For all MGM's lavish production values, many of the studio's musicals fell foul of workmanlike or uninspired handling. In the Good Old Summertime is a perfect example, a lavish period remake of Lubitch's The Shop Around the Corner shot in glorious Technicolor with no expense spared and barely a scrap of charm to its name. Intended to capitalise on the success of Meet Me in St. Louis but emerging years later with a much softened script and a particularly poor batch of musical numbers to divert the attention, it's a piece that needs a lightness of touch and an affection for its characters, yet despite starring Judy Garland opposite all-but forgotten superstar of the 40s Van Johnson, director Robert Z. Leonard makes particularly heavy weather of it all. S.Z. Cuddles Sakall and Spring Byington do their best, but even Buster Keaton is wasted on the sidelines, with none of the other supporting characters making an impression and laughs rationed as if there were still a war on. Leonard may have been one of the studio's most prolific directors with a hand in a few genuine classics, but any studio journeyman could have made it as flat as this and most could have improved upon it. As it is, he seems to do little more than point the camera in the right direction, never giving it the kind of staging that showcases the material or the players to their best effect, leaving the whole thing feeling like he was constantly glancing at his watch - perhaps the one response he successfully got from many of the audience. It's too professional to be terrible, but it's dull production line fodder for all that. Small wonder that it's best remembered for Liza Minnelli's brief cameo as Garland's onscreen daughter in the final shot.
Warner Home Video's region 2 DVD has a decent print but has no extras at all.