Tuesday, January 3, 2012
For Me and My Gal (1942).
For Me and My Gal (1942). Musical directed by Busby Berkeley. Cast: Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, in his screen debut, George Murphy, Martha Eggerth and Ben Blue. The film was based on a story by Howard Emmett Rogers inspired by a true story about vaudeville actors Harry Palmer and Jo Hayden, when Palmer was drafted into World War I.
The story begins at the beginning of World War I, when Jo Hayden and Harry Palmer, perform the musical number "For Me and My Gal," both Jo and Harry think that they would be a great team, but Jo does not want to hurt her dance partner Jimmy's feelings. When they return to the hotel, Jimmy insists that Jo, team up with Harry. It does not take Harry and Jo, long to take their show on the road.
While traveling by train to Chicago, Jo reads that Harry and his partner, comic Sid Simms, are now playing on the prestigious Orpheum circuit. Harry, is jealous that he and Jo have not been as successful and when he accidentally enters the private car of vaudeville headliner Eve Minard, he is star struck.
While in Chicago, Harry starts to neglect Jo and when she is visited by Jimmy he feels sorry for her. That night, Jo goes to Eve's hotel and tells her that she loves Harry. Eve, tells Jo that Harry is an opportunist and to prove her point, asks Jo to hide when Harry arrives. Eve, asks Harry to join her act, he accepts.
Back at their hotel, Harry tries to break the news to Jo, not knowing that she over heard him and when she begins to cry, he realizes that he is in love with her and turns Eve down. They receive a telegram from their agent, Eddie Milton, saying that they are booked for the Palace in New York and Harry proposes that they get married.
After arriving in New York, they learn that the telegram was supposed to read "the Palace in Newark," they are heartbroken. Harry still wants to get married, but Jo wants to wait until they perform at the Palace. Bert Waring, manager of the Palace, sees their act in Newark and offers to book them. Unfortunately, Harry receives his draft notice and is sure that he will lose his big chance. When Harry is to report for his physical he decides to take matters in his own hands and slams a lid of a huge trunk down on his hand.
When Jo receives a telegram informing her that Danny has been killed in action, Harry tries to comfort her, but when she sees his hand, she realizes what he has done and says that she never wants to see him again.
Six weeks later, Harry learns that his hand is permanently crippled and he will never be allowed into the Army. While at a bond rally Harry runs into Sid, who suggests that Harry go with him to France as a YMCA entertainer.
When, he and his partner end up too close to the front, Harry goes off to warn the ambulance convoy heading into danger. He is wounded while destroying an enemy machine gun that was waiting for the convoy.
After the war, during performance at the Palace Theatre, Jo sees Harry in the audience and runs to him. The two reunite on stage to sing "For Me and My Gal".
This movie is a musical/drama/romance and there are a few twists that set it apart from many other wartime romance musicals.
For Me and My Gal marked the first real "adult" role for the nineteen-year-old Judy Garland. The original script had called for Harry Palmer to be involved with two women, a singer, which was to be Garland's role, and a dancer, who would have most of the dramatic scenes, but acting coach Stella Adler, who was an advisor to MGM at the time, suggested to producer Arthur Freed that the two roles be combined, and that Garland be given the part. Adler also suggested Gene Kelly for the lead.
Kelly was 30 years old at the time, and had made a mark on Broadway as the star of Pal Joey and the choreographer of Best Foot Forward. When David O. Selznick signed him to a film contract, Kelly's intention was to return to Broadway after fulfilling his contractual obligation, but he ended up staying in Hollywood for a year because Selznick didn't have a role for him. When Arthur Freed inquired about getting Kelly for For Me and My Gal, Selznick handed over the contract, and Kelly got the part, over the objections of Freed's bosses at MGM. The casting of Kelly meant that George Murphy, who was originally going to play "Harry Palmer", was switched to playing "Jimmy Metcalf".
Gene Kelly and Judy Garland got along well – she had been in favor of his getting the part, and during shooting she helped Kelly adjust his stage acting for films, and backed him in disagreements with director Busby Berkeley, who she did not like. Kelly and Garland went on to star together in two other films, The Pirate (1948) and Summer Stock (1950).
The film was also the American motion picture debut of Hungarian singer Martha Eggerth, who had appeared in over thirty films in Germany. Her career in Hollywood did not last long: she appeared in only two other American films.
When the film was initially previewed, the audience was dissatisfied with the ending: they thought that Jo (Garland) should end up with Jimmy (Murphy) rather than Harry (Kelly). This prompted Louis B. Mayer to order three weeks of additional shooting to give Kelly's character more of a conscience and to reduce Murphy's presence in the film.
Jan, toured the United States and landed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in Hollywood and during the early 1940s, made two movies with Judy Garland, For Me and My Gal (1942) and Presenting Lily Mars (1943).