Annie Get Your Gun Despite some INCREDIBLE mistakes by MGM executives, “Annie Get Your Gun” is a terrific movie, a triumph for three reasons: Betty Hutton, Betty Hutton and Betty Hutton. Those who might quibble that “Garland would have been a LOT better” should take an objective look at the the outtakes on the DVD. Garland is terrible; way too modern, urbane and understated for the “larger than life” role of Annie Oakley. Rogers and Hammerstein understood what type of person ot took to
play Annie. That’s why they hired Ethyl Merman, who triumphed on Broadway in the role. I’ve always loved Garland and always considered Hutton to be too bombastic. But, here, she is perfect and carries this movie on her the strengh of her “hit ’em in the rafters” performance. In fact, only four actors play it right. Hutton, Brad Muro (Lil’ Jake), J. Carroll Naish (Sitting Bull) and Keenan Wynn. Louis Calhern is usually wonderful; here, his continental, understated style is horribly out of place, turning “Buffalo Bill” into a bore . The usually reliable Edward Arnold seems lost in his unattractive “Pawnee Bill” makeup. Perhaps the biggest disappointment, however, is Howard Keel, who displays little of the charm he revealed in the same year’s “Calloway Went Thataway”. This MUST have been the decision of Louis Mayer and George Sidney. Hutton reported that Mayer didn’t want her, had no confidence in her and didn’t even invite her to the New York premiere. Hutton, radiant even at 80, revealed to Robert Osborne, that she was so miserable by her treatment at MGM (no one applauded ANYONE at the end of shooting a scene), that it finished her career (though another triumph for Hutton, “The Greatest Show on Earth” was just two years away).
Despite its flaws, “Annie Get Your Gun” is a keeper. Why? Betty Hutton, Betty Hutton and Betty Hutton.