Eddie Pensier writes:
An outtake from Annie Get Your Gun (1950), with Judy Garland, before she was fired by MGM and replaced by Betty Hutton. Garland had clashed with original director Busby Berkeley, and retaliated against his perfectionism by showing up late and missing calls. (Berkeley himself would be replaced by two additional directors.) There’s dialogue in the beginning: the music starts at 1:50.
Judy seems oddly subdued in this clip, although it’s almost a masterpiece of subtlety compared to the googly-eyed hamming of Hutton. It’s a song that has to be taken on its own terms: for lyrical wit and cleverness and a bloody-minded earworm of a tune, with absolutely no other redeeming value whatsoever.
- Atypical Neurotic shared another Judy Garland moment from Summer Stock.
I’ve never read a good explanation for Irving Berlin — a man who could barely play the piano, and struck some people as not being particularly musical or sensitive in any way. In fact, he comes across in some accounts like the shrewd heads of the early movie studios: crude, money grubbing, fiercely protective of his rights and properties. Yet he is the sole author of the book and music for “Annie Get Your Gun” and “Call Me Madam” — two wonderful and wise shows, jammed with great tunes and humanity. Back in the 20s and 30s, the scuttlebutt on Broadway was that Berlin had a “colored boy” up in Harlem whom he kept in an office and paid a salary to write his tunes (a movie based on this scenario, using a fictional songwriter and non-colored ghost-writer was released in the 30s). But Berlin himself says he really only had four basic melodies that he reworked in different ways over the years. If you listen closely, sometimes you think you can pick them out. But what makes Berlin truly astonishing is what a sensitive and near-perfect lyricist he is, as well as melodist. How likely is that combination? But then again, how likely was it that brilliant melodist George Gershwin should happen to have a brother, Ira, who was his near perfect complement as a lyricist?
As regards Garland in “Annie”, the might-have-beens are tantalizing, but shouldn’t take anything away from Betty Hutton, who, “pop-eyed” or not, knocked herself out to do well in the part, and delivered a highly entertaining and still very watchable “Annie” for posterity.