Thoughts on Jane:
I hadn’t heard of her before watching this film, but she kind of reminded me of another actor I’ve seen before but can’t place the name of. Maybe Vera-Ellen a little bit?
TCM Movie Schedule:
- A Date With Judy
- Luxury Liner
- Nancy Goes to Rio
- Rich, Young, and Pretty
- Three Sailors and a Girl
- Hit the Deck
- The Girl Most Likely
- Royal Wedding
- Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
- Small Town Girl
- Two Weeks With Love
- Enchanted Island
Judy Foster (Jane Powell) struggles with her family life, friendship with the popular and demanding Carol (Elizabeth Taylor), her boyfriend Oogie (Scotty Beckett), and her crush on the much older Stephen (Robert Stack).
I think it’s kind of strange that a lot of older movies seem to cast actual teenagers as teenagers, while nowadays 25 seems to be the average age. A Date With Judy felt more realistic in that sense, as the younger characters were played by actors of the same age.
Plot-wise, the film is pretty generic. It felt like a sitcom stretched out into a feature length film – minus the laugh track. Judy deals with a lot of 1940s teen-specific problems that feel of the time. The humor isn’t quite there. I think it leaned too much into drama and should have been a lot funnier.
The performances were pretty good, although the cast didn’t seem to have natural chemistry with each other. It was hard to understand why Judy would want to be friends with Carol, as they never got along and were always fighting over something. It wasn’t until later in the movie that they started to get along, but I think their relationship should have been developed more because it was the most interesting part.
Elizabeth Taylor is easily the highlight, she looks amazing in all of her costumes and already exudes movie star quality, even at the age of 16! Carol could easily have been a rich and spoiled brat, but Taylor gives her more nuance.
The musical elements felt out of place, but I thought it was a good decision to have them make sense within the film. Like Judy performing for her school band or on the radio. The songs just didn’t really appeal to me. Powell has a great voice though, and she knows how to perform well.
I get that it’s supposed to be light and fun, but I think not enough was happening to keep it interesting. The film is almost two hours long and really starts to drag in the second half. The stakes are practically nonexistent, and the characters aren’t interesting enough.
Another issue I had was the character of Stephen. I think it would be okay if he was an “older man” still, but not a literal grown man. I could see him being a senior in high school to their freshman or sophomore. But Robert Stack is a full 30-years old at this point, while Powell and Taylor are only 18 and 16, respectively. Besides, he didn’t have that much chemistry with either of them and I didn’t think his character was interesting enough to cause such a strong reaction from Judy.
A Date With Judy is cute and fluffy, but not really anything special. I think it could have been pretty good too, with a better script and songs, as the cast was all talented. It just all felt pretty trivial.
- Favorite Song: ‘I’m Strictly on the Corny Side’
- Favorite Character: Oogie Pringle
- Powell’s Performance: She’s good at doing both the dramatic and comedic elements, and her singing is great. I just didn’t like her character very much and I don’t think that was supposed to be purposeful. I’d give her performance a 3/5.
- Favorite Scene: Oogie Serenades Judy
- Would I Recommend? It was cute and fun, I think it would be enjoyable if you like any of the actors and easy-breezy MGM musicals. It’s not a must-watch but it’s pretty good.
Audrey is a self-proclaimed film buff who loves to watch, read, and write about movies. Her passions include queer & feminist studies, watching obscure 80s/90s and Old Hollywood films, and discovering new music. She also writes for Scribe Magazine. Check out her podcast about actors who died young!