Pigskin Parade DVD – Review

The movie now known mostly for Judy Garland’s feature film debut, 1936’s Pigskin Parade, is now on DVD in a special “Marquee Musicals” edition from 20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment.

The film gets the deluxe treatment, packaged in the traditional amaray case that’s housed in a sturdy slip cover. Here is the link to The Judy Room Pigskin Parade DVD page. There is a nice full color “booklet” inside, along with an envelope that contains 4 postcard sized “lobby cards”. The disc itself has a full color label featuring a slight variation of the cover artwork, this time featuring Judy alone.

THE EXTRAS:

“Making The Team: The Talent OF Pigskin Parade” – Featurette
This little documentary is thoroughly enjoyable. It’s nice to learn a bit about the other players in the film. My favorite is Dixie Dunbar. Mainly because I just love her name. And she was fairly talented too. The cast is full of familiar faces, many whom you might not know their names but if you watch classic films you’ll recognize the faces. And who doesn’t love seeing a young Betty Grable?

The “biographical screen card” for Judy gives her name as “Francis” although it’s actually “Frances” (with an “E”). They give her role in The Wizard Of Oz as Dorthy Gale rather than Dorothy. And they don’t even list Meet Me In St. Louis or Easter Parade as some of her best career accomplishments. But, that’s minor. The misspelling of her name is NOT minor. They should have gotten that right!!! My other main quibble is that the featurette is a bit short and seems to end abruptly. I would give this a B-

“Remembering Judy: Lorna Luft on Judy Garland” – Featurette
I’ve never been a big fan of Lorna, so I’m a bit bias when it comes to this subject. Lorna speaks to the camera about Judy’s early career, and once again she gets her facts wrong. She states that Judy made “four” shorts for MGM prior to making Pigskin. This isn’t true. Judy made one short (“Every Sunday”) for MGM. In the summer of 1935, and just prior to signing with MGM, she and her sisters appeared in La Fiesta De Santa Barbara, which was not made by MGM but was distributed by them. Prior to that, she made several shorts for Vitaphone in 1929 and 1930. I wish Lorna would get her facts right before she’s interviewed. Or that someone would have the balls to correct her. I know she’s Judy’s daughter, but you’d think she’d want to get her stories right. It’s a minor quibble, I guess. Many people might not catch the mistake. However, Garland fans are notoriously unforgiving on minor details like these. Other than that, Lorna gets the rest correct. Is it me, or did Lorna just not get any of Judy’s warmth or camera-friendly aura?

This featurette purposely shows clips of Judy from the film without sound. It’s an attempt to either get you to watch the film, or perhaps get excited about hearing a young and unpolished Garland sing. It’s doesn’t work. I found myself wondering why we weren’t getting any sound. Here is Lorna talking about how amazing Judy was at such a young age, how she’s the original American Idol (lame – Judy’s better than that), and so on. Yet we don’t HEAR anything.

A few of the factoids are interesting. Other than that, it’s a drag to watch the ever grating Lorna yammer on. I give this a “C”.

“Meet The Coach: Darryl F. Zanuck”- Featurette
This is a good overview of Zanuck and how he ended up at Fox, which is an interesting story. However, I feel that it should have been a part of the “Making The Team” featurette rather than separate. As interesting as it is, I had the feeling that the producers of the DVD wanted it to seem like there were “more” extras. This I give a “C”.

Restoration Comparison
This is a nice comparison of how the film looked (on VHS) and how it looks now. Not a huge difference, but welcome nonetheless.

Stills Galleries
A nice section filled with various categories “Advertising”; “Studio Shots”; “On The Field” and “Campus Capers”. All of the shots are fun. And typical of the time period. I give these an “A”.

THE FILM:
How can I not enjoy Judy Garland’s first feature film. She steals the show. She doesn’t even appear until approximately 41:36 minutes into the film. At this point, she’s the pigtailed creature that she would joke about in her later years.

Judy’s first song isn’t until another 16 minutes into the film. This is when she comes on and belts out her part of “The Balboa”. It’s a fun song that’s a new dance performed by the real stars, and by Judy of course.

Judy she really gets her chance to shine when she sings “The Texas Tornado”. This is THE song that lets audiences know that Judy Garland was not your typical movie songstress. When she finally gives her all with “It’s Love I’m After”, which comes pretty closely after “Tornado”, one can see what all the excitement was with her discovery in Hollywood. She’s simply amazing. She steals the show. Hands down. Not a small task considering the talent she’s with. This is Judy Garland before the polish of MGM and musical mentor Roger Edens. Obviously, they had A LOT to work with!!!!

Overall, it’s a fun film. I recommend it for anyone who enjoys typical 1930’s humor and music. And of course, those Garland fans who want to see their idol in a very un-polished and raw way.

I give the film a big “A-“

Judy rocks!!

Total running time: 92:47

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Comments
2 Responses to “Pigskin Parade DVD – Review”
  1. Brian says:

    Scott, I saw this film at the Stanford Theatre one day last summer when I happened to be in Palo Alto and just wanted to luxuriate in that wonderful theatre. I knew almost nothing about the film beforehand, but found it absolutely fascinating. I expected a thoroughly frivolous musical comedy set in college. I didn’t expect the film to encase themes tied so strongly to the international political scene (particularly that song about communist revolution!!)

  2. Scott Brogan says:

    Hi Brian!I haven’t gotten over to the Stanford Theatre yet – but one day I will. I hear nothing but good from it.Yes, the film is surprisingly good. Especially when one considers that it wasn’t Fox’s “big movie” of the year. However, all of that great talent along with Judy just makes it even more enjoyable.Thanks for writing!

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