Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2018) on… For Me And My Gal (1942)

And we’re back again, for another request, this time on the 1942 MGM musical For Me And My Gal, starring Judy Garland, George Murphy and Gene Kelly.

The movie starts out in 1916. Judy Garland plays Jo Hayden, and Gene Kelly is Harry Palmer, two vaudevillians. Harry is a tramp comic, while Jo is part of a troupe, along with Jimmy Metcalf (George Murphy). Harry convinces Jo to leave Jimmy’s act and join him. Over time, we see Jo develop feelings for Harry, although he doesn’t notice, and in his impatience to get to the Palace Theater in New York (the dream of every vaudevillian), he almost joins a more famous actress. In trying to leave, he finally realizes he loves Jo, and they make plans to get married after they have done a show at the Palace. All the while, the U.S. is slowly being drawn into the first World War, resulting in Harry being drafted right before they are scheduled to play the Palace. Will they be able to do so, or will the war prevent that from happening?

Part of the movie’s fame is that it is Gene Kelly’s film debut. Fresh off his Broadway success, particularly with Pal Joey, he came to Hollywood, and got his role in this movie partly due to Judy’s influence (since she had seen him in Pal Joey). From what I have heard, there was originally a different ending (but what it was, I don’t know), but after previews, they decided to make Gene’s character more sympathetic to wartime audiences. Considering that he, as the newcomer, still managed to be given the happy ending (instead of giving it to George Murphy, who had been in the movies a number of years), was pretty impressive, indeed!

This movie is a wonderful musical. While very little of the music itself advances the plot, most of it is used, either on stage, or off-stage, as Harry and Jo see if they can work together, or when one performer is showing off to another. Obviously, the background “orchestra” during some of the off-stage stuff might distract (but, considering that’s par for the course on most musicals, I would say that’s not a big deal). This is a wonderful movie, and one I would highly recommend!

The movie is available on DVD from Warner Brothers, and is one hour, forty-three minutes in length.

My Rating: 9/10

Audience Rating:

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