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Hollywood's 1940s craze for composer biographies did not yield many masterpieces, and Till the Clouds Roll By is one of the weaker efforts in the bunch. Robert Walker tries gamely to suggest the decency of Jerome Kern but is defeated by a sluggish story line pairing him with a crotchety mentor (Van Heflin). As a collection of freestanding production numbers devoted to Kern's songs, however, the movie has appeal. It begins with almost 20 minutes of Showboat (including Lena Horne's plaintive reading of "Can't Help Lovin' That Man") and the hits just keep on coming. Judy Garland, who appears in a few scenes as stage star Marilyn Miller, contributes "Look for the Silver Lining" and a Gatsby-esque production number on "Who?" Her songs were staged by then-hubby Vincente Minnelli. Other highlights include a young Angela Lansbury, still with baby fat, singing "How'd You Like to Spoon with Me?" Lucille Bremer, a leggy starlet who never quite caught on, plays Kern's protégé. She spins a delightful duet with Van Johnson on "I Won't Dance," two redheads capering with gusto. It all ends with another splashy theatrical montage, climaxing in Frank Sinatra's take on "Ol' Man River." That might sound like a strange idea, but Ol' Blue Eyes clearly loves the song (he would return to it often in his career) and is in beautiful voice.

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WA67857 Till The Clouds Roll By DVD (1946/Judy Garland) $12.97 $11.99