THOROUGHBREDS DON’T CRY

STUDIO:  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

PRODUCTION NUMBER:  1022

PRODUCTION DATES:  August & September 1937

PRODUCTION COST:   $503,000

RUNNING TIME:  80 minutes

RELEASE DATE:  November 25, 1937

INITIAL BOX OFFICE:  $731,000 

Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry is the kind of little “B movie” that MGM excelled at making.  It doesn’t feature any of MGM’s big stars of the time (Judy wasn’t a star yet) but instead, and much like the other B movies, it gives the studio’s stock players a chance to shine.  These B movies were also training grounds for up and coming talents, allowing the studio to test out new and/or young contract player to see how they perform and, more importantly, to find out if the critics and public approve.  The larger percentage of MGM’s great stars cut their teeth on these B movies.

At this point, Judy was no different than any other young, new talent at the studio.  In fact, through no fault of her own, Judy’s situation created a bit of a dilemma for MGM.  As has been noted in all of the biographies about her, Judy’s big adult voice coupled with her adolescent awkwardness was a combination that puzzled MGM.  She wasn’t a budding sexpot (like Lana Turner), she wasn’t a cutesy child (like Shirley Temple).  She wasn’t even considered “pretty” like her contemporary, Deanna Durbin.  But, she had a voice that couldn’t be denied.  Now, not everyone at the studio was perplexed.  The musical folks like her mentor Roger Edens, knew and recognized her talent and potential.  Judy had not just a naturally gifted genius for singing, she was also a natural at acting, dancing, and even comedy.  Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry was the right film at this point in her career to further Judy’s experience in front of the camera and her exposure to audiences.

Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry is also notable as the first of the ten films Judy appeared in with Mickey Rooney.  All ten of those made at MGM.  Mickey was the biggest of the film’s stars at this point (excepting veteran legend Sophie Tucker), having been proving himself as a super-talented teen in seemingly every movie on the lot that required a kid his age.  He and Judy were natural together.  Their chemistry was undeniable.  They were already friends.  They had previously met before Judy was signed by the studio, while she was still in Vaudeville.  Ronald Sinclair was an alternative to the studio’s reigning British teen star, Freddie Bartholomew.  Bartholomew had the niche of being the idealized version of the proper English young man (and child) in such big budget costume dramas like David Copperfield and Anna Karenina.  It was planned to have Bartholomew in the Sinclair role but as Judy liked to joke decades later, “Freddie’s VOICE was changing.”

Judy pre-recorded two songs for the film, “Got A Pair of New Shoes” and “Sun Showers,” the latter was cut from the film at it was how and although the pre-recordings survive, the film does not.  Musically, the film isn’t much of a stretch for Judy but as noted, she gained more in general filmmaking experience than in testing her vocal abilities.  Audiences and critics enjoyed the film even though they noted the thin plot which wasn’t anything more or less than they expected.  Judy was singled out for praise as was Mickey.  The time was right and Judy was ready for MGM to give her a chance to shine in a film centered around her and her talents, which she got with her next assignment, Everybody Sing.

TIMELINE (there isn’t much extant data pertaining to the particulars of the short production schedule):

  • Early August 1937:  Judy began work on the film.
  • August through October:  Judy was working on both Thoroughbreds and Everybody Sing.  The latter’s production continued after filming on Thoroughbreds ended.
  • September 11, 1937:  Judy pre-recorded “Sun showers.”
  • September 20, 1937:  Judy pre-recorded “Got A Pair Of New Shoes.”
  • October 24, 1937:  Judy pre-recorded the finale version of “Got A Pair Of New Shoes” with Mickey Rooney and Ronald Sinclair.

CAST:

Judy Garland as Cricket West
Mickey Rooney as Timmy Donovan
Sophie Tucker as Mother Ralph
C. Aubrey Smith as Sir Peter Calverton
Ronald Sinclair as Roger Calverton
Forrester Harvey as Wilkins
Charles D. Brown as “Click” Donovan
Frankie Darro as “Dink” Reid
Henry Kolker as “Doc” Godfrey
Helen Troy as Hilda

CREW:

Produced by: Harry Rapf
Directed by: Alfred E. Green
Screenplay by: Lawrence Hazard, from an original story by Eleanore Griffin and J. Walter Ruben
Music and lyrics by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed
Photography: Leonard Smith
Editor: Elmo Vernon

SONGS:

Got a Pair of New Shoes
(Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Ronald Sinclair)

OUTTAKE:
Sun Showers
(Judy Garland)

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