|Annie Get Your Gun|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||George Sidney|
Busby Berkeley (uncredited)
Charles Walters (uncredited)
|Produced by||Arthur Freed|
|Screenplay by||Sidney Sheldon|
|Based on||Annie Get Your Gun|
by Dorothy Fields
J. Carrol Naish
|Music by||Songs: (lyrics and music by) Irving Berlin|
Music Direction: Adolph Deutsch
Additional music:Roger Edens
|Edited by||James E. Newcom|
|Distributed by||Loew's, Inc.|
Annie Get Your Gun is a 1950 American musical Technicolor comedy film loosely based on the life of sharpshooter Annie Oakley. The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer release, with music and lyrics by Irving Berlin and a screenplay by Sidney Sheldon based on the 1946 stage musical of the same name, was directed by George Sidney. Despite several production and casting problems (Judy Garland was fired from the lead role after a month of filming in which she clashed with the director and repeatedly showed up late or not at all), the film won the Academy Award for best score and received three other nominations. Star Betty Hutton was recognized with a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress.
The film adaptation cut the following numbers from the original score: "I'm a Bad, Bad Man", "Moonshine Lullaby", and "I Got Lost in His Arms" ("An Old Fashioned Wedding" was written for the 1966 revival.) The 2000 compact disc release of the soundtrack includes all of the film's numbers and "Let's Go West Again" (a Hutton number deleted before the film's release), an alternative take of Wynn's "Colonel Buffalo Bill", and Garland's renditions of Annie's pieces.
The film was originally budgeted at $1.5 million, with $600,000 payable to Irving Berlin and Dorothy and Herbert Fields for the score and the book, comparatively cheap compared to the $2.3 million budget for Berlin's Easter Parade.
Betty Hutton, played Annie Oakley, with Howard Keel (making his American film debut) as Frank Butler and Benay Venuta as Dolly Tate. Louis Calhern played Buffalo Bill, replacing Frank Morgan, who died in 1949.
Judy Garland, MGM's biggest musical comedy star, was originally cast as Annie Oakley. She recorded all her songs for the soundtrack and worked for two months under the direction of Busby Berkeley and dance director Robert Alton. Berkeley and Garland had worked together previously in the late 1930s and early 1940s in a successful series of backstage musicals teaming her with fellow juvenile star Mickey Rooney. However, Berkeley had been fired from the Garland/Rooney musical Girl Crazy in 1943 due to personality clashes with musical director Roger Edens and for driving Garland to collapse and subsequent doctor-ordered bed rest during the filming of the I Got Rhythm musical number. Six years later, producer Arthur Freed felt Berkeley was the right man to capture the spectacle needed for Annie Get Your Gun. But once again Berkeley was severe with Garland, and they immediately clashed. Unfortunately, Garland was suffering from overwork and exhaustion, the dissolution of her marriage to director Vincente Minnelli, and an addiction to prescription medication. Having recently completed the hit musical In the Good Old Summertime, she was in no condition to undertake a taxing role in another major musical production, and - based in part on her past experiences with him - she resented working with the demanding Berkeley. Struggling to make her characterization of Annie Oakley a real person and not just a broad caricature of Ethel Merman, Garland felt Berkeley had no understanding of how to translate the material to the big screen. She was put off by his bombastic directorial style, often leaving the set when he began shouting at the actors and crew. Garland complained about Berkeley to studio head Louis B. Mayer, attempting to have him removed from the film. After viewing Berkeley's footage to that point, producer Freed was disappointed and fired the veteran director, replacing him with Charles Walters. Despite this change, the underweight and physically exhausted Garland arrived late or not at all for each day's filming schedule. After a couple of warnings, MGM finally suspended Garland's contract and she was fired from the picture. Garland, telling the press she was forced to leave the production against her will, traveled to Boston where she was hospitalized for several weeks to regain her health.
Betty Garrett was considered as Garland's replacement, but her contract with the studio had expired and her agent asked for too much money for her to return. Ginger Rogers lobbied hard for the role, but the producers felt she was too mature and glamorous for the part. According to Rogers, studio head L.B. Mayer told her, "You stay in your silk stockings and high heels, Ginger. This part isn't for you." Betty Hutton, Paramount's top musical comedy star, pleaded for the role with both MGM and her home studio. A loan-out deal was brokered and Hutton won the part of Annie Oakley. Shooting resumed after five months, with George Sidney replacing Charles Walters as director.
According to Betty Hutton, she was treated coldly by most of the cast and crew because she had replaced Garland. During an interview with Robert Osborne (first telecast on Turner Classic Movies "Private Screenings" on July 18, 2000), she recalled the other cast members being hostile and the MGM management as so unappreciative they neglected to invite her to the New York premiere. By all accounts, Hutton clashed with co-star Howard Keel. Years later, Keel recalled Hutton as "a scene stealer" and "insecure". In his autobiography Only Make Believe: My Life in Show Business, Keel wrote that on one occasion Hutton was upset because she felt Keel was upstaging her and they reshot the scene 35 times until she was satisfied with it. Hutton wrote in her memoir Backstage You Can Have that Keel was a "green horn" who tried to pull focus from her performance. Reportedly, she felt the only major cast member who treated her with any kindness and respect was Louis Calhern. Hutton also stated that one day Judy Garland visited the set and when Hutton greeted her with a bouncy "Hiya', Judy!", she was brought up short by a seething string of profanities from Garland. Years later, the two women became friendly while each was performing in Las Vegas. According to Hutton, Garland admitted to her that she never felt she was right for the part of Annie and had been relieved when Hutton took over.
Only two production numbers were completed with Garland, "Doin' What Comes Naturally" and the elaborate "I'm an Indian, Too" and these were officially released by MGM for the first time in the 1994 documentary That's Entertainment III. All of Garland's studio prerecordings for the film exist and were officially released by Rhino Records in 2000 for the film's first complete and remastered soundtrack CD, alongside Betty Hutton's renditions of the same numbers from the film.
The film premiered at Loew's State Theatre in New York City on May 17, 1950. Despite the production problems, the film garnered mostly favorable reviews from critics. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times called it "a whale of a musical picture" with Hutton giving the lead role "a great deal of humor and bounce."Variety declared it "socko musical entertainment on film, just as it was on the Broadway stage ... Wonderfully stimulating, always entertaining, 'Annie' should do a lot to push the slogan, 'Movies Are Better Than Ever.'"Harrison's Reports wrote that "it holds one captivated from start to finish with the brilliance of its color photography, the lavish sets, the huge cast, the colorful costumes, the lilting Berlin tunes and, foremost, the truly wonderful performance given by the dynamic Betty Hutton, as 'Annie Oakley.'"Richard L. Coe of The Washington Post called it "a swell musical--a picture everybody will enjoy," adding that "while Annie is a juicy part, it's hard to think of anyone who could have done it as well as Betty has."John McCarten of The New Yorker wrote that it was "far superior to the usual line of Hollywood goods," though in comparison to the stage version, Hutton "never projects the hilarity of the business with anything like the enormous competence of Miss Merman."The Monthly Film Bulletin called Berlin's music "very enjoyable" but faulted the direction because "the staging of the numbers rarely takes advantage of the amplitude of the sets or the mobility of the camera," and thought that Hutton played the role "as a series of turns rather than as an acting performance."
The film was one of the top-grossing pictures of the year. During its initial release, MGM recorded it as earning $4,708,000 in the US and Canada and $3,048,000 overseas, resulting in a profit of $1,061,000.
In 1973 it was withdrawn from distribution, owing to a dispute between Irving Berlin and MGM over music rights, which prevented the public from viewing this film for almost 30 years. It was not until the film's 50th anniversary in 2000 that it was seen again in its entirety.
One of Hutton's costumes, the very first "Wild West Show" costume seen in the film for the reprise of "There's No Business Like Show Business" is on permanent display at the Costume World Broadway Collection Museum in Pompano Beach, Florida.