Annie Get Your Gun (film)

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.

Annie Get Your Gun
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGeorge Sidney
Busby Berkeley (uncredited)
Charles Walters (uncredited)
Produced byArthur Freed
Roger Edens
Screenplay bySidney Sheldon
Based onAnnie Get Your Gun
1946 book
by Dorothy Fields
Herbert Fields
StarringBetty Hutton
Howard Keel
Benay Venuta
Music bySongs: (lyrics and music by) Irving Berlin
Music Direction: Adolph Deutsch
Additional music:Roger Edens
CinematographyCharles Rosher
Edited byJames E. Newcom
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • July 17, 1950 (1950-07-17)
Running time
107 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$7,756,000[1]


Musical numbers

  1. "Colonel Buffalo Bill" — Charlie, Dolly, Ensemble
  2. "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly" — Annie, Siblings
  3. "The Girl That I Marry" — Frank
  4. "You Can't Get a Man with a Gun" — Annie
  5. "There's No Business Like Show Business" — Frank, Buffalo Bill, Charlie Davenport, Annie with ensemble
  6. "They Say It's Wonderful" — Annie, Frank
  7. "There's No Business Like Show Business (Reprise)" — Annie
  8. "My Defenses Are Down" — Frank, Ensemble
  9. "I'm an Indian Too" — Annie
  10. "I Got the Sun in the Morning" — Annie
  11. "Anything You Can Do" - Annie, Frank

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.

Production history

The film was originally budgeted at $1.5 million, with $600,000 paying for the score and the book.[2]

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. 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 very hard during the filming of one musical number. On Annie Get Your Gun, producer Arthur Freed felt Berkeley was the right man to capture the spectacle needed. But once again, Berkeley was severe with Garland. Unfortunately, Garland was suffering from overwork and exhaustion, the dissolution of her marriage to director Vincente Minnelli, and an addiction to prescription medication. She was in no condition to undertake such a taxing role in a major production, and – based in part on her past experiences with him – she resented working with the demanding Berkeley. Berkeley felt Garland's attitude on the set and performance as Annie thus far lacked any enthusiasm. Garland felt that Berkeley had no understanding of how to translate the material to the big screen, and 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 either arrived late or not at all for each day's filming schedule. Finally, MGM suspended Garland's contract and she was fired from the picture. Garland claimed she was forced to leave the production against her will, and traveled to Boston where she was hospitalized for several weeks to regain her health.[3]

Betty Garrett was considered as a 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 too 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 pleaded for the role with both MGM and her home studio of Paramount, 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.[3]

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 was visiting the set and that Hutton greeted her with a bouncy "Hiya', Judy!", only to be answered by a string of profanities from Garland. Years later, the two women became friendly while each was performing in Las Vegas. According to Hutton, Garland admitted 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 "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, with Betty Hutton's renditions of the same numbers from the film.

Release and reception

The film premiered at Loew's State Theatre in New York City on May 17, 1950.[4] 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."[5] 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.'"[6] 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.'"[7] 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."[8] 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."[9] 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."[10]

The film was one of the top-grossing pictures of the year.[11] 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.[1][12]

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.

Awards and honors


  1. The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. Variety April 1949 p 3
  3. Green, Stanley; revised and updated by Elaine Schmidt. Hollywood Musicals Year By Year, Second Edition (1999) Hal Leonard Corporation, p. 159 ISBN 0-634-00765-3
  4. Arceri, Gene (2009). Rocking Horse - A Personal Biography of Betty Hutton. BearManor Media. ISBN 9781593933210.
  5. Crowther, Bosley (May 18, 1950). "The Screen: Three Films Make Their Bows". The Washington Post: B7.
  6. "Annie Get Your Gun". Variety: 6. April 12, 1950.
  7. "'Annie Get Your Gun' with Betty Hutton, Howard Keel, Louis Calhern, and Edward Arnold". Harrison's Reports: 58. April 15, 1950.
  8. Coe, Richard L. (June 15, 1950). "'Annie' a Musical Everyone'll Like". The Washington Post: B7.
  9. McCarten, John (May 20, 1950). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker: 105.
  10. "Annie Get Your Gun". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 17 (198): 98. July 1950.
  11. "All-Time Top Grossers". Variety: 5. January 17, 1951.
  12. Background information from the Judy Garland Database
  13. "NY Times: Annie Get Your Gun". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-20.

Further reading

  • Monder, Eric (1994). George Sidney: A Bio-Bibliography. Greenwood Press. ISBN 9780313284571.
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