Annie Get Your Gun
A word of warning to those obsessed with political correctness: Annie Get Your Gun is not for you. What with its rampant Indian (er, Native American) stereotypes and the decidedly unfeminist way Annie eventually wins her man, this classic MGM musical would no doubt leave you running for cover. But for those of you who are ready, willing, and able to cast off the trappings of the 21st century and head back to a time when movie musicals were as Technicolorful, showy, and un-P.C. as it gets, Annie Get Your Gun is rootin' tootin' entertainment. Based on the true-life story of Wild West sensation Annie Oakley, Annie follows the female sharpshooter as she transforms from a scruffy, freckled quail peddler into a rose leaf-complexioned showbiz star. As played by Betty Hutton, Annie is a delightful combination of plain-spoken frankness (a la Ethel Mertz) and the innocent "golly gee" blondness of Beverly Hillbilly Ellie May Clampett. All Annie wants is to be near Frank Butler (the marvelously deep-voiced Howard Keel), who begins the movie as the kind of conceited, cocky dandy that Disney's Beauty and the Beast so niftily made fun of with the character of Gaston. When Annie beats Frank in a shooting competition, she quickly attracts the attention of showman Col. Buffalo Bill (Louis Calhern), and before you know it the whole crew is touring the country together, belting out "There's No Business Like Show Business" and wowing audiences wherever they go. Frank even starts to return Annie's affection, but his swelled head gets in the way when her star begins to eclipse his. Will the sharpshooting love birds get together? Well, this is a Hollywood musical. And speaking of music, Annie's score is packed with the Irving Berlin-penned favorites that made the show a hit on Broadway. In addition to the showstopping "Show Business," the list of songs includes "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly," "I Got the Sun in the Morning," and the always-amusing duet "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better." Annie Get Your Gun had never been released for home viewing prior to 2000, and it gets a bang-up treatment for its DVD debut. The new full-frame transfer is eye-poppingly crisp and clear the bright colors and elaborate sets fairly jump off the screen. And the roster of special features on board is impressive, including the theatrical trailer, a text history of the Broadway production, a full-length audio recording of the film's signature song ("There's No Business Like Show Business"), brief bios for the principal cast and crew, a special introduction by soap-opera queen Susan Lucci (she briefly starred in the Broadway revival), and four outtake musical numbers. The outtakes are by far the best extra on the disc, since two of the songs ("Doin' What Comes Natur'lly" and "I'm an Indian Too") feature the film's original star, Judy Garland, who ended up bowing out due to exhaustion and illness. The "Colonel Buffalo Bill" clip is another glimpse at what might have been Frank Morgan, who was originally cast as Bill but died unexpectedly soon after filming started, is the one astride the big white horse in this version of the movie's opening number. The final song, "Let's Go West Again," is sung by Hutton, but ended up being cut from the finished movie. Snap-case.