In the Good Old Summertime

In the Good Old Summertime is a 1949 American Technicolor musical film directed by Robert Z. Leonard. It stars Judy Garland, Van Johnson, and S.Z. Sakall. The film is a musical adaptation of the 1940 film, The Shop Around the Corner, directed by Ernst Lubitsch, and starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan, and written by Miklós László based on his 1937 play Parfumerie. For the film, the locale has been changed from 1930s Budapest to turn-of-the-century Chicago, but the plot remains the same.

In the Good Old Summertime
Directed byRobert Z. Leonard
Buster Keaton (uncredited)
Produced byJoe Pasternak
Written byMiklos Laszlo (play)
Screenplay bySamson Raphaelson
Albert Hackett
Frances Goodrich
Ivan Tors
Buster Keaton (uncredited)
Based onParfumerie (1937 play)
StarringJudy Garland
Van Johnson
S. Z. Sakall
Spring Byington
Clinton Sundberg
Buster Keaton
Liza Minnelli
Music byFred Spielman
George Evans
Betti O'Dell
George E. Stoll
Jimmy Wakely
Robert Van Eps
CinematographyHarry Stradling Sr.
Edited byAdrienne Fazan
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • July 29, 1949 (1949-07-29)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$3,534,000[1]


Veronica Fisher (Judy Garland) enters Oberkugen's music shop, looking for work. Although Otto Oberkugen (S. Z. Sakall) is reluctant to take on more staff, she wins a job by persuading a wealthy matron, through her singing and musical expertise, to buy a harp at almost $25 over Oberkugen's list price. Neither she nor Andrew Larkin (Van Johnson), the shop's senior salesman, suspects that they are each other's anonymous pen pal. They bicker constantly at work despite becoming increasingly attracted to each other.




Garland introduced the Christmas song "Merry Christmas" in this film; it was later covered by Johnny Mathis, Bette Midler, and cabaret artist Connie Champagne.

Director Robert Leonard originally hired Buster Keaton as a gag-writer to help him devise a way for a violin to get broken that would be both comic and plausible. Keaton came up with an elaborate stunt that would achieve the desired result; however, Leonard realized Keaton was the only one who could execute it properly, so he cast him in the film. Keaton also devised the sequence in which Johnson inadvertently wrecks Garland's hat and coached Johnson intensively in how to perform the scene. This was the first MGM film that Keaton appeared in after having been fired from the studio in 1933.[2]

The picture was filmed between November 1948 and January 1949.

Garland's three-year-old daughter, Liza Minnelli, makes her film debut, walking with her mother and Van Johnson in the film's closing shot.

The song "Last Night When We Were Young" was written in the 1930s by Harold Arlen and E. Y. "Yip" Harburg for the Metropolitan Opera star Lawrence Tibbett. Garland loved it and wanted to include it in the film. It was recorded and filmed but when the picture was released, it was cut from the final print. The audio recording of "Last Night When We Were Young" was featured on several of Garland's MGM record albums and she also later recorded it for Capitol Records in the 1950s. The entire footage of the number was found in the MGM vaults and included in the PBS documentary American Masters: Judy Garland: By Myself in 2004.


The film was made during the height of the strained relationship between Garland and MGM. As a testament to Garland's strong popularity, it was a huge critical and commercial success. According to MGM records it earned $2,892,000 in the US and Canada and $642,000 overseas, resulting in a profit of $601,000.[1] According to Variety it earned $3.4 million in the US.[3]

The film was the second to last one that Garland made at MGM (with the final being Summer Stock). MGM terminated her contract by mutual agreement in September 1950.

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:


  1. The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. Kline, Jim (1993). The complete films of Buster Keaton. New York, NY: Citadel Press. pp. 192–193. ISBN 0806513039.
  3. "Top Grossers of 1949". Variety. 4 January 1950. p. 59.
  4. "AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-13.
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