allan Jones)

Quainty Dainty Me
(Fanny Brice)

The Show Must Go On
(Allan Jones and Chorus)

Why? Because!
(Judy Garland and Fanny Brice)

Ever Since the World Began / Shall I Sing a Melody?
(Judy Garland)

Finale: reprises of “The Show Must Go On” / “The One I Love” / “Quainty Dainty Me” / “Down on Melody Farm”
(The Company)

Daily Music Reports

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