Presenting Lily Mars starring Judy Garland

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In November of 1942, 20-year-old Judy Garland began pre-production work on Presenting Lily Mars (1943), a slight "little film" that, although not well known to the general public as one of Judy Garland's big hits, is notable for several reasons:

Judy Garland and Van Heflin in "Presenting Lily Mars"1) Lily Mars was a major step in Judy's successful transition to adult roles from adolescent roles.

2) Lily Mars was Judy's first teaming with producer Joe Pasternak and with future director Charles Walters.

3) Lily Mars was the first time that MGM would give Judy the "glamour treatment."

4) It's a fun, infectious film!

Based on a novel by Booth Tarkington, Presenting Lily Mars is the story of stage-struck small-town girl Lily Mars.  When Broadway producer (and local boy) John Thornway (Van Heflin) comes to town to visit family and also show off his current hit, Lily sees this as her big chance to impress him with her talent.  She doesn't succeed. He thinks she's a pest. Lily then decides to follow him to New York and sneaks into his theater during rehearsals for his new show.  John finally begins to see something in Lily, and when the diva of his show, Isobel Rekay (played by Marta Eggerth) becomes jealous and walks out, John turns to Lily to quickly learn the show for the opening.  In an interesting twist from the normal "star walks out, unknown becomes star" scenario, Isobel comes back just as John realizes that this role is all wrong for Lily.  Ever the trouper, Lily agrees to taking back her two-line walk-on role, realizing that her time as a star will come.  The film ends with Lily's big debut as the star of her own show.

Judy began work on Presenting Lily Mars while finishing the filming of For Me And My Gal (1942) during the fall of 1942.  During that same time period she recorded and filmed her solo guest spot in Thousands Cheer (1943) singing "The Joint Is Really Jumpin' Down At Carnegie Hall."  Lily Mars had originally been slated as a drama to star Lana Turner.  However, "Smart Ol' Joe Pasternak" (as Esther Williams would later call him) had just come to MGM from producing a successful series of musicals at Universal Studios starring Deanna Durbin (Judy's chief "rival" during the early days at MGM), and he saw the story as a chance to finally work with Judy.  In fact, Presenting Lily Mars is just the kind of film one would expect Deanna Durbin to star in.

Pasternak loved working with Judy Garland.  Back in 1937 Deanna Durbin shot to stardom with Three Smart Girls, a Pasternak production originally meant for Judy as the star.  When MGM wouldn't loan Judy to Universal Studios, Deanna got the part.  Now, 6 years later, Pasternak got his chance. Presenting Lily Mars would be the beginning of a long career at MGM for Pasternak.  His films would only be rivaled by the super-musicals of "The Freed Unit", also at MGM. Judy Garland portrait at MGMBoth Pasternak and Freed would become the two preeminent producers on the MGM Lot.  So much so that years later, contract dancer Dorothy Raye would remark, "..and we just shuffled between the two."  Pasternak came to Judy's aid several years later, as she was having personal and professional difficulties, and would help restore her confidence, with In The Good Old Summertime (1949) and Summer Stock (1950 - Judy's last MGM film).

Filming Lily Mars went along without any problems.  Judy was happy and healthy, and at a perfect weight, having gained back some of the weight lost during For Me And My Gal.  Filming was completed by November 3, 1942, when Judy had a sitting in the MGM portrait studio, having some of the loveliest photos ever taken of her.

The only issue anyone had once the film was finished was the original finale, "Paging Mr. Greenback," was a topical and appropriately patriotic song, with Judy performing the number with chorus in front of the "U.S. Capitol Building" backdrop first used for Babes In Arms.  Everyone involved at the studio agreed that not only did the number (as good as it was) fail to sufficiently show the Lily Mars character as a new Broadway sensation, but it was also below par for Judy.  Judy was now becomming MGM's biggest female musical star.  She was on the fast track to becoming one of the few child stars to successfully make the transition to adult stardom.  Those around Judy pointed out that, in its present state, Lily Mars was a little beneath what audiences had come to expect from a Judy Garland musical.  Judy went to L.B. Mayer, and he brought in Pasternak and told him to shoot a new finale in the MGM style.  Pasternak enlisted the help of the burgeoning "Freed Unit" (so named after producer Arthur Freed). Pasternak felt that the new ending was too "big" for a little musical such as this.  But, he didn't want to let Judy or the studio down and filmed the ending you see now.

On February 20, 1943, while in the middle of production on Girl Crazy (1943) Judy was in rehearsals for the new Lily Mars "big finale."   Musical arranger Roger Edens and crew devised a big 10 minute finale covering all forms of popular music.  It would be edited down to approximately 5 minutes for the final release.  Tommy Dorsey, at the studio filming Girl Crazy with Mickey Rooney and Judy, was employed to accompany Judy in the "Broadway Rhythm" finale to the finale.  As was Charles Walters.   He had just come to the studio from Broadway as a dancer, but the studio felt he would be better behind the scenes.   He danced with Judy here, and also in Girl Crazy.   He would become one of the studios top musical directors, directing the Garland/Astaire mega-hit Easter Parade (1948).

Kapralik artwork for "Presenting Lily Mars" starring Judy Garland and Van HeflinBy March 16, 1943, Lily Mars was completed and released the following month to glowing reviews.  Judy had really blossomed in Lily Mars.  For the first time, the studio presented her in the same glamorous way they would for Lana Turner or Hedy Lamarr.  As with For Me And My Gal (1942) she had a leading man who was NOT an adolescent.

The new finale really showcased the new "adult" Garland, with her hair up and wearing a glamorous dress (see picture above, left).  Judy was at the crest of a "Golden Period" for her at MGM both professionally and personally. A period which would reach its peak with Meet Me In St. Louis (1944), The Clock (1945), and The Harvey Girls (1946) and culminate with the birth of her first child in 1947, Liza Minnelli.

In Lily Mars, Judy is more than just beautiful, she gives one of her best light comedic performances.  Judy is known primarily as a singer/actress but what most people don't realize is that she was an exceptional comedienne.  MGM would notice this too.  Chronologically, each film she made had more and more comedy elements added.  Judy was a master at "self-deprecating humor" - as evidenced in films such as In The Good Old Summertime (1949) and The Pirate (1948).  She was this way in her personal life as well, always being able to see the absurdity and humor of most situations - and being able to make everyone laugh.

Lily Mars is vintage MGM: A nice story with talented stars (Van Heflin would win a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1943 for his performance in the 1942 film Johnny Eager), talented and dependable supporting players (Annabelle Logan who played Lily Mars' sister Rosie, would go on to be the popular jazz singer Annie Ross), and expert MGM production values all coming together to make an enduring film for all ages to enjoy. "They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To" - but don't you think they should??

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Judy Garland Costume Test
Presenting Lily Mars Laser Disc
Costume Test
Click on any of the pics above to to see the gallery of photos and media.

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Ziegfeld Girl - Presenting Lily Mars Soundtrack Album

The complete soundtrack is now available for download!


Tracks featuring Judy Garland noted
with blue text.
* Stereo
** Partial Stereo

Performed by...
Part One - Ziegfeld Girl
Overture MGM Studio Orchestra
Laugh? I Thought I'd Split My Sides Judy Garland & Charles Winninger
You Stepped Out Of A Dream ** Tony Martin & The MGM Studio Chorus
Whispering Bill Days, John Rarig & Max Smith
I'm Always Chasing Rainbows (Rehearsal) Judy Garland & Charles Winninger
I'm Always Chasing Rainbows (Audition) Judy Garland
I'm Always Chasing Rainbows (Ballad) Judy Garland
Caribbean Love Song Tony Martin, dance by Antonio & Rosario 7:35
Minnie From Trinidad Judy Garland & The MGM Studio Chorus
Mr. Gallagher & Mr. Shean Charles Winninger & Al Shean
Finale Judy Garland, Tony Martin & The MGM Studio Chorus
Original Finale (Part 1) Judy Garland, Tony Martin & The MGM Studio Chorus
Too Beautiful To Last (Demo Recording) Tony Martin, with Roger Edens at piano
Pre-Recording Sessions
You Stepped Out Of A Dream (False Starts) Tony Martin
You Stepped Out Of A Dream (Alternate Stereo) * Tony Martin & The MGM Studio Chorus
I'm Always Chasing Rainbows (Audition Take 3) Judy Garland
I'm Always Chasing Rainbows (Audition Take 4) Judy Garland
I'm Always Chasing Rainbows (Ballad Take 4) Judy Garland
I'm Always Chasing Rainbows (Ballad Take 5) Judy Garland
I'm Always Chasing Rainbows (Ballad Take 6) Judy Garland
I'm Always Chasing Rainbows (Ballad Take 7) Judy Garland
Minnie From Trinidad (Alternate Take Stereo) * Judy Garland & The MGM Studio Chorus
Deleted Finale Reprise Judy Garland, Tony Martin & The MGM Studio Chorus
Deleted Finale Reprise (Takes 1 & 2) Judy Garland, Tony Martin & The MGM Studio Chorus
Deleted Finale Reprise (Takes 3) Judy Garland, Tony Martin & The MGM Studio Chorus
Deleted Finale Reprise (Take 4) Judy Garland, Tony Martin & The MGM Studio Chorus
Deleted Finale Reprise (Takes 5 & 6) Judy Garland, Tony Martin & The MGM Studio Chorus
Minnie From Trinidad (Remastered Film Version) Judy Garland & The MGM Studio Chorus
Leo Is On The Air (MGM Radio Promo Record) Judy Garland, Tony Martin, Roger Edens
Part Two - Presenting Lily Mars
Overture The MGM Studio Orchestra
Lady Macbeth Judy Garland, Annabelle Logan, Van Heflin
The Gypsy In Me Marta Eggerth
Tom, Tom The Piper's Son Judy Garland
Love Is In The Air Judy Garland & The MGM Studio Chorus
Ev'ry Little Movement Has A Meaning Of Its Own * Judy Garland & Mary Kent (for Connie Gilchrist)
When I Look At You Marta Eggerth
When You Think Of Lovin' Bob Crosby & His Orchestra, The Wilde Twins
When I Look At You * Judy Garland
When I Look At You (Comedy Version aka Caro Mono) * Judy Garland
A Russian Rhapsody Judy Garland
A Russian Rhapsody Marta Eggerth & The MGM Studio Chorus
Finale (Film Version) * Judy Garland, Charles Walters, Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra, The MGM Studio Chorus
Pagin Mr. Greenback (Outtake) * Judy Garland & The MGM Studio Chorus
Pre-Recording Sessions
When I Look At You (Take 10) * Judy Garland
When I Look At You (Tag - Take 9) * Judy Garland
When I Look At You (Tag - Take 10) * Judy Garland
Ev'ry Little Movement Has A Meaning Of Its Own * Judy Garland & Mary Kent (for Connie Gilchrist)
Finale Part 1 * Judy Garland & The MGM Studio Chorus
Finale Part 2 * Judy Garland & The MGM Studio Chorus
Finale Part 3 * Judy Garland & The MGM Studio Chorus
Finale Part 4 * Judy Garland & The MGM Studio Chorus
Finale Part 5 * Judy Garland & The MGM Studio Chorus
Finale Part 6 * Judy Garland, Charles Walters, Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra, The MGM Studio Chorus
Finale Part 6 (Pick-up) * Judy Garland & The MGM Studio Chorus
Finale (Complete Version) * Judy Garland, Charles Walters, Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra, The MGM Studio Chorus


Mid June 1942
Preproduction work begins on Presenting Lily Mars
Judy is still working on For Me And My Gal, and records the following "Finale" retakes (at the MGM Recording Studio) of "When Johnny comes Marching Home Again" and "For Me And My Gal"
Mid to late July 1942
Preproduction work (including wardrobe, hair & makeup tests, and dance rehearsals) continue for Lily Mars
Judy records "Tom, Tom, The Piper's Son" and "Every Little Movement"
Judy completes filming on For Me And My Gal
Aug - Sep 1942
Lily Mars is in production
Judy records "When I Look At You" (both the ballad and comedy versions)
Judy & chorus records "Paging Mr. Greenback"
Early Nov 1942
Production is completed for Lily Mars
Glamour portrait sitting for Lily Mars (see the Photo Gallery)
November 1942 - February 1943
Judy is filming Girl Crazy as well as (briefly) Thousands Cheer
02/20/42 - 03/03/43
Judy is in rehearsals for the new finale for Presenting Lily Mars
Judy records "Broadway Rhythm" for the Lily Mars new finale. At the MGM Recording Studio.
Judy & Chorus record "Where There's Music"
03/06/43 - 03/16/43
Judy is filming the new Lily Mars finale ("Where There's Music")
Final shooting day for Lily Mars
Presenting Lily Mars is released

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WHAT THE CRITICS SAID:Presenting Lily Mars three sheet poster

"Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which dotes on young Judy Garland, is again having her show off her best points ... Miss Garland is fresh and pretty, she has a perky friendliness that is completely disarming, and she sings and dances according to the mood - sometimes raucous jive, sometimes sweet little ballads that turn out to be quite enchanting. No doubt about it, Miss Garland is a gifted young lady."
    - The New York Times, April 30, 1943

Presenting Lily Mars is a conventional screen version of 73-year-old Booth Tarkington's tale of a stage-struck small-town girl. This juvenile darling (Judy Garland) gets to Broadway before you can say Jake Shubert, marries a great producer (Van Heflin) and is soon seen swaying in black tulle in a super-sumptuous musical show staged by the lucky fellow.
    - Time Magazine

Songs are about equally divided between Judy Garland and Marta Eggerth, with both putting over respective numbers in scintillating fashion.
    - Variety, April 27, 1943

Judy grows better and better, and this picture registers a new high in performance and charm. She exhibits a dancing talent that is delightful in its grace and poise.
    - The Motion Picture Herald

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Produced by: Joseph Pasternak
Directed by: Norman Taurog
Screenplay by: Richard Connell and Gladys Lehman (based on the novel by Booth Tarkington)
Songs by: Walter Jurmann, Paul Francis Webster, E.Y. Harburg, Burton Lane, and Roger Edens
Musical adaptation: Roger Edens
Presenting Lily Mars on DVDMusic direction: Georgie Stoll
Dance direction: Ernst Matray
Photography: Joseph Ruttenberg
Editor: Albert Akst
Art direction: Cedric Gibbons
Filmed: September 1942 - March 1943
Released: April 2, 1943


Judy Garland ... Lily Mars
Van Heflin ... John ("Thorny") Thornway
Fay Bainter ... Mrs. Thornway
Richard Carlson ... Owen Vail
Spring Byington ... Mrs. Mars
Marta Eggerth ... Isobel Rekay
Connie Gilchrist ... Frankie
Leonid Kinskey ... Leo
Patricia Barker ... Poppy
Janet Chapman ... Violet
Annabelle Logan ... Rosie
Douglas Croft ... Davey
Ray McDonald ... Charlie Potter
Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra ... Themselves
Bob Crosby and His Orchestra ... Themselves
The Wilde Twins ... Themselves
Charles Walters ... Specialty Dancer (Judy's dance partner in finale)
Joe Yule (Mickey Rooney's real life father) ... Mike, the stage doorman

A special note of thanks to MIchael Siewert and the late Eric Hemphill for providing many rare items for these pages. Thanks guys!!!

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