It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.
This week’s musical:
Annie Get Your Gun (1950) – Musical #93
Betty Hutton, Howard Keel, Keenan Wynn, Louis Calhern, J. Carrol Naish, Edward Arnold, Benay Venuta, Clinton Sundberg
A fictionalized biographical film about sharpshooter Annie Oakley (Hutton) and how she met and fell in love with her husband, Frank Butler (Keel) as they traveled with Buffalo Bill’s (Calhern) wild west show.
• Based on the 1946 Broadway musical of the same name.
• Howard Keel’s first credited film role.
• Filming originally started April 9, 1949, and for this film was shut down on May 6, 1949, for a number of reasons:
– Judy Garland was originally set to play Annie Oakley, but had to pull out of the film for health reasons.
– Frank Morgan was originally cast as Buffalo Bill, but he died of a heart attack on Sept. 18, 1949. Louis Calhern replaced Morgan.
– Howard Keel broke his ankle while riding a horse on set.
• Before Betty Hutton was cast, other actresses considered for the role included Ginger Rogers, Betty Garrett, Betty Grable and Doris Day.
• Some of the songs from the original show were removed, including “I’m a Bad, Bad Man,” “Moonshine Lullaby” and “I Got Lost in His Arms.”
• The song “Let’s Go West Again” was deleted from the film. This was the only original song written by Irving Berlin for the film.
• Busby Berkeley was replaced by Charles Walters as director. George Sidney was the director of the final project.
• MGM purchased the film rights to the Broadway show in 1947. The film purchase rights said that the film version couldn’t be released until the Broadway run ended.
• In early planning, Bing Crosby was considered for the role of Frank Butler opposite Judy Garland.
• The Technicolor cinematography.
• All of the songs
As I was getting interested in classic movie musicals, I kept running across photos and songs from the film version of ANNIE GET YOUR GUN. I was dying to see it, and finally checked it out from the library.
I remember watching it one night with my parents over the summer. We all had a fabulous time. I remember laughing at Betty Hutton when her jaw drops each time she sees Howard Keel, and her impression of Keel when she sings “The Girl That I Marry.” I was in love with the soundtrack, and marched up and down the cul-de-sac singing “You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun.”
I still find this film to be great fun. It’s colorful, has toe-tapping tunes and makes me want to get a jaunty western outfit like Annie Oakley wears. I also have a bit of a personal tie to this film. In 2012, this was the first play I was in. I was in the chorus and got to perform in most of the musical numbers. It was a great time.
I know there is much discussion Betty Hutton vs. Judy Garland in the role of Annie Oakley. I love Judy Garland, but I really feel Betty Hutton is perfect for this role.
I know there are alleged issues on set, which vary from each cast member. I wrote about this in 2011, which you can read by clicking here.
However, I find the outtakes with Garland incredibly sad. Garland is sweet and elegant in her roles, and the energy of Annie Oakley did not fit her.
Though instead of comparing Hutton vs. Garland, considering other actresses of the time is also interesting. Howard Keel wrote in his autobiography that after working with Doris Day, he thinks she would have been great, which I agree with. Betty Garrett was also considered, and she would have been fun too.
But that said, I love Hutton’s mix of energy and comedy in this film.
I caught the 4K restoration from the original nitrate Technicolor negative during the At Home Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival, and it was stunning. The colors were even more vibrant in this restoration.
While ANNIE GET YOUR GUN may not be the most accurate account of Annie Oakley’s life, it is at least sure to put a smile on your face. I was under the weather when I revisited this, and it almost made me forget that I wasn’t feeling well.