Saturday, May 29, 2021

Tonight's Movie: Annie Get Your Gun (1950) - A Warner Archive Blu-ray Review

MGM's production of Irving Berlin's ANNIE GET YOUR GUN (1950) is now available on Blu-ray from the Warner Archive.

The Blu-ray, released last month, looks and sounds spectacularly good. The Warner Archive describes it as being a 4K scan from original nitrate Technicolor negatives. The clarity and eye-popping color are reason enough to pick up this Blu-ray, but the film also provides a wonderful catalogue of a series of great songs by Berlin, performed by stars who were perfectly cast.

The story, honestly, has never been a particular favorite for me: Rough-hewn Annie Oakley (Betty Hutton), a crack shot, joins a wild west show, falls for egotistical leading man Frank Butler (Howard Keel), becomes more refined, and eventually lands her man.

That's about all there is to the plot, but the good news is that this 107-minute film doesn't waste lots of time on dialogue, instead jumping from song to song to song -- and they're great, leaving the viewer humming when the movie's over. A song selection menu is a real plus, making it easy for viewers to continue to enjoy the musical soundtrack, which includes "Anything You Can Do," "I Got the Sun in the Morning," and "There's No Business Like Show Business," to name just three.

I used to be rather impatient with leading lady Hutton, but since admiring her performance in THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK (1944) I've come to appreciate her more. I now like her quite a bit more in this than I did years ago, when I wished the originally cast Judy Garland had been able to complete it. (I was, of course, imagining Garland at her best; there are musical outtakes with Garland included in the extras, and it's quite sad how hollow-eyed she looks.) It seems as though this year I've revised my opinion of several movies or performances upon a revisit, and that includes my thoughts on Hutton in this film.

Keel does a great job capturing Butler's arrogance while not making him completely unlikeable, and every time he opens his mouth, it's pure magic. Keel was simply made to perform in musicals like this, SHOW BOAT (1951), KISS ME KATE (1953), CALAMITY JANE (1953), and SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS (1954). What a voice! The role could not have been cast any better.

The solid supporting cast includes Louis Calhern, Keenan Wynn, Edward Arnold, Benay Venuta, J. Carrol Naish, and Clinton Sundberg, but in the end it's Keel and Hutton's show.

The movie runs 107 minutes. It was directed by George Sidney and Busby Berkeley. The Technicolor cinematography was by Charles Rosher.  Hutton's green dress near the end of the film is particularly appealing on the Blu-ray, but the print looks great throughout.

Extras include an introduction by Susan Lucci, a trailer, and the previously mentioned musical outtakes and song selection menu.

Coincidentally, with the passing of Gavin MacLeod announced today, I've been reminiscing about seeing him as Charlie Davenport (played here by Keenan Wynn) in a 1977 Los Angeles stage production of ANNIE GET YOUR GUN. The leads were played by Debbie Reynolds and Harve Presnell, who had costarred in MGM's THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN (1964).

ANNIE GET YOUR GUN is a beautiful Blu-ray presentation which I recommend, particularly for fans of musicals.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive Blu-rays may be ordered from the Warner Archive Amazon Store or any online retailers where Blu-rays are sold.


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