Thursday, September 1, 2011

Annie Get Your Gun (1950)

Gunnin' Down A Dream

- Fans of musicals might get more out of Irving Berlin's 1950 musical Annie Get Your Gun than I did. Not particularly a fan of musicals, I did enjoy the film overall but the over-the-top goofiness and cheesy fluff that most (if not all) musicals include simply turned me off at times. Rarely is there a time that I do not shift in my chair or raise my eyebrow in disbelief as a character SUDDENLY breaks out into song. Come on, that just does not happen in real life - and when it does, people get thrown into the loony bin for it. But seriously: what do I know? I am simply not much of a fan of musicals. Still, I found myself generally entertained by Annie Get Your Gun.

Annie Get Your Gun is a fictitious account of female sharpshooter Annie Oakley, who after beating out #1 sharpshooter Frank Butler in a shooting match, ends up touring with Buffalo Bill's Wild West show. Annie is not wired for show business, she is a down-and-dirty country gal used to taking care of her siblings and fending for herself, not catching train rides to the next place where she will have fun doing something she likes. She is a fish out of water, and it makes for some fine musical entertainment - that and the other part of the story: her feelings for seemingly unattainable Frank Butler.

Betty Hutton stars as Annie and gives a very charming performance. Hutton did not exactly have it easy in the role, stepping in for a legend of show, Judy Garland, who fell off the deep end with health and personal problems. The studio did not treat her well (not even inviting her to the premier of the film) and the cast and crew did not treat her well (even her romantic interest in the film, Howard Keel, did not get along with her). But Hutton pulls off a highly entertaining performance having a well-timed sense of comedy, contributing well to the tender scenes of the film and giving the musical scenes her all.

The most successful of songwriter Irving Berlin's Broadway musicals, Annie Get Your Gun is transferred very well on screen. I must admit that I did not care for all of the songs that were featured in the film, some were simply boring, but there are plenty of good tunes. "There's No Business Like Show Business" and "Anything You Can Do" stand out as the most recognizable tunes in the film (to me, anyway) and the best scene of the film features the latter of the two. But Annie Get Your Gun also works well on a cinematic level. While picking up an Oscar for Best Music, Annie Get Your Gun was also nominated for Best Cinematography (Color), Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Color), and Best Film Editing - and rightfully so.

Here is the point in the write-up where I would probably suggest that if one does not like musicals they will not enjoy Annie Get Your Gun - but I will not say that because I did enjoy it. The film is surely not for everyone but even the most intractable stiff can have fun watching Annie Get Your Gun.

CBC Rating: 7/10

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