Girl Crazy (1943 film)

Girl Crazy is a 1943 American musical film produced by the Freed Unit of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Based on the stage musical Girl Crazy  which was written by Guy Bolton and Jack McGowan, with music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin  it stars Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in the last of their nine co-starring movies.[notes 1] Production began with Busby Berkeley as director, but he was soon replaced by Norman Taurog.

Girl Crazy
theatrical release poster
Directed byNorman Taurog
Busby Berkeley
Produced byArthur Freed
Written byFred F. Finklehoffe
Dorothy Kingsley (uncredited)
William Ludwig (uncredited)
Sid Silvers (uncredited)
Based onBased on Girl Crazy
1930 musical by
Guy Bolton (book)
Jack McGowan (book)
George Gershwin (music)
Ira Gershwin (lyrcs)[1]
StarringMickey Rooney
Judy Garland
Music byGeorge Gershwin
CinematographyWilliam H. Daniels
Robert Planck
Edited byAlbert Akst
Distributed byLoew's Inc.
Release date
November 26, 1943 (US)
Running time
97 or 99-100 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Box office$3,771,000[2]

The film used all six songs from the original stage musical, plus another Gershwin song, "Fascinating Rhythm".[3][4]

The 1943 film was the second adaptation of the stage musical. The earlier, also called Girl Crazy, was released by RKO in 1932, and starred Bert Wheeler, Robert Woolsey and Dorothy Lee. Another version, with Connie Francis and Herman's Hermits, was released by MGM in 1965 as When the Boys Meet the Girls.


Danny Churchill (Mickey Rooney), a young philandering playboy, is taken out of Yale University by his concerned father and sent to Cody College of Mines and Agriculture in Codyville, somewhere in the American West, in the hope that he will stay away from girls and concentrate on his studies.

Walking the eight miles from the train depot to the college, he meets Ginger Gray (Judy Garland), the local postmistress and favorite of all the students, and falls for her. Initially not pleased with what he finds at the school, including the primitive facilities and practical-joking fellow students, he eventually settles in.

Danny and Ginger are devastated when they learn that the college must close due to falling enrollments. Using his father's society and business contacts, he approaches the state governor and extracts a promise that the college may be reprieved if enrollments improve. Danny decides to put on a show to "bring back the old west" and persuades the college dean to buy the first ticket.

Tommy Dorsey's band is engaged to play, the event is a success, student enrollments increase, and the future of the college is assured.


Cast notes:

  • Girl Crazy was June Allyson's film debut.
  • Judy Garland's part, Ginger Gray, was played in the original Broadway stage production by Ginger Rogers.[4]


All songs by George Gershwin (music) and Ira Gershwin (lyrics) except where noted

  1. "Treat Me Rough" - June Allyson, Mickey Rooney and chorus with Tommy Dorsey's orchestra
  2. "Bidin' My Time" - Judy Garland, The King's Men
  3. "Could You Use Me?" - Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland
  4. "Happy Birthday Ginger" (written by Roger Edens)
  5. "Embraceable You" - Rags Ragland and chorus, Judy Garland and chorus, Charles Walters (dancer with Garland)[1]
  6. "Fascinating Rhythm" - Tommy Dorsey's orchestra
  7. "But Not For Me" - Rags Ragland with vocal by Judy Garland
  8. "I Got Rhythm" - Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney and chorus with Tommy Dorsey's orchestra

Choreography for the musical numbers is by Jack Donahue, with Charles Walters responsible for "Embraceable You".[1] An additional production number, "Bronco Busters", which was sung by Garland, Rooney and Nancy Walker, was cut from the film.[1]

The musical numbers were recorded in stereophonic sound but mixed into mono for release to theaters. Rhino Records released a compact disc featuring the original stereo recordings, which include probably the only stereo tracks of Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra.[5]


Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell were originally announced to star in the film as a follow-up to Broadway Melody of 1940.[1][4]

MGM's Roger Edens  the Freed Unit's musical arranger and associate producer, and Garland's mentor  convinced Garland, who was eager to play more adult roles, that one more pairing with Rooney would be a good idea.[4]

Production began in early January 1943 with Busby Berkeley as director. Berkeley had previously directed Rooney and Garland in Babes in Arms (1939), Strike Up the Band (1940) and Babes on Broadway (1941), their biggest hits together, but he was fired for a number of reasons. He and Edens conflicted over Berkeley's staging of I Got Rhythm, with Edens complaining later about Berkeley's "big ensembles and trick cameras [...] with people cracking whips and guns and cannons going off all over my arrangements and Judy's voice". M-G-M was also not happy with the amount of money Berkeley spent on the elaborate production number. The final straw may have been conflicts with Garland, who bridled under Berkeley's demanding style of direction. "I used to feel as if he had a big black bull whip and he was lashing me with it", she wrote. "Sometimes I used to think I couldn't live through the day".[4] "I Got Rhythm" was to be Berkeley's only major contribution to the final film.[6][1]

Norman Taurog took over for Berkeley in early February.[1] His calmer style of direction contrasted sharply with Berkeley's. Film historian Frank N. Magill wrote that Taurog's work "reflected the beginnings of a new style in film musicals", in which the musical numbers were used for the development of the film's characters.[4]

Girl Crazy was partly filmed on location in the desert near Palm Springs, California.[1]

Critical reception

Contemporary reviews of Girl Crazy were generally positive. In The New York Times, Theodore Strauss wrote, "the immortal Mickey [Rooney] [...] is an entertainer to his fingertips. And with Judy [Garland], who sings and acts like an earthbound angel, to temper his brashness, well, they can do almost anything they wish, and we'll like it even in spite of ourselves".[4]

Box office

According to MGM records the film earned $2,608,000 in the US and Canada and $1,163,000 elsewhere resulting in a profit of $1,068,000.[2][7] It was one of the top box office hits of 1943.[1]

The film recorded admissions in France of 898,335.[8]

Home media

Girl Crazy was released on DVD as part of Warner Bros. five-disc DVD set The Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland Collection on September 25, 2007. The set contains Girl Crazy, Babes in Arms, Babes on Broadway, and Strike Up the Band. A fifth bonus disc includes one number ("I Got Rhythm") in stereo, although stereo tracks exist for all the film's musical numbers. MGM technicians transferred the original multi-channel optical film tracks to 1/4" audiotape when ordered to destroy all the elements in the early 1950s; these surviving tracks were released on a stereo CD in 1995.


Informational notes

  1. Garland and Rooney were both guest stars in 1948's Words and Music, but did not appear together.


  1. Girl Crazy at the American Film Institute Catalog
  2. The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  3. Green, Stanley; Schmidt, Elaine. "Girl Crazy, 1943" Hollywood Musicals Year By Year (2 ed.), Hal Leonard Corporation, 2000, ISBN 0-634-00765-3, p. 125
  4. Fristoe, Roger (ndg) "Girl Crazy (1943)" (article)
  5. "Girl Crazy: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: George Gershwin, George Stoll, Ira Gershwin: Music". Retrieved 2012-02-17.
  6. Fordin, Hugh (1975) The World of Entertainment: The Freed Unit at MGM
  7. "Top Grossers of the Season", Variety, 5 January 1944 p 54
  8. Box office information for France in 1945 at Box Office Story
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