What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Girl Crazy (1943)

We’re back again for another one of the Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland musicals, their 1943 film Girl Crazy!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Hollywood Daredevils (1943)

(Available as an extra on the Girl Crazy Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 9 minutes, 21 seconds)

A short looking at Hollywood stuntman Harry Woolman.  Being a Pete Smith Specialty short, we obviously have Pete Smith narrating it with his usual humor.  We see various stunts performed on the beach, with one recurring one that takes a few times for it to come off.  Not a great short, but not absolutely terrible, either.

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Early Bird Dood It! (1942)

(Available as an extra on the Girl Crazy Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 8 minutes, 51 seconds)

The Worm asks for help from a cat to deal with the Early Bird.  One of Tex Avery’s first shorts for MGM.  Some of his trademark humor here, and a sly wink at the audience as we see a reference to the cartoon itself on a billboard.  Not restored yet, but the humor still shines through enough to have a few good laughs!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Danny Churchill, Jr. (Mickey Rooney) is getting into a lot of trouble going out to nightclubs and shows with a lot of girls.  As the son of a big publisher, that brings a lot of notoriety, much to the consternation of his father (Henry O’Neill).  So, he decides to send his son out west to Cody College, where there are no girls.  After getting off the train, Danny finds that he has to walk eight miles through the desert to get to the college.  On the way, he runs across the postmistress, Ginger Gray (Judy Garland), trying to repair her vehicle.  He tries to help (and flirt a little, too), but she rejects him and, once the car gets started, drives off without him.  Once he gets to the college, he meets his roommate, Bud Livermore (Gil Stratton), before he gets settles in for the night.  The morning comes too quickly for him, as everyone gets up at six, in preparation for a day-long ride out into the hills to camp out overnight.  Not too long into the trip, Danny loses his wilder-than-he-would-have-preferred horse, and catches a ride out with “Rags” (as played by “Rags” Ragland).  When he gets back to Cody the next day, Danny talks to Dean Phineas Armour (Guy Kibbee) (who is also Ginger’s grandfather) about withdrawing from the college.  Ginger drives him back to the train station, but tells him off for being a quitter before she drops him off.  That night, everybody at Cody celebrates her birthday, with her boyfriend Henry Lathrop (Robert E. Strickland) taking her off alone to propose to her in a rather un-romantic fashion (and, in case you need to know, she says “no”).  Danny, meanwhile, had returned, and overheard the whole conversation. After Henry leaves, Danny reveals his presence and expresses his desire to stay.  Trouble arrives shortly, though, when the legislature threatens to close the college for lack of students being enrolled.  This really gets to Ginger, and Danny, in spite of the fact that he doesn’t care for the school, comes up with an idea to save it. He makes plans to have a big rodeo and beauty contest to help draw in more people.  After running the idea by the dean and convincing the  governor to delay signing the bill to close the college by thirty days, Danny goes to a party for the governor’s daughter, Marjorie Tait (Frances Rafferty), where he starts trying to persuade her and a few other girls to join the contest in hopes of being the “queen of the rodeo.”  The problem is that Ginger is in that contest, and Danny wants Marjorie to win if only because of her position.  Can Danny stay in Ginger’s good graces and save the school?

The 1943 film Girl Crazy was based on a 1930 Broadway show, which originally starred Ginger Rogers as Molly Gray (and the name change for Judy Garland’s character in the film was a tribute to her).  In 1932, the RKO studio made a film featuring their comedy team of (Bert) Wheeler and (Robert) Woolsey, although it focused more on the comedy and not so much on the music.  MGM bought the rights to the show, intending it as a movie to reunite Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell after their success in Broadway Melody Of 1940.  Obviously, that changed, with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland being teamed up again.  At first, the film was to be directed by Busby Berkeley, who filmed the “I Got Rhythm” number.  However, he was fired after that was filmed, a combination of the costs being too high, as well as issues between him and Judy Garland.  The rest of the film was handled, with far less controversy, by director Norman Taurog.

I’ve only had the chance to see this movie a handful of times, but I will readily admit that I enjoy it!  Obviously, with music provided by George and Ira Gershwin, combined with Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra playing it, that’s hard to beat!  It’s fun to listen to the orchestra playing “Fascinating Rhythm” with Mickey Rooney sitting in on the piano, and Judy gives us a wonderful rendition of “But Not For Me.”  But the film’s two best moments would have to be Judy singing (and dancing) to “Embraceable You” and the whole cast doing “I Got Rhythm.”  Of course, between these two, we do see how Judy Garland herself could do, depending on who she was working with.  Considering how she apparently didn’t get along with Busby Berkeley (and was possibly overworked by him), it seems telling that, for the “I Got Rhythm” number, her dancing doesn’t look that great compared to those around her, and yet, for the earlier song (well, earlier in the movie although it was filmed later) “Embraceable You,” which was choreographed by her dance partner Charles Walter, she looks like a great dancer.  Both fun routines, though, in spite of that, and I could easily watch either of them (and get the songs stuck in my head, too)!  While, as I said, I’ve only had the chance to see the movie a few times, I can’t deny that it is a fun one, and I have no trouble whatsoever recommending it!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection utilizing a 4K scan of the best surviving preservation elements, which in this case was a second generation safety fine grain.  The movie itself hasn’t really looked that good for a long time (to be fair, I don’t really remember how it looked exactly when I saw it once a decade ago, but from the footage I have seen used in the That’s Entertainment film series, it definitely needed work), but Warner Archive has done it again!  Now, the film looks as good as one could hope for, especially with all the dirt and debris cleaned up! I’d certainly say that this release is the best way to enjoy this wonderful movie!

Film Length: 1 hour, 39 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #4 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2020

**ranked #9 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2020

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Strike Up The Band (1940) – Mickey Rooney

For Me And My Gal (1942) – Judy Garland – Meet Me In St. Louis (1944)

June Allyson – Good News (1947)

2 thoughts on “What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Girl Crazy (1943)

  1. Dear Neil,

    I just nominated you for a Blogger Recognition Award: https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2020/08/28/the-blogger-recognition-award/. By the way, in this post I invited you and the other nominees to join my upcoming blogathon, the Joe Pasternak Blogathon (https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2020/08/21/announcing-the-joe-pasternak-blogathon/) and my monthly guest series, What the Code Means to Me (https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2018/12/17/what-the-code-means-to-me/). I would be honored if you would join one or both of these!

    Yours Hopefully,

    Tiffany Brannan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I saw your nomination, and I thank you for it! I also saw your blogathon and your guest series. I wish I could join the blogathon, but at the moment, I’m feeling a little overbooked on everything, so I don’t think I can manage it. Thank you for the invite, though, and I hope I can get in on a future blogathon when I’m a little more free!

      Liked by 1 person

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