Warner Bros. // 1943 // 104 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // January 1st, 2007
Sing Out the News! It's a Honey of a Show!
Presenting Lily Mars showcases a twenty year-old Judy Garland (The Wizard of Oz) in a light comedy about a girl with show business ambitions. Judy is Lily, a young actress who hounds a talent agent (Van Heflin, Airport) until he has to cast her in his Broadway revue. It was adapted from a more sophisticated book by Booth Tarkington, and made into a light comedy that would fit the rising MGM star's squeaky-clean image. There are some misfires to be found: the entire plot is far too simple, and the musical choice in the finale is questionable. The movie isn't a classic by any stretch, but it floats by so amiably you don't mind. Judy looks young and vibrant, Van Heflin is a good foil, and the numbers are pure MGM musical insanity in both good and bad ways.
The real treasure of the film is Judy Garland. She appears fresh and truly happy on the screen. Her blondish hair looks good, she's thin but not overly so, and the singing voice is super strong. Garland fans will find her performing quite a few numbers, as well as doing some hilarious audition monologues. There's a memorable mangling of Lady MacBeth's famous solo speech which the actress pulls off easily. Her trademark mannerisms work for the quirky overly happy Hoosier she's playing. It's easy to see why MGM was banking on her to pull the country out of the funk of 1943.
Warner Brothers offers this title up on a surprisingly well loaded DVD. Not only are there outtakes of the finale, but also a short film and cartoon that ran with the feature back in the day. A radio adaptation of the story with Van Heflin and June Allyson instead of Garland is presented as well, and the vintage trailer rounds out the robust package. The transfer is clean even if some scratches and pops mar the movie now and then. Especially troubling are transitions, which seem rough from scene to scene. Still, the DVD delivers where it counts on the main musical numbers, which look fine. The black and white presentation has depth and looks good for its age. Sound is delivered in the original mono.
Judy Garland fans will snatch this one up, and Presenting Lily Mars is a no-brainer for aficionados of the star. The rest of the world will find this fluffy and forgettable, but a nice distraction for an hour and forty minutes. The real reason to check the title out is the rare chance to see Garland unaffected by drugs or studio manipulation. She was exactly like the movie -- silly and in a good mood throughout. They don't make them like this anymore, and Garland is the perfect star to elevate the paper thin plot. It's not a true classic, but nobody's going to dispute Presenting Lily Mars a fun look at a unique woman before she started falling into the gaping maw of studio Hollywood.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 104 Minutes
Release Year: 1943
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Short Heavenly Music
* Classic Cartoon Who Killed Who?
* Audio Outtake "Paging Mr. Greenbacks"
* Alternate Version of Finale Song "Where There's Music/Broadway Rhythm"
* Stereo Alternate Version of "Where There's Music"
* Radio Show Adaptation of the Movie
* Original Theatrical Trailer