Film Review: Annie Get Your Gun
In 1950 George Sidney, Busby Berkeley, and Charles Walters released Annie Get Your Gun, based on the 1946 stage musical of the same name by Dorothy and Herbert Fields. Starring Betty Hutton, Howard Keel, Louis Calhern, J. Carrol Nash, and Benay Venuta, the film grossed $7.8 at the box office.
When Buffao Bill’s Wild West show visits Cincinnati, the star of the show, Frank Butler challenges anyone in town at a shooting match. The owner of the local hotel enters Annie Oakley as his challenger. Oakley falls in love with Butler, wins the contest and is invited to join the show.
While Annie Get Your Gun was plagued with initial production and casting issues, the film that ensued is a pretty good musical and quite a fun movie. What's really interesting is how the film treats Annie. Not only is she an incredibly competent shot, but she’s even better than Frank at trick shooting. It’s a partial inversion to how female characters in media, especially in the 50s, are more passive and defined by their personalities and appearances other than actions. The partial part of it comes in how a love of shooting and being so great at it is part of her personality, as shown in the number “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly.” During the song, she wraps one of her legs around her rifle, using it as sort of another leg. It shows that for her, the rifle is an extension of her and part of who she is. There’s also a bit of subversion in the side of race in regards to the Indians actually being smart. Annie, who’s still learning how to read, asks if one of the Indians from the show knows how to read. Not only does he know how to, but he’s writing a book. The chief also knows never to get involved in show business.
However, Annie knowing how good she is plus the fame that comes with taking the act really goes to her head. It happens so much that it causes contention between her and Frank and he walks out to join another show dropping his decision to propose to her. Eventually though he does come back and proposes to her, but both of their competitive sides hurt their chances. The two agree to another competition, where Davenport and Sitting Bull realize that if she wins, she loses Frank, but if she loses, she gets Frank and hurts her pride. It’s interesting to see how she comes to that realization with the fixed guns and through what Sitting Bull tells her. She understands that she may be good, she may be a perfect shot, but pride and ego get in the way and really doesn’t help anyone or anything.
There’s also some really hilarious moments here, especially when Annie first meets Frank, falls head over heels for him and then starts insulting him when she thinks he’s a boor. Then she realizes he’s her competition, then her partner and she warms up to him. The bait and switch with the reading lessons is also good humor, with the film leading the viewer on to think Annie’s going to help her younger sibling learn to read, but that it’s the younger sibling teaching her. Yet none of these are as memorable or humorous as the entire song "Anything You Can Do," where Annie and Frank continue to try and one-up each other before agreeing to the aforementioned final contest, including Annie not only stating she can hold a note longer than he can but proving that in fact she can. Said song also includes the two of them admitting that neither can bake a pie right after proclaiming the ability to do almost anything.
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- Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture
- Most Popular Female Star (Betty Hutton)
- Third Place - Best Actress (Betty Hutton)
Writers Guild of America Awards
- Best Written American Musical
- Best Cinematography, Color
- Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color
- Best Film Editing
Golden Globe Awards
- Best Actress - Comedy or Musical (Betty Hutton
Picturegoer Gold Medal Awards
- Best Actor (Howard Keel)