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ANNIE GET YOUR GUN – Adolph Deutsch, Roger Edens, Irving Berlin

November 28, 2022 Leave a comment Go to comments


Original Review by Craig Lysy

The Broadway musical “Annie Get Your Gun”, which was based on the legendary Annie Oakley, stared Ethel Merman and had a very successful theatrical run of 1,147 performances. MGM studios took notice and decided that they would continue their parade of musicals with a new one based on Annie Oakley for their marquee star Judy Garland. They purchased the film rights, assigned production to Arthur Freed and Roger Edens with a $3.73 million budget. Sidney Sheldon was hired to write the screenplay adaptation of the novel “Annie Get Your Gun” (1946) by Herbert Fields. Filming conflicts with Garland led to the director being replaced twice, with Busby Berkeley and Charles Walters exiting and George Sidney finally taking up the reins. For the cast Judy Garland would star as Annie Oakley, however clashes with Berkeley exacerbated her health and insecurity problems and she was ultimately fired. Betty Hutton was hired as her replacement and joined by; Howard Keel and Frank Butler, Louis Calhern as Colonel William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, Keenan Wynn as Charlie Davenport, Benay Venuta as Dolly Tate, and J. Carrol Naish as Chief Sitting Bull.

The film is set in Ohio in the late 19th century and explores the life of Annie Oakley and her romance with Frank Butler. Annie is an illiterate hillbilly and wins a sharp shooter match against Buffalo Bill Cody’s ace shooter Frank. Buffalo Bill is impressed and offers her a job with his Wild West Show and she accepts. Over time she falls in love with Frank, but her superior marksmanship eclipses him and when she supplants him as the top billed marksman his male ego cannot take it and he leaves to join the rival “Pawnee Bill’s” traveling show. Eventually Annie realizes that she can be the best and live alone, or second best and have the man of her dreams, so she throws a shooting contest, which allows her and Frank to reconcile and get married. The film was a smashing commercial success earning a profit of $1.061 million. Critics praised the film and Hutton’s outstanding performance. The film earned four Academy Award nomination, including Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing and Best Music, Scoring a Musical Picture.

Adolph Deutsch was hired to write the score and provide musical direction with some additional music provided by Roger Edens. The song music and lyrics would be composed by Irving Berlin, with eleven musical numbers making it into the final film. Deutsch and Edens understood that Berlin’s songs drove the film’s narrative, and that their job was to unify the film’s musical narrative by drawing upon the song melodies for their score. The song “There’s No Business Like Show Business” served as a leitmotif for the animating spirit of show’s performers and is pervasive throughout the film. The Song “Colonel Buffalo Bill” offers the scores most rousing leitmotif and is utilized to energize and propel the wonder, fun and excitement of the show. The tender and romantic song “The Say It’s Wonderful” serves as a yearning Love Theme for Frank and Annie. Lastly, the musical was both a romance and a comedy, and Deutsch often resorted to using “Mickey Mousing” effects to accent the silly comedy unfolding on the screen. Although often derided as a musical technique, in my judgment I believe their use here worked and were synergistic, ultimately contributing to making the scene funnier.

Cues coded (*) contain music not found on the album, which includes most of Deutsch’s orchestral score. “Main Title” offers a score highlight where Deutsch in a masterstroke captures the exuberant excitement, and romance of the film’s narrative. We open with jubilant fanfare as the MGM lion roars, which ushers in the flow of the opening credits against the sight of the “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show” train churning across the countryside. Deutsch supported with a rousing orchestral rendering of “There’s No Business Like Show Business” melody. At 0:46 we flow into the melody of “Together Again”, a romance for strings borne by sumptuous strings romantico. We flow energetically into the film proper with Charlie exiting the train, and wading into the welcoming crowd at the train station. He begins singing the exuberant and rousing “Colonel Buffalo Bill” song, joined by Dolly, Frank and the company choir. This song offers a score highlight, which opens the film with enthusiasm and fun as the cowboys and cowgirls ride and a marching band supports.

The company arrives at the Wilson House Hotel to host their show, but the hotel owner Foster Wilson will have none of it and orders them off the property. In “Annie Meets Foster” (*) Annie, shoots a fake bird off of Dolly’s hat, scares her off at gunpoint, and then introduces herself and her four siblings to the Mr. Wilson. Deutsch supports with a comedic and playful musical narrative using of the “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly” melody. When he orders twenty-four birds and asks for a voucher, he realizes that they are all illiterate. Annie responds by launching into the playful, comedic and bouncy song “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly” sung with a hillbilly drawl. This happy-go-lucky song was great fun, entertaining, and continued the film’s wonderful musical narrative.

When Foster realizes how good a shot Annie is, he hires her to challenge the shooters in Wild Bill’s show. In “You’ve Got Eyes” (*) she meets Frank, who is leaving the hotel supported by swooning strings as she is clearly smitten by him. Deutsch supports her infatuation with sliding strings and a dream-like romanticism. When she asks what type of girl he likes, he launches into the romantic ballad “The Girl That I Marry” with a powerful and resonating masculine baritone vocal, which melts her heart. After he leaves, Annie is dejected, and Deutsch supports with interplay of romantic quotes of the ballad and her silly song “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly”. She grabs her rifle, sits on a bench, and sings “You Can’t Get A Man With A Gun”. The song is playful, comedic and plugs on with a bouncy melody. It speaks of romantic longing, coupled with frustration, with the repeating phrase “Oh you can’t get a man with a gun” expressing her frustration.

“The Show” (*) opens with grand trumpeting fanfare, which supports the banner “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West”. The show has a large crowd and on-stage Charlie introduces Buffalo Bill. Fanfare by trumpets reale support him coming on stage to announce him pitting his sharpshooter against Ohio’s best. Frank comes on stage and dazzles the crowd by shooting several balloons, a feat crowned with celebratory fanfare. When his assistant Dolly is introduced, fanfare again resounds. For the contest, Wild Bill silences critics that Annie, a girl, can indeed compete against Frank. When Frank joins her a comedic stinger, followed by silly sliding strings support her again being smitten with him. Trumpets reale support a decorative table cloth displaying a gold embroidered “Frank Butler”. When Annie counters, it is with a burlap sack that displays “Gleason’s Fertilizer”, that is supported by sardonic fanfare. They begin the contest, trapshooting clay pigeons. “Annie Wins!” (*) reveals repeated shootings with increasing levels of difficulty with Annie winning when Frank fails to duplicate her feat of shooting a volley of five. A paean of celebration erupts as her win is lauded by the cheering crowd. Wild Bill convinces Frank that they need to hire Annie, and she joins saying she would love to join, to be near to Frank, who finally shows a nascent romantic interest.

When Charlie asks Annie if she knows about show business, and she say no, he launches into the iconic score highlight “There’s No Business Like Show Business”, a song which ranks as one of the finest and most memorable in cinematic history. The song is ebullient with a melody people just never forget. Afterwards in “Let’s Get The Show on The Road” (*) Deutsch offers an energetic and ebullient and extended orchestral rendering of the “There’s No Business Like Show Business” song melody to empower the train churning across the countryside as a series of towns display on the screen; Indianapolis, Terra Haute, Decatur, Springfield, Peoria, Davenport, and Rockford. A montage of scenes shows Annie beautifying herself, and competing in shooting contests in which she always bests Frank. We close with Annie and her siblings unhinging the caboose railroad car, which drifts away with a descent motif. “Indian Life” (*) reveals the indigenous Indian members of the troupe enjoying their life together in Dolly’s train car supported by stereotypical Hollywood ‘Indian’ music. “Super!” (*) reveals the Chinese cook running past Charlie and Annie while ringing a metal triangle and calling – “First Call for Super!” as all the Indians run behind him. Deutsch supports with slapstick music propelled by trilling woodwinds and racing strings of flight.

Frank and Annie share an intimate moment at an outside train car junction platform as the sun sets behind theme. Deutsch supports the romantic mood with an orchestral rendering of the following song melody. Frank inquires if she has ever had someone love her, and she says no and begins singing the romantic ballad “They Say It’s Wonderful” which elicits him to wrap his arm around her. Frank is clearly amorous and responds by singing the second stanza as she places her head on his chest and then accepting his loving embrace. It is late, the full moon shines behind them, and Franks says good night and departs. The following cue was intended for Annie to sing a short reprise of the song “They Say It’s Wonderful”, but the scene was evidently edited out.

“Where Are The Customers?” (*) reveals Wild Bill fretting to Charlie that there are no customers. Deutsch supports with a soft, less energetic background orchestral rendering of the “Colonel Buffalo Bill” song melody. He finds a “Pawnee Bill’s Far East Show” poster, which informs him where the crowd is. They walk into Annie’s tent and ask her to debut her new act, which will save the show and elicit Frank to marry her. Outside the song melody reprises as lo and behold Pawnee Bill arrives to be warmly greeted by Wild Bill. He invites him and Sitting Bull to watch Annie’s act from his private booth. A large poster with her image displays “Annie Oakley – The Greatest rifle shot in the World”, which elicits a jealous Frank to seek out Wild Bill. When Annie arrives to see it, she hugs Charlie as Deutsch supports with a happy musical narrative. After Charlie departs, she tenderly touches the poster and offers a reprise of the “There’s No Business Like Show Business” song, which begins slow and reverently, but then swells into a rousing performance. Frank returns, is sore, but Annie’s affection tames his anger and expresses her hope that he will propose to her, but she tells him not now, as she has a different time and place in mind. She departs and Frank launches into a score highlight, “My Defenses Are Down”, a romantic ballad that speaks of a man, whose heart has been captured by the woman he loves. His powerful, heartfelt baritone vocal joins with men’s chorus for one of the film’s finest set pieces, which ends in a flourish.

“Showtime” (*) reveals people entering the tent stadium supported by a seated marching band energetically playing the “Colonel Buffalo Bill” song melody. We launch into a mock battle between cowboys and Indians with interplay of the war-like Indian drum empowered motif with the “Colonel Buffalo Bill” song melody. After they depart, Wild Bill rides in and announces a new and daring feat of marksmanship never before seen in all the world! Annie come out standing, strapped atop a running horse, and begins shooting balloon after balloon that are mounted on poles around the stadium, her epic ride empowered by a rousing “There’s No Business Like Show Business” melody. She savors the joy of the moment, as a sulking and jealous Frank departs. Later Charlie and Wild Bill admonish Frank for his conceit, and he punches Charlie. A joyous Annie enters, hugs Frank and asks for time alone. But Sitting Bull enters, and declares he will fund the show if they allow him to adopt her as his daughter. Wild Bill agrees and two Indian men move toward her and carry her away supported by nativist drums. “Annie Becomes an Indian” (*) offers a stunning score highlight. Outside the drums pound, joined by Indian chanting as Annie, who is dressed in Indian garb, is brought in by liter. Sitting Bull quells the drums and chanting and performs an adoption ceremonial, placing war paint, and then bestowing a bear teeth necklace. He then orders her to perform a ritualistic dance joining a large troupe of dancing Indians, which Deutsch empowers with a grand drum and horn empowered danza esotica. After they finish Sitting Bull gifts her an eagle feather, placing it in her head band, and we launch into “I’m An Indian, Too”, a drum propelled, rhythmic Indian nativist song, which she performs with outrageous comedic flare. Afterwards in “Frank Leaves Annie” (*) she receives a letter from Frank, which Sitting Bull reads, that informs her that he is leaving to join Pawnee Bill’s show as he cannot play second fiddle to her. She is devastated and weeps, which Deutsch supports with a grieving rendering of the “They Say It’s Wonderful”, now full of heartache.

“European Montage” reveals a headline, which reads “Buffalo Bill’s Show to Play Europe”. We open with the marching band playing the festive “Colonel Buffalo Bill” song melody as the show’s performers board the trans-Atlantic liner. After a grand prelude, we commence a montage of cities scenes where they perform, beginning with Paris. After each performance the King personally thanks Wild Bill, Sitting Bull and bestows a jewel encrusted badge to Annie. For Paris, a rousing “There’s No Business Like Show Business” melody supports with interplay of a spirited “Colonel Buffalo Bill” melody, and a French Can-Can tune. At 0:48 the Neapolitan song Funiculi, Funicula” joins “There’s No Business Like Show Business” as Roma displays. At 1:04 Berlin displays, empowered by Germanic fanfare. At 1:04 “Rule Britannia” joins to support the display of London. The war-like Indian Motif empowers a spectacle battle act of Indians vs cowboys for Queen Victoria, with Annie showcased as the sharp-shooting heroine, the scene ending with a grand musical flourish! A reprise of a solemn “Rule Britannia” (not on the album) supports Queen Victoria’s gift and congratulation to Annie. Later, Wild Bill informs Charlie that he wants to end the tour and go home as they are losing money, and Annie is sad as she misses Frank whom she loves. She shows up supported by an orchestral rendering of the “The Girl That I Marry” song, led by strings doloroso. On the album Annie singing the song is presented.

“New York City” (*) reveals them passing the Statue of Liberty supported by a grand Americana statement as they see Frank arriving by tugboat, which elicits a swelling of Annie’s pent up anger and hurt. But it turns out to be a courier dressed like him. The letter from Pawnee Bill invites Wild Bill and associates to join him for champagne at a prestigious hotel. Sitting Bulls sees an opportunity to merge the two shows to get them out of their financial problems. In “Sitting Bull and Annie” (*) he asks when she fell in love with Frank, and she answers at first sight, the moment crowned when he sang her a song. She then lowers her voice and sings a parody of “The Girl That I Marry”. Yet as she sings, she slowly becomes emotional, and begins to cry, informing us of how much she loves and misses him. “Hotel Reception” (*) opens with “The Girl That I Marry” melody rendered as a valzer elegante as we see resplendently dressed couples dancing in the ornate ballroom. Pawnee Bill informs Frank that they are broke and am putting on this show to entice Wild Bill to agree to merge the two shows, which makes Frank happy, as he wants to reunite with Annie. Then the usher announces the arrival of Colonel William F. Cody, which is supported by a drum roll and grand trumpeting fanfare. As his troupe follows, “The Girl That I Marry” melody is rendered as a spirited processional. As the two Bill’s talk over champagne, “There’s No Business Like Show Business” plays unobtrusively in the background. They agree to merge their shows and toast to the future.

“Annie Arrives” (*) reveals her arrival with Sitting Bull supported by trumpeting fanfare and a spirited orchestral rendering of “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly”. As she takes off her shawl, we see the bodice of her dress bejeweled with all the awards she was gifted by the monarchs of Europe. Deutsch supports with shimmering glockenspiel sparkling as all the other ladies gaze in amazement. The moment is shattered when Pawnee Bill orders Wild Bill and his troupe thrown out after discovering they are in as much debt as he is. Sitting Bull finds a solution – Annie will finance the merger by selling all her diamond crusted jewel awards. She agrees, but only after Frank sees them. She then launches the sassy song “I’ve Got The Sun In The Morning”, which really encapsulates who she really is, a simple country girl.

“Together Again” reveals Sitting Bull pulling Annie to the terrace where she discovers Frank. A romance for strings carries here into his waiting arms and they embrace, which Deutsch supports with a romantic orchestral rendering of the “They Say It’s Wonderful”. They both confess their love and how much they missed each other and they kiss. Yet when he gifts her his medals, which say “The Greatest Sharpshooter in the World”, she reveals hers, and he becomes jealous of her success. They begin to argue that each is the best sharpshooter in the world. She goes to Sitting Bull, declares the merger is off, and demands a shooting range so she can put Frank in his place. Frank then insults her and she launches into another iconic song, one of the most memorable in cinematic history, the cocky, one upmanship song “Anything You Can Do”; the ego driven competitive duet offers one of the musical’s most entertaining scenes.

“The Showdown” (*) reveals crowds gathered at Battery Park to witness the epic contest for the title of “Best Sharpshooter in the World” between Annie Oakley and Frank Butler. The Wild Bill marching band offers a rousing reprise of “Colonel Buffalo Bill” melody, which sets the perfect ambiance for the contest. Honorific chords support each contestant coming on stage and Wild Bill announces that the best score out of one hundred clay pigeons wins. When Frank taunts her, she impulsively bets all her medals against his. She misses the first three, is frazzled, but swoons when Frank calls her “Honey” and offers her his gun. She shoots the next two to score 2 out of 5, and he follows with 5 of 5. She gives him back his rifle, and goes to fetch another. Sitting Bull reminds her that “You Can’t Get a Man With a Gun”, and if she wants Frank, she must accept being second best. She accepts the misaligned rifle, misses the next two shots, and declares she concedes to Frank the title. She then gives him her medals, but Frank declines, saying they are now partners. She agrees to the billing Butler and Oakley and we conclude in “Finale” with her riding with cowboys and Indians. She joins Frank and chorus in singing one last joyous reprise of “There’s No Business Like Show Business” as they all precision parade on the field. At 0:51 we flow into “End Title” and close the film with a grand and rousing orchestral declaration of the song theme. Lastly, album cues 19-31 feature the pre-recorded songs sung by Judy Garland before she was sacked and replaced by Betty Hutton. In my judgment, Garland’s vocals at this stage in her career were peerless, and clearly superior in every way to those of Hutton’s. It is a shame circumstances did not allow Garland to perform in the film.

I commend George Feltenstein and Turner Entertainment Company for this wonderful restoration of one of Hollywood’s finest musicals, “Annie Get Your Gun”. There is a significant range of audio quality on the album as the technical team had to use multiple sources, including pre-recorded masters, acetate pre-recordings, and the composite film soundtrack itself. The digital mastering was on balance successful, and while 21st century audio qualitative standards were not achieved, the album does provide a good listening experience. This musical really resonated with audiences and I believe fully merited its Academy award win. There is a perfect confluence of showmanship, romance and comedy, all enhanced by Irving Berlin’s wonderful songs, and Adolph Deutsch’s excellent score. Deutsch masterfully brought continuity to the film’s musical narrative by rendering the emotion of its songs orchestrally as leitmotifs; one to empower and propel with enthusiasm the show, one to animate and celebrate show business performers, and lastly, one to speak to the yearning romance of Frank and Annie. Folks, they just do not make musicals like this anymore, and it is a shame, as it entertains, and afterwards leaves you with an enduring feel-good happiness. The songs are rousing, fun and heartfelt, with Deutsch’s masterful score providing unity and cohesion to the film’s musical narrative. I highly recommend this album as an essential Hollywood musical, one the finest and most entertaining in the genre.

For those of you unfamiliar with the score, I have embedded a YouTube link to the iconic song “There’s No Business Like Show Business”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_daq2pVZTE&list=PLDziL9qdUUOkG_hVqJOSjMISbFlol6NYw&index=3

Buy the Annie Get Your Gun soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Main Title (1:25)
  • Colonel Buffalo Bill (2:34)
  • Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly (2:41)
  • The Girl That I Marry (1:20)
  • You Can’t Get A Man With A Gun (3:38)
  • There’s No Business Like Show Business (2:30)
  • They Say It’s Wonderful (3:29)
  • They Say It’s Wonderful (Reprise) (1:09)
  • There’s No Business Like Show Business (Reprise) (1:05)
  • My Defenses Are Down (3:25)
  • I’m An Indian, Too (1:27)
  • European Montage (1:45)
  • Let’s Go West Again (Outtake) (3:08)
  • The Girl That I Marry (Reprise) (1:44)
  • I’ve Got The Sun In The Morning (2:17)
  • Together Again (2:30)
  • Anything You Can Do (3:10)
  • Finale / End Title (1:19)
  • Colonel Buffalo Bill (2:24) — recorded for aborted version to star Judy Garland
  • Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly (2:34) — recorded for aborted version to star Judy Garland
  • The Girl That I Marry (Unused) (1:21) — recorded for aborted version to star Judy Garland
  • You Can’t Get A Man With A Gun (4:25) — recorded for aborted version to star Judy Garland
  • There’s No Business Like Show Business (2:22) — recorded for aborted version to star Judy Garland
  • They Say It’s Wonderful (3:23) — recorded for aborted version to star Judy Garland
  • They Say It’s Wonderful (Reprise) (1:04) — recorded for aborted version to star Judy Garland
  • I’m An Indian, Too (1:34) — recorded for aborted version to star Judy Garland
  • Let’s Go West Again (Outtake) (3:28) — recorded for aborted version to star Judy Garland
  • The Girl That I Marry (Reprise) (2:09) — recorded for aborted version to star Judy Garland
  • I’ve Got The Sun In The Morning (2:11) — recorded for aborted version to star Judy Garland
  • Anything You Can Do (2:40) — recorded for aborted version to star Judy Garland
  • There’s No Business Like Show Business (Reprise) (1:02) — recorded for aborted version to star Judy Garland

Running Time: 71 minutes 13 minutes

Rhino Records R2-76669 (1950/2000)

Music composed and conducted by Adolph Deutsch. Original songs written by Irving Berlin. Additional music by Roger Edens. Orchestrations by Alexander Courage, Maurice De Packh, Robert Franklyn, Paul Marquardt, and Conrad Salinger . Recorded and mixed by XXXX. Score produced by Adolph Deutsch. Album produced by George Feltenstein.

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