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

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

Coming Up Shorts! with… For Pete’s Sake! (1934)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 4 (1933-1935) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 18 minutes, 6 seconds)

Wally (Wally Albright) and the Gang try to fix up a doll for Marianne (Marianne Edwards), but a bully breaks her doll. So the Gang tries to get her a new doll, but they have to deal with the bully and his father to get it. This short was quite entertaining, managing to tug on the heartstrings while still making us laugh! It’s at its funniest when the kids try to earn some money by beating some rugs and cutting the grass, but Spanky (George McFarland) and Scotty (Scotty Beckett) are consistently funny as they try to tell the other kids what they’re doing wrong. I enjoyed this one, and certainly look forward to revisiting it in the future!

Coming Up Shorts! with… La Fiesta de Santa Barbara (1935)

(Available as an extra on the For Me And My Gal Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 18 minutes, 41 seconds)

This Technicolor short features a Spanish festival and show. Most of the fun here is seeing various Hollywood celebrities of the era, including a VERY early appearance by Judy Garland alongside her sisters. The music and dancing provide the rest of the entertainment. There is some (admittedly weak) humor here, provided by Andy Devine (as a “bullfighter”) and Buster Keaton, who provides a “bull” for him to fight. Nothing spectacular here (outside of seeing some of those celebrities in color), so this short is maybe worth one viewing but nothing beyond that.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Every Sunday (1936)

(Available as an extra on the For Me And My Gal Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 10 minutes, 33 seconds)

The Professor’s (Wright Kramer) orchestra isn’t gathering crowds in the park anymore, so the city officials are considering a change in orchestras. However, with the help of his granddaughter, Edna (Deanna Durbin), her friend Judy (Judy Garland) and Judy’s father (Richard Powell), they are able to attract big crowds again. This short’s main appeal is the presence of Deanna Durbin (in her debut) and Judy Garland. They both get a solo, and also sing together to finish the short. The plot itself isn’t much to write home about, but thankfully, most of the short is devoted to Judy and Deanna singing, which makes this one worth seeing every now and then!

And Now For The Main Feature…

The movie starts out in 1916, in the small town of Clifton Junction, Iowa. A bunch of vaudevillians have just come to town on the train. One of them, dancer and tramp comic Harry Palmer (Gene Kelly), is arrogant and quickly gets on the nerves of Jo Hayden (Judy Garland), who is part of a troupe under the leadership of Jimmy Metcalfe (George Murphy). However, Harry convinces Jo to leave Jimmy’s act and join him as part of a song-and-dance act. Over time, we see Jo develop feelings for Harry, although he is more concerned with getting to the Palace Theater in New York City (the dream of every vaudevillian). In his impatience to get there, Harry almost joins a more famous actress when she makes him an offer, much to Jo’s dismay. In trying to leave, Harry finally realizes that he loves Jo, and they make plans to get married after they have done their first show at the Palace. All the while, the U.S. has been drawn into the conflict of the first World War, which results in Harry getting a draft notice right when they learn that they are scheduled to play the Palace. Will they be able to perform at the Palace (and get married), or will the war prevent that from happening?

The idea for the movie started out with a script entitled “The Big Time,” which would have followed Harry Palmer, who was supposed to be in a relationship with two different women: a singer (a role which was planned for Judy Garland), and a dancer (whom he was supposed to marry and then betray). On the advice of acting coach Stella Adler, producer Arthur Freed combined the two roles and gave Judy the part. Originally, George Murphy was given the role of Harry Palmer, but he was switched to Jimmy Metcalfe when Arthur, on the advice of both Stella and Judy, gave Hollywood newcomer Gene Kelly the role. This film provided Judy with a more dramatic role, as she embraced being given a more adult role for the entire film (as opposed to an adult role for part of the film like in Little Nellie Kelly two years earlier). Judy was also generous in helping Gene adjust to acting for the camera (as opposed to the stage). Reshoots were required when preview audiences complained about the film’s original ending, due to Harry Palmer being such an unsympathetic character, and so Gene was given new scenes to help wartime audiences sympathize with his character more. Of course, the film proved to be a hit, helping Gene get his start in Hollywood, while also proving Judy’s dramatic abilities.

I will readily admit that I’ve seen this movie many times over the years, and it’s one that I’ve always enjoyed. In general, I like so much of the period music, which helps set the stage for what vaudevillian performances were (probably) like. In particular, I like the stuff early on in the film with Judy Garland and George Murphy with their “doll shop” and “beach” routines (in particular, their version of the classic song “By The Beautiful Sea” is quite the earworm, and is my personal favorite version of that song). But, obviously, the real fun is seeing Judy and Gene Kelly working together. Even though it’s their first film together, you can tell right when they do the title tune that they have great chemistry (and that helps make that song and dance another one of my favorite moments from this film). Realistically, the vaudevillian lifestyle portrayed in this film makes this musical function a lot better (at least, there’s generally a reason for everybody to start singing and dancing, as opposed to just breaking into song completely out of the blue). It really continues to astound me that this film was directed by Busby Berkeley, since it lacks his famous overhead shots and kaleidoscopic “dances.” And I appreciate that, as he allows everyone to actually dance for entire routines. Plain and simple, this is a wonderful movie, one that I love to come back to again and again, and, for that reason, I have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending this one very highly!

The movie is available on DVD from Warner Brothers.

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) with… For Me And My Gal (1942)

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On June 7, 2022, Warner Archive Collection released For Me And My Gal on the Blu-ray format. The transfer comes from a 4K scan of the best available preservation elements. Quite simply stated, it’s a typical (great looking) Warner Archive release. The detail is much improved over the previously available DVD, and the picture has been cleaned up of all scratches, dust and debris. Otherwise translated, the Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection is the way to go when seeing this movie now!

Film Length: 1 hour, 44 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

My Rating (after Blu-ray): 10/10

*ranked #5 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2022

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Little Nellie Kelly (1940) – Judy Garland – Girl Crazy (1943)

Gene KellyAnchors Aweigh (1945)

Tom, Dick And Harry (1941) – George Murphy

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