ABOUT THE FILM:
"There's No Business Like Show Business" took on a whole new meaning during the filming of Annie Get Your Gun. The production seemed to be cursed from the beginning, even though it all started innocently enough. Ethel Merman triumphed as Annie Oakley when the show premiered on Broadway on May 16, 1946. It went on to run for 1,147 performances. Immediately after the opening, every singing actress in Hollywood wanted to play the role on film. Not only was it a great part and a great show, but each one of Irving Berlin's songs were (and still are) great as well. Naturally, Arthur Freed wanted to make the film version starring MGM's premier musical leading lady, Judy Garland. Irving Berlin agreed. Judy, however, was not physically nor mentally up to taking on the demands of such a strenuous role.
Judy began Annie on March 7, 1949 with wardrobe work and song rehearsals. She had been promised a vacation but was coaxed into preliminary work. Prerecordings segued into rehearsals and costume tests and so on. The vacation never happened. The result is that Judy went into the production running on half the energy at which she normally functioned. Musical supervisor Lela Simone recalled a day that she and Roger Edens were present as Judy recorded some of the songs: "In the monitor booth, for the first time Roger and I smiled each other into a more or less artificial enthusiasm, 'that was very nice, wasn't it?' we said. 'Nice' was a term we had never used for Judy before."
Actual filming began on April 4, 1949 without Judy, who wasn't needed that day. As Hugh Fordin pointed out in his book about The Freed Unit titled The World of Entertainment,"it seemed as though the production office had set up the shooting schedule to keep Judy away from director Busby Berkeley as much as possible. The choice of Berkeley as director is a clear indication that producer Arthur Freed had little to no understanding about the extent of Judy's issues at the time, nor her intense incompatibility with Berkeley. Freed chose Berkeley in an effort to give the director, whom Freed revered but who's career was in decline, a chance at a comeback. That Berkeley was called a "taskmaster" was no exaggeration. As far back as 1939 and his work on Babes In Arms, there were signs of incompatibility. The final straw came with 1943's Girl Crazy and the "I Got Rhythm" number. He drove everyone into the ground, putting Judy on bed rest for several weeks.
On the second day of shooting co-star Howard Keel fell off his horse. His absence naturally shifted the burden of filming to Judy. Her first scenes shot for the film were devoted to the "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly" sequence on the exterior set of the "Wilson Hotel." She first worked with dance director Robert Alton on the rehearsals and staging. Reportedly, on the first day of filming for the sequence, Berkeley began shouting at the crew. This upset Judy enough to prompt her to leave the set for the day feigning illness. Allegedly, when she saw some of the dailies a few days later, she got up, went over to a water cooler and downed a handful of Benzedrines. The sequence was completed on April 9th.
Days later rehearsals began for the "I'm An Indian Too" production number with Alton. Contract dancer and assistant choreographer Alex Romero reported that in some instances he had to hold Judy up to keep her from falling flat on her face. He said he had "never seen anyone so far gone on drugs." Freed came to the set on one day and witnessed Judy losing her footing. He ran over to her and began shouting at her, to the embarrassment of the cast and crew. Clearly the stress of the experience was taking its toll on everyone involved.
Finally, on May 3rd, Freed looked at the existing footage and fired Berkeley. He said "[Berkeley] had no conception of what the picture was all about. He was shooting the whole thing like a stage play. Everyone would come out of the wings, say their lines and back away upstage for their exists." That next day he contacted director Charles Walters (Judy's original first choice) who later recalled: "Arthur asked me to come in and look at the Annie footage. So I went - and my God - it was horrible! Judy was at her worst. She couldn't decide whether she was Ethel Merman, Mary Martin, Martha Raye or herself. 'I want you to take over the picture,' Arthur said, 'Okay, but first I must have a long talk with Judy.'" When they met a day later, Judy told Walters "It's too late, Chuck, I haven't got the energy or the nerve anymore." In spite of her plea, Walters was able to convince her to carry on.
Judy tried again. The surviving footage reveals her to be in much better shape than had been reported over the years, but there's no denying the fatigue showing in her face and (at times) a lack of that special Garland sparkle. This is most noticeable in the "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly" footage. If Judy had been at her usual brilliant best, she would have worked wonders with the role.
On May 10, 1949 Judy was fired from the film. That day was a particularly harrowing one for her. At 7:30 a.m. she had called the assistant director, Al Jennings, stating she had a bad night, and wasn't sure if she would be able to get to the studio. She felt better during the call, and said she'd be in but would be late. At 10:10 a.m. Judy checked through the front gate. After being made up she reported to the set, but not in costume. She said she had a severe migraine and was unsure if she could perform the number "I'm An Indian Too." She rehearsed with Robert Alton until 11:55 when the production stopped for lunch. At 1:30 p.m. Judy was given a letter from L.K. Sidney firing her from the film, specifically citing her as being "responsible for substantial delays." It was a devastating blow, made worse by the fact that no one in the production (not even Walters or Alton) was aware the letter of suspension was being delivered. Production manager Walter Strohm told Jennings to get Judy in an attempt to continue shooting. Judy's reply was "I shall never come back - now or ever." L.B. Mayer ordered the production closed. According to Fordin: "Only a few technicians were still wrapping up their equipment when Judy's hairdresser emerged from her dressing room. 'Where is everybody?' she asked Jennings. 'Get them ball back: Judy is on her way.' When Judy came out everybody had gone."
Production on Annie was resumed in September with Betty Hutton in the lead, and the film was finally completed. It was released on May 23, 1950 and became MGM's biggest musical hit of the year.
Many people have assumed that the blame for this fiasco lies on Judy's shoulders. In reality, and from the beginning, she had tried to convince the studio that the direction was wrong, and she needed to get well. She tried working with the studio as much as she physically could, as evidenced in her attempt on May 4, 1949 to have the studio suspend her pay for that day (she felt she had inconvenienced the studio by her inability to work). But by the time Freed replaced Berkeley with Walters it was, as Judy tried to tell him, "too late." Walters would later be replaced by George Sidney. To add to the pressures on Judy's already shaky shoulders was Keel's accident keeping him out for six weeks, and the death of the original Buffalo Bill, Frank Morgan. But the real blame lies with Freed and the studio. It's inconceivable that they could have possibly thought that after the previous year's ups and downs, Judy would be able to take on the demands of a big budget musical without sufficient rest. March 1948 through March 1949 (when Judy began work on Annie) had been especially tough on her physical and mental health. She completed Easter Parade, filmed two songs for a guest appearance in Words And Music, began but couldn't complete The Barkleys Of Broadway, then filmed (and completed) In The Good Old Summertime. During this period Judy did have some time off, but it wasn't sufficient enough for her to successfully deal with her problems. To the studio, Judy was contractually bound to appear in two films a year and they were going to get their money's worth. In the end, it was MGM's loss. They lost out on Annie being a real musical masterpiece due to Judy's presence and a year later they lost Judy herself when she was finally given a release from her contract.
In the years since, film fans have speculated on "what might have been" if Judy were well enough to successfully complete Annie Get Your Gun. To further add to the mystique, MGM Records included (without explanation) Judy's recording of "You Can't Get A Man With A Gun" on many of their Garland compilations. The rest of Judy's prerecordings popped up on various bootleg albums in the 1960's and 1970's, usually with poor to horrible sound quality. The outtake footage of "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly" and "I'm An Indian Too" has survived and was traded underground for years before popping up on some bootleg videotapes in the 1980's. Some of this footage made its official appearance in 1994's That's Entertainment! III. The soundtrack album to that film included the official release of the prerecordings for the two numbers, followed by the 1996 release of the rest of Judy's songs on the Rhino CD Collector's Gems from the M-G-M Films. Finally, in 2000, most of the outtake footage was released on the DVD of the completed film, and all of outtake songs were included on the single CD soundtrack that featured both films.
March 7, 1949: Judy's first day of work on Annie consists of wardrobe fittings and a song rehearsal (song title not specified).
March 8, 1949: Rehearsals of "Anything You Can Do" and "They Say It's Wonderful" with Howard Keel in Rehearsal Hall A.
March 9, 1949: More rehearsals of "Anything You Can Do," "The Say It's Wonderful" with Howard Keel plus rehearsal of "You Can't Get A Man With A Gun."
March 10, 1949: More rehearsals of the numbers listed above, with the addition of "The Girl That I Marry." Judy was three hours late, working from 2 p.m. to 4:20 p.m.
March 11, 1949: More rehearsals of the numbers listed above. Judy arrived at 11:30 a.m. and worked through 5:15 p.m. with an hour for lunch.
March 15, 1949: Wardrobe fittings, plus more rehearsals of the numbers listed above.
March 16, 1949: Wardrobe fittings, plus more rehearsals of the numbers listed above.
March 17, 1949: Wardrobe and makeup tests cancelled as Judy was sick. She called and said she'd be ready at 2 p.m. rather than 10 a.m., citing "intestinal flu." At 3:45 p.m. she called Jennings again stating that she wouldn't make it in at all. She would be out sick the following two days.
March 21, 1949: Wardrobe and makeup tests (10 a.m. to lunch) plus rehearsal of "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly" (1 - 4:40 p.m.).
March 22, 1949: Wardrobe fittings (11 a.m. - Noon) plus rehearsal of "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly" (2 - 3:20 p.m.).
March 23, 1949: Rehearsals of "There's No Business Like Show Business" and "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly."
March 24, 1949: Assistant director Al Jennings reported: "Miss Garland was in at 8:30 a.m. to have hair dyed; Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; due on set: 1:15. Arrived at 1:15; due to illness of Frank Morgan, rehearsal was cancelled and Mr. Keel made comparative makeup test with Miss Garland from 2 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dismissed at 3:50 p.m."
March 25, 1949: Recording session: "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly" and "You Can't Get A Man With A Gun."
March 28, 1949: Recording session: "They Say It's Wonderful" (with Howard Keel) plus the reprise of "The Girl That I Marry."
March 29, 1949: Silent makeup and hairdress tests. Judy arrived at 10 a.m. and was dismissed at 11 a.m.
March 30, 1949: Recording session: "Let's Go West Again." Judy and husband Vincente Minnelli announce their separation.
March 31, 1949: Recording session: "There's No Business Like Show Business" (with Howard Keel, Frank Morgan, and Keenan Wynn).
April 1, 1949: Recording session: "Anything You Can Do" (with Howard Keel) and "I've Got The Sun In The Morning."
April 2, 1949: Silent wardrobe and hairdress tests on Stage #4 with J. Carrol Naish & Geraldine Wall.
April 6, 1949: Filming begins with the "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly" song and dialog on the Exterior Wilson Hotel set.
April 7, 1949: More filming of "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly."
April 8, 1949: Filming on the Exterior N.Y. Pier set.
April 9, 1949: Filming on the Interior Pullman Car set.
April 11, 1949: Judy was out sick.
April 12, 1949: Rehearsal on the Interior Pullman Car set from 9:18 - 11 a.m. Judy then worked with "Alton Unit" until Noon.
April 13, 1949: Filming on the Interior Pullman Car set and the U.S. Travel Montage.
April 14, 1949: Filming of the "U.S. Travel and European Montage Cuts" plus rehearsal on the Interior Ferry set.
April 15, 1949: Judy worked with Roger Edens from 1:30 - 2:30 p.m.
April 18, 1949: Rehearsals of "I'm An Indian Too" with the Alton Unit.
April 19, 1949: More "I'm An Indian Too" rehearsals.
April 20, 1949: Wardrobe and makeup tests on Stage 4.
April 21, 1949: Rehearsals of "I'm An Indian Too" from 1:50 - 3:20 p.m. (Judy was due on the set by 2 p.m.).
April 23, 1949: Filming of the "U.S. and European Montages."
April 25, 1949: Recording session: "I'm An Indian Too."
April 27, 1949: Filming begins for "I'm An Indian Too." 10:30 - 5:30 p.m. with hour for lunch.
April 28, 1949: Filming of "I'm An Indian Too." 9 a.m. - 4: 10 p.m. with hour for lunch. Al Jennings reported: "3:18 - 3:25 p.m.: Wait for Miss Garland: had to leave stage."
April 29, 1949: Filming of "I'm An Indian Too." Judy was on time for an "on set" call at 11 a.m. Hour for lunch then company dismissed at 5:55 p.m.
April 30, 1949: Filming of "I'm An Indian Too." Judy arrived on the set at 10:05 a.m. (only 5 minutes late). Hour for lunch then company dismissed at 5:45 p.m.
May 2, 1949: Filming of "I'm An Indian Too." Judy was on the set and on time at 9 a.m. Hour for lunch. Al Jennings reported: "2:01-2:18 - Wait for Miss Garland - went to her dressing room ill at 1:30 p.m.; doctor called and was to meet her there. Miss Garland on arrival at studio informed Asst. Director that she was indisposed and not feeling well, but that she would work until the number was completed and the dancing group would be finished after which time she would go home. Time dismissed: 2:40 p.m. - went home ill."
May 3, 1949: Per Al Jennings, Judy was out sick. However, it's also been noted that there was a serious blowup between Judy and Busby Berkeley on this day.
May 4, 1949: Filming of the "U.S. and European Montage - London, Italian, French Box (Interior Royal Box)." Judy arrived on the set at 9 a.m. but went home ill at 11:50 a.m. This is the day that Judy felt so bad about leaving early that she asked not to be paid for the day as noted in the following memo from production manager Walter C. Strohm to J.J. Cohn (copying Eddie Mannix & Arthur Freed):
Miss Garland called me at 2:15 P.M. today and was very upset that she was unable to continue working for the day and had caused so much inconvenience and said that she would personally feel better if we would not pay her for today.
Miss Garland had a 9 A.M. call with the Ballbusch unit to shoot montage scenes in the "Int. Royal Box." She arrived on the stage at 8:45 A.M. and worked until 11:45 A.M., at which time she notified the assistant director that she was feeling ill and could not continue working the balance of the day.
For your information, the scenes we were shooting this morning required $1,240 worth of "bits" and "extras." When Miss Garland returns to work it will be necessary to call back eighteen people at $15.56 each and one bit at $100 and will require approximately two hours to complete this sequence in the "Int. Royal Box."
May 5, 1949: Busby Berkeley is fired from the film. Judy spends three hours in conference with new director Charles Walter's office.
May 6, 1949: Judy's 2 p.m. rehearsal call is cancelled at 11 a.m.
May 7, 1949: Judy was not needed this day.
May 8, 1949: New rehearsals of "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly." Judy arrived on time at 2 p.m., company dismissed at 3:25 p.m.
May 10, 1949: Judy's last day of filming was to be devoted to "I'm An Indian Too" but progressed as detailed in the memo from Al Jennings to Walter Strohm, dated May 10, 1949:
At 7:30AM today Miss Garland called me and said that she had overslept. She also complained that she wasn't feeling well and had spent a very bad night, and didn't know whether or not she would be able to come to the studio. After fifteen minutes of conversation with her she said that she was feeling better and would come in to the studio but that she might be a little late.
At 8:30AM Dorothy Pondell [sic], makeup woman for Miss Garland, called me and said that Miss Garland just spoke to her on the phone and said that she would be late for work at the studio but that she would be in.
At 9:20AM Miss Garland called the stage and told me once again that she was coming in and would be in the studio by 10AM
At 9:30AM Mr. Alton had finished rehearsing the dancers in new routine for the shot to be made with Miss Garland, and we were now waiting for Miss Garland as there was nothing else to shoot. Had Miss Garland been on the set on time Mr. Alton could have rehearsed with her.
At 10:10AM Miss Garland checked thru the gate and went to her dressing room to be made up.
At 10:30AM Miss Garland called me and said that she would be right down on the set.
At 11:03AM it was decided to Line and lite a closeup of J. Carroll Naish who had an 11AM call. Meanwhile, Miss Garland arrived on the set made up but not wardrobed at 11:18A.M She complained of a severe migrain [sic] headache, and said she did not know whether or not she would be able to do the number. She further stated that she was certain that she would be unable to do the dialogue scene which was scheduled to be shot immediately after completion of the number.
Mr. Alton rehearsed dance with Miss Garland from 11:18AM to 11:55AM.
At 11:55AM Mr. Freed called and said to dismiss the company for lunch and that after lunch we should shoot the closeup of Mr. Naish. He also said that he would discuss the remainder of the day's shooting after lunch.
At 1:13PM company finished shooting closeup of Mr. Naish.
From 1:13 to 1:22PM company set-up for original shot with Miss Garland.
At 1:20PM I called Miss Garland and she said she was leaving for the set immediately. As I hung up the phone Mr. Hendrickson arrived on the stage and asked for Miss Garland. Mr. Woehler took him to Miss Garland's dressing room. A few minutes later Miss Pondell called me and said Miss Garland was very upset about something and was trying to locate Mr. Freed.
At 2:00PM, pursuant to your instruction, I again called Miss Garland and told her the company was waiting for her. Miss Garland said, "She had received a very nasty note from the front office and that she was not coming back to this picture now or ever again."
At this time you and I left the stage and went to see Mr. Freed who instructed us to dismiss the company as there was nothing else that could be shot without Miss Garland.
Company was dismissed at 2:10PM.
[This was Judy's last day on the film. Later on this afternoon MGM fired her from the production and put her on suspension].
May 10, 1949: F.L. Hendrickson sent a memo to the front office ("Messrs. Strickling, Witbeck, Wheelright, Datig, Grady, Kress, Strohm, Craig, Arthur Freed") stating: "For your information, Judy Garland's contract has been suspended commencing as of May 10, 1949. She is not to be called or requested to render services of any kind whatsoever unless the matter is cleared with Mr. Mannix or Mr. Schary."
May 29, 1949: Judy enters Peter Brent Brigham Hospital in Boston to get better and cure her prescription medication dependence. The studio paid for her doctor and the hospitalization. Judy would not return to work at the studio until October when she began rehearsals for Summer Stock with Gene Kelly.
Judy Garland as Annie Oakley (replaced with Betty Hutton)
Howard Keel as Frank Butler
Frank Morgan as Buffalo Bill (replaced with Louis Calhern)
J. Carrol Naish as Chief Sitting Bull
Edward Arnold as Pawnee Bill
Keenan Wynn as Charlie Davenport
Geraldine Wall as Dolly Tate (replaced with Benay Venuta)
Clinton Sundberg as Foster Wilson
James H. Harrison as Mac
Peter Price as Little Jake Oakley (replaced with Bradley Mora)
Sharon McManus as Jessie Oakley (replaced with Susan Odin)
Carol Sue Sherwood as Nellie Oakley (replaced with Diana Dick)
Jeanette Williams as Minnie Oakley (replaced with Eleanor Brown)
Chief Yowlachie as Little Horse
Robert Malcolm as Conductor
Lee Tung Foo as Waiter
William Tannen as Barker
Anne O'Neal as Miss Willoughby
Evelyn Beresford as Queen Victoria
John Hamilton as Ship Captain
William Bill Hall as Tall Man
Edward Earle as Footman
Marjorie Wood as Constance
Elizabeth Flournoy as Helen
Mae Clarke as Mrs. Adams
Frank Wilcox as Mr. Clay
Andre Charlot as President Loubet of France
Nino Pipitone as King Victor Emmanuel of Italy
John Mylong as Kaiser Wilhelm II
Carl Sepulveda, Carol Henry, Fred Gilman as Cowboys
Colonel Buffalo Bill
Doin' What Comes Natur'lly
The Girl That I Marry
You Can't Get A Man With A Gun
There's No Business Like Show Business
They Say It's Wonderful
There's No Business Like Show Business (reprise)
I'm An Indian, Too
Let's Go West Again
The Girl That I Marry (reprise)
I've Got The Sun In The Morning
Anything You Can Do
Producer: Arthur Freed
Associate Producer (uncredited): Roger Edens
Directors: Busby Berkeley, Charles Walters, George Sidney
Screen Play: Sidney Sheldon
(based on the play by Irving Berlin, Herbert Fields and Dorothy Fields)
Musical Numbers Staged By: Robert Alton
Musical Director: Adolph Deutsch
Songs: Irving Berlin
Women's Costumes: Helen Rose and Walter Plunkett
Men's Costumes: Walter Plunkett
Makeup: Jack Dawn
Hair Stylist: Sydney Guilaroff
Hair Stylist (uncredited): Martha Acker
Makeup (uncredited): Ben Lane
Art Directors: Cedric Gibbons and Paul Groesse
Set Decorators: Edwin B. Willis and Richard A. Pefferle
Color Consultants: Henri Jaffa and James Gooch
Sound: Douglas Shearer
Sound (uncredited): Norwood A. Fenton
Special Effects: A. Arnold Gillespie and Warren Newcombe
Montage: Peter Ballbusch
Cinematography/Director of Photography: Charles Rosher
Choreography: Robert Alton
Assistant Choreographer (uncredited): Alex Romero
Editor: James E. Newcom
Production Manager (uncredited): Edward Woehler
Assistant Director (uncredited): Al Jennings
Assistant Director (uncredited): George Rhein
Stunt Doubles (uncredited): Sharon Lucas for Benay Venuta, Shirley Lucas for Betty Hutton
Gaffer (uncredited): M.D. Cline
Still Photographer (uncredited): Ed Hubbell
Grip (uncredited): Leo Monlon
Camera Operator (uncredited): John M. Nickolaus Jr.
Montage Editorial (uncredited): Peter Ballbusch
Orchestrators (uncredited): Alexander Courage, Maurice De Packh, Robert Franklyn, Paul Marquardt, Conrad Salinger
Composers Additional Music (uncredited): Adolph Deutsch, Roger Edens, Conrad Salinger
Vocal Supervisor (uncredited): Robert Tucker
Technicolor Color Consultants: James Gooch, Henri Jaffa Richard Rodgers
Script Supervisor (uncredited): Jack Aldworth
A sampling of Annie Get Your Gun bootleg LPs. Each image links to its page in the Judy Garland Online Discography
where there are more Annie soundtracks to be found!