MGM’s top film of 1948 was an exercise in creative improvisation when former director Charles Walters took over the directing after Judy Garland’s psychiatrist advised that she not work with husband Vincente Minnelli again. That was the first of many last-minute changes. The romantic tale of a song-and-dance man forced to replace his dance partner when she goes solo was originally supposed to re-team Garland with Gene Kelly, her co-star in For Me and My Gal (1942), and feature Cyd Charisse as his ex. But Kelly broke his ankle, so Fred Astaire came out of retirement to make his only film with Garland. Ann Miller then started her association with MGM after Charisse injured her leg. A musical tribute to songwriter Irving Berlin, the picture combined standards he had written over the past 40 years with original numbers like “Steppin’ Out with My Baby” and “A Couple of Swells.” The latter would become one of Garland’s signature tunes, starting with her sold-out concert at the Palace in 1951, when she performed it under the direction of Walters.
Dir. Charles Walters