Annie Oakley is an incredible shot who was raised 'Doin' What Comes Naturally'. Frank Butler, the star sharpshooter in 'Colonel Buffalo Bill''s show, however, knows full well that's not how 'The Girl That I Marry' must be. Anyway, not at least until he finds that 'My Defences are Down'.
Though Annie defiantly says 'Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better', she realizes that 'You Can't Get a Man With a Gun'. The victor at the end is love; as you know, 'It's Wonderful'. After all, 'There's No Business Like Show Business'.
Betty Hutton ... Annie Oakley
Howard Keel ... Frank Butler
Louis Calhern ... Col. Buffalo Bill Cody
J. Carrol Naish ... Chief Sitting Bull
Edward Arnold ... Pawnee Bill
Keenan Wynn ... Charlie Davenport
Benay Venuta ... Dolly Tate
Clinton Sundberg ... Foster Wilson
Director: George Sidney / Busby Berkeley (uncredited)
Music: Irving Berlin / Roger Edens (uncredited)
Xvid / AC3
I have had many outings with this popular musical by Irving Berlin. First, I saw it live on Broadway (my first show) starring Bernadette Peters. Then I listened to the original Broadway cast soundtrack with Ethel Merman, which led me to think that Peters really wasn't that good after all. Then finally, I got to see this movie about three years ago. Plus, last year I was in "Annie Get Your Gun" at Portland Players, portraying several minor characters. It's too bad it followed the modernized version more closely than the original, which was changed for the sake of political correctness! Oh well.
Seeing the movie helped me to understand the plot of the whole story better; plays don't always do it for me (not the first time around anyway). It's by no means a great film. It's a bit slow (notice the point where Annie is anticipating what she'll do when she bumps into Frank on the boat) and the music is not performed quite as well as I would have liked to hear (at least, not when compared to what I'm used to). Yet it's still worth watching if you're a fan.
Despite the fact that Ethel Merman wasn't even considered by MGM to repeat her Broadway triumph and Judy Garland fell by the way side, Annie Get Your Gun is still as alive and as fresh as the day it debuted on Broadway and for 1147 performances starting in 1946. It was Irving Berlin's biggest stage success both quantitatively and qualitatively. It sure had the most hit songs coming out of it, maybe the most for any Broadway show.
Because they had Garland, so they thought at MGM, for box office, producer Arthur Freed felt they could go with an unknown for Frank Butler. Both John Raitt and Howard Keel tested for the role and Keel won the toss. Then Keel broke his ankle falling off a horse on the set and they shot closeups and around him, putting pressure on Judy Garland's fragile psyche. On top of that Frank Morgan who was playing Buffalo Bill died suddenly in the middle of the film. Most of it had to be reshot when Betty Hutton was borrowed from Paramount.
Annie Get Your Gun was the perfect musical to appeal to the Rosie the Riveter crowd who competed and won in a man's world during World War II. Those women who became feminist icons certainly identified with another feminist icon in Annie Oakley.
The real Annie Oakley was not as brassy as her character in Annie Get Your Gun. By all accounts Phoebe Annie Mosee, aka Annie Oakley was a quiet retiring woman when away from the spotlight. She let her skill with weaponry do her talking.
Irving Berlin wrote so many hits out of this film it's staggering. Ballads like They Say It's Wonderful and The Girl That I Marry were recorded by many artists down to the present. My Defenses are Down also sold quite a few platters back in the day.
But of course the theatrical profession got its anthem when Irving Berlin wrote There's No Business Like Show Business. There's a really fine recording of it that Bing Crosby, Dick Haymes and the Andrews Sisters did of it with the flipside being Anything You Can Do also another gem from this show.
Some songs didn't make the cut. A good one that Ethel Merman did called I Got Lost in His Arms is absent from this film, a pity. And Berlin wrote a song called Let's Go West Again which was to be done on the cattle boat by Hutton and the ensemble was cut. Al Jolson made a recording of it for Decca though.
Louis Calhern and Edward Arnold as Buffalo Bill and Pawnee Bill play a fine pair of frontier rogues. Calhern captured the character of the real later Cody quite well.
With feminist issues by now means settled, Annie Get Your Gun is maybe more relevant now than when it first came out.
Judy Garland was originally intended to play Annie Oakley, but had to quit because of her "unfortunate condition". She was replaced by Betty Hutton, who had a much more appropriate voice for the role. So many people have expressed disappointment that Garland had to leave the set, claiming that that was what kept it being great. That kind of thinking gets to me. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is so wonderful that their presence automatically guarantees that a movie will be a masterpiece. I've seen footage of Garland on the DVD. She was better than I expected, but I'm still not sure she would have worked. Just check out "I'm an Indian Too". She's just too pure. More robustness was needed. Betty had it all, and was just a little ways behind Merman.
Howard Keel is just right as rival sharpshooter Frank Butler. He has the exact attitude needed for Frank's jealousy whenever Annie gets more fame than he, and also the right attitude for expressing how much he loves her. Colonel Buffalo Bill is well played by Louis Calhern, replacing Frank Morgan who had suddenly died (This could nave been a second picture with him and Judy Garland acting together- the first being "The Wizard of Oz", of course.). Sitting Bull is played to perfection by J. Carol Naish, who had, I believe, played the same role in an earlier film about Annie Oakley. I love the part where he corrects the illiterate Annie on her pronunciation of the word "champaigne". Edward Arnold is perfectly cast as Pawnee Bill, Buffalo's fierce competitor. Keenan Wynn quite nicely fits the role of Frank's manager, Charlie Davenport. Solid contributions are also made by Clinton Sundburg (Foster Wilson, the property man) and Benay Venuta (Dolly Tate).
Berlin's memorable score includes such familiar songs as "They Say It's Wonderful" "Doin' What Comes Naturally", "Anything You Can Do", "You Can't Get A Man With A Gun", "I Got The Sun In The Morning", and, oh yes, "There's No Business Like Show Business"- and there really ain't. Also included are "I'm an Indian Too" and "Colonel Buffalo Bill", two fine songs that were unjustly removed from the modernized version. It's no real surprise that this movie won the Best Score Oscar.
George Sidney directs. This is a pretty darn, I mean "durn" as Annie would pronounce it, good movie. It's certainly worth seeing at least once. So get to it.
* Judy Garland, originally cast as Annie, was taken ill during early filming and production was halted until Betty Hutton finished Let's Dance (1950) and was called in to replace her.
* Director Busby Berkeley was also replaced, by George Sidney. Charles Walters had been set to direct after Berkeley left, but was fired before he could actually shoot any of it.
* 'Charles Walters' did not know that he had been fired and replaced by George Sidney until he heard gossip columnist Hedda Hopper announce it on the radio.
* Frank Morgan, in the role of Buffalo Bill, died suddenly and his scenes had to be re-shot with his replacement, Louis Calhern.
* Howard Keel broke his leg during filming when a horse fell on it.
* Geraldine Wall was replaced in the cast by Benay Venuta.
* Property rights cost $650,000.
* Betty Hutton said in an interview that the crew at MGM was not very nice to her because they told her they'd rather have Judy Garland in the role. However, at a recent screening of the re-mastered print of the film, the surviving members of the cast and crew praised Hutton's performance highly, and acknowledged her contribution to the film. Hutton was one of the surviving cast members who did not attend that screening.
* The existing footage of Judy Garland shot prior to her leaving the production shows that some key sequences, most notably "I'm an Indian Too" were originally to have been shot on a soundstage, rather than outdoors. Besides the major roles mentioned above, several child roles were also recast between Garland leaving the film and production resuming with Hutton, as evidenced by the Garland version of "Doin' What Comes Naturally".
* In spite of its popularity, the film was unavailable in any form from 1973 until 2000 due to legal tangling between Irving Berlin (and later his estate) and MGM (later Turner, and then Warner Bros). It was released again after the 1998 Broadway revival of the stage show raised interest in seeing this film again.
* Louis Calhern replaced 'Frank Morgan' in the role of Buffalo Bill Cody after Morgan died just as filming was getting under way. But if you look closely at Buffalo Bill's very first appearance on his horse, you will see a second of Frank Morgan before the shot of Calhern.
* Script and casting problems delayed the filming schedule for three months, which allowed Judy Garland to appear in _In The Good Old Summertime (1949)_ , in relatively good health.
* After Judy Garland's firing from the picture, Betty Garrett was briefly considered as a replacement.
* 'Judy Garland' and 'Frank Morgan' , who appeared together in The Wizard of Oz (1939), were supposed to reappear together in this film. Garland was fired because of health problems, and Frank Morgan died shortly after filming began. As a result of this, Betty Hutton took on Judy Garland's role as Annie Oakley, and Louis Calhern succeeded Frank Morgan as Buffalo Bill.
* In the opening number, it is Frank Morgan seen on the horse. The rest of the film features Louis Calhern because of Frank Morgan's sudden death.
* 'Charles Walters suggested to Arthur Freed that Betty Grable would be an ideal Annie Oakley. However, Twentieth Century Fox wouldn't loan her out.
* Before the eventual casting of Judy Garland as Annie Oakley, Doris Day and Judy Canova were mentioned for the role, as well as Betty Hutton (this was before she eventually replaced Garland in the role).