Annie Get Your Gun (1950)
Director: George Sidney.
Starring: Betty Hutton (Annie Oakley), Howard Keel (Frank Butler), Louis Calhern (Buffalo Bill), J. Carrol Naish (Chief Sitting Bull), Edward Arnold (Pawnee Bill), Keenan Wynn (Charlie Davenport), Benay Venuta (Dolly Tate), Clinton Sundberg (Foster Wilson), James Harrison (Mac), Brad Mora Little (Jake), Susan Odin (Jessie), Diane Dick (Nellie), Chief Yowlachie (Little Horse), Eleanor Brown (Minnie), Evelyn Beresford (Queen Victoria), Andre Charlot (President Loubet of France), John Mylong (Kaiser Wilhelm II ), Nino Pipitone (King Victor Emmanuel of Italy) .
Academy Award: Best Score in a Musical: Adolph Deutsch, Roger Edens.
A pretty good musical comedy based on the life of sharpshooter Annie Oakley Mozie (1860-1926). The theme is girl from the Ozark mountains has hard time wooing a man who is more sophisticated.
Some of the better known songs are: "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly" and "There's No Business Like Show Business."
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
The Buffalo Bill Wild West Show arrives by train. The world's greatest sharpshooter Frank Butler is introduced to the crowd. They give him a big cheer. The band starts playing while marching. They are followed by the Indians, a stage coach, cowgirls and, finally, Buffalo Bill on his white horse.
The company moves over to their hotel. The proprietor is Foster Wilson and he doesn't like showman Charles Davenport, personal manager for Buffalo Bill Cody, tacking up notices about the Wild West Show. Davenport says they are going to hold their shooting competition here and that will brings droves of people over to the hotel. The man doesn't care. He wants Cody and crew out of his hotel. Frank Butler arrives in a buggy with three lovely ladies. He goes up to try to convince Foster Wilson to let them stay. But Wilson won't compromise. Davenport now tells the whole crew that they have to pack up and move to town. The crew doesn't like this inconvenience.
A woman with the Wild West Show, named Dolly, personal assistant to Frank Butler, is wearing a fancy hat with a fake bird on it. She gets in the hammock and swings back and forth on it. All of a sudden a shot hits the bird and knocks it off the woman's hat. Dolly starts screaming she's been shot. A local girl named Annie, a real rube, comes over and picks up the bird she shot. Dolly tells her that she almost killed her and that bird she has is just a hat decoration. Annie gives her the bird, but warns Dolly that if she is going to continue to wear a bird on her hat, people are just going to keep shooting it off the hat. Dolly gets a little too critical of Annie and Annie chases her off by running toward her with her rifle pointed at Dolly.
The proprietor speaks with Annie, who wants to tell the hotel owner that she has different game birds for him to buy. Wilson says he has all the game he wants. Annie comes back by telling him his game is dangerous to his customers because they always have buck shot in them from the shotguns and people can break their teeth. Annie brings out her one brother and three sisters who were hiding in the bushes. She says they are shy because they hardly meet any people. They ain't ever been out of Dark County, Ohio. Annie now shows Wilson one of her killed birds and lets him see that there is only one small hole in the bird's head. So Wilson says he will take two dozen quail. Annie doesn't know how many is that. Wilson says it's 24. None of the siblings can count higher than 20, so she tells Wilson she can only give him 20 quails. The proprietor is amazed at how little the young people know. Except for the boy, they can't even read or write. Annie and her siblings now sing a song about doing a-what comes naturally.
Annie says she can hit anything she wants to with her rifle. This gives Wilson an idea. He offers her $5 dollars to participate in a shooting content against this Frank Butler of the Wild West Show. Annie says whatever he can hit, she can hit standing on her head. She wants to shoot in the contest. Wilson goes in to make arrangements with Davenport and Annie sits down on the porch to clean her rifle. Frank Butler comes out of the hotel and he asks what the heck is that thing she is cleaning? She asks him: "Ain't you got eyes?" She looks up at Butler but finds that he is so handsome that she is thunder struck. She says as if in a trance: "Yeah, you got eyes." Butler says that rifle could explode on her and hurt her. He starts walking away, but Annie hurries after him and asks him if she can keep her rifle a little longer because she needs it so she can beat some "big swollen-headed stiff out of the Wild West Show." Frank doesn't tell her his real name -- just that this Butler fellow is a champion. Annie doesn't understand the word "champion" so Butler says it means he's the best shot. Annie indignantly says: "He was!"
Butler tries to leave Annie, but she asks him what kind of girl does he like? Frank says he likes his women to look like they came out of a picture magazine -- ". . . sort of dainty and dimpled and rosy." This is bad news to Annie. Frank sings a song about the girl he will marry. This makes Annie sad and she has tears in her eyes. When Frank leaves, Annie sings a song about how you can't get a man with a gun.
The audience starts coming to the Wild West Show. Davenport introduces Buffalo Bill Cody to the crowd. Buffalo Bill comes up and introduces Frank Butler and Frank shoots all the balloons held up by the women of the crew. Frank's assistant will be Miss Dolly Tate. Davenport now asks for the local challenger. Annie and Wilson come up on stage. Buffalo Bill asks where the man is and Davenport asks what's his name? Wilson points to the girl in front of him and says: "Annie". The crowd bursts out in laughter. This makes Annie mad and she points her rifle at the crowd asking the crowd: "What's so funny?"
Davenport asks Wilson and Annie if they are trying to make fools of them? He then asks Buffalo Bill what should they do? Buffalo Bill says if the lady wants to shoot, she deserves a chance to shoot. Now Frank Butler comes out on stage. Annie is dumbstruck again. Frank tells her he told her he would see her at the shooting competition. Yes, says Annie, but he didn't mention that it was he who was the big swollen-headed stiff. The crowd laughs again.
The contestants will shoot clay pigeons out of the sky. The two contestants both shoot their first clay pigeon. Annie shoots her second one. Frank uses a mirror and shoots a clay pigeon with his back turned to it. Annie easily does the same trick. Frank does more of his tricks, but Annie always does a little harder variation of the trick. Butler is really getting frustrated. What's worse, the crowd is rooting for the girl. Frank hits four clay pigeons out of the sky, so Annie shoots five out of the sky. Now Frank tries to shoot five clay pigeons, but only gets four of them. Frank steps back and Buffalo Bill declares Annie the winner. Frank congratulates Annie. She asks him if he's mad at her? He says no, she's just a good shot. Besides, anyone can miss a shot. Annie pipes up: "I can't!" At this Frank turns and leaves.
Wilson now gives Annie the $5 dollars she won. He pulls her down the steps of the stage and asks her what she is going to do now? She says she's going back to Dark County. She takes another long look at Butler and says: "He sure is pretty." Wilson now leaves and Annie sends her brother and sisters to go check on the supplies. Buffalo Bill and Davenport says that this Annie Oakley could be a real novelty act for the Wild West Show that could draw in big crowds to the show. They could make her Frank's assistant. Frank says Annie is not going to be happy just handing things to him. Annie comes out from her secluded place and tells Frank that she would do anything for him, just as long as she can be near him. Frank asks if she knows anything about show business? Annie doesn't understand, so Davenport sings there's no business, like show business. He is joined in his singing by Buffalo Bill and Frank Butler.
Annie and her siblings now travel on the train. They are all awe-struck. They go to Indianapolis, Terre Haute, Decatur, Springfield, Peoria, Davenport and Rockford. Her siblings unhitch the caboose and it flies back downhill. Annie invites the Indians to use her railway car, because they had a little fire in their car. This gets her in trouble with Davenport, because the Indians are too tough on the furnishings in the car.
Annie's brother is teaching her how to read. Frank comes along and tells Annie that someday he might make her his partner. He asks her if she has ever been in love and she says no. She sings that they say that falling in love is wonderful. Frank agrees with her and sings along. The two are hugging each other at the end of the song.
The Wild West Show is getting a lot of competition from rival Pawnee Bill's Far East Show. Buffalo Bill says all they need is one great attraction and he thinks Annie is going to provide the answer. They want her to shoot an egg off a poodle's head. Annie doesn't want to do it because it would make Frank mad. Davenport has to lie to her to get her cooperation by telling Annie that Frank is going to love the trick. It will be a great surprise for him. And then she will be on her way to marrying Frank.
Pawnee Bill comes over to speak to Buffalo Bill. With him is his latest sensation: Sioux warrior and chief, Sitting Bull, who defeated Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn. Buffalo Bill tells Pawnee Bill that their latest attraction is Miss Annie Oakley. Pawnee Bill is anxious to see her perform so Buffalo Bill gives two tickets to Pawnee Bill (one of them for Sitting Bull). Davenport speaks with Sitting Bull and finds out that he isn't employed by Pawnee Bill. He is on his way home after speaking with the Great White Father in Washington, D.C.
Frank comes riding along and sees the huge advertising sign for Annie Oakley that says she's the greatest shot in the world. Frank is furious about them giving top billing to Annie. He goes to have a talk with Buffalo Bill. Annie comes along is blown away by the sign. She can't wait for Frank to see it and asks Davenport to go get Frank for her. She is so happy and sings a brief version of there's no business like show business. When Frank comes he is not in a good mood, but Annie changes that by asking innocently: "You ain't sore are you?" Frank relaxes and says no, he isn't sore. Annie tells Frank that he is going to feel so proud that ". . . you're gonna ask me to do something and be somebody and I'm gonna do it and be it." Frank responds that he could do that right now. No, says Oakley, she wants it to be exactly the way she pictured it with Frank on his knees and asking her real slow like. She goes to her tent and Frank sings that she has weakened his defenses and changed him from a lion to a lamb.
The show starts. The Indians are chasing a Conestoga wagon and the cowboys come to the rescue. Buffalo Bill then introduces Annie. She stands up on her horse and shoots her targets from that position. The girl is even a trick horse rider, jumping from one side of the saddle up and over the saddle and horse and then jumping back while the horse rushes along. The audience is absolutely thrilled with her. Frank is back to feeling angry saying: "In two weeks, I wind up being her assistant." Annie rushes over and hugs Frank. She asks Buffalo Bill and Davenport to leave because they want to be alone, but just then Sitting Bull comes in rushing for Annie. She is a bit frightened of this overenthusiastic man and runs around to jump behind Buffalo Bill and Davenport for protection. Buffalo Bill tells her that Sitting Bull is not saying anything bad to her. He is only saying in his language Watanya Cicilia, which means "Little Sure Shot".
Now Annie can relax a bit. She shakes the hand of Sitting Bull. Then she introduces him to Frank and says he's the star of the show, but Sitting Bull disagrees saying that Annie is the best shot. In fact, he is so pleased with Annie that he says he wants to make her his daughter. Buffalo Bill tells Annie that this is a great honor and Sitting Bull says the ceremony will be now. He leaves the tent. Annie looks around for Frank, but he has gone. She asks Buffalo Bill and Davenport where did he go and Davenport says he just went to change his outfit.
In the ceremony Annie is very wary of what's going to happen to her. She is surrounded by dancing Indians. Then she is brought forward to kneel before Sitting Bull. He paints her face while she repeats in his language what he tells her to say. She is then given a huge bear necklace, the weight of which forces her to the ground. She then dances with the Indians but they keep stomping on her feet, so she tries to hide from them. They find her, but she hides for a second time. Annie comes out from under a covering to ask Sitting Bull: "Am I an Indian yet?" Not quite yet. Sitting Bull puts a feather in her hair and says now she's an Indian. Annie sings that now she's an Indian too.
After the ceremony Annie gets a letter. It's from Frank. Sitting Bull reads it to her: "Dear Annie: I'm leaving tonight to join Pawnee Bill's show. I'm going to do my old act with Dolly. You put over greatest trick I ever saw. You are a smart girl, Annie, too smart for me. Good luck to you and goodbye. Frank." Annie cries over the letter saying that she was going to marry Frank tonight. She cries that now she wishes she had never even seen a gun.
The Wild West Show is going abroad to Europe. Annie will be meeting kings and queens. At the ship, little brother Jake hides from Annie because he's upset that she's leaving. She searches for him and finds him. Now all the kids says goodbye to her. Annie doesn't want to get on the ship because she is still looking for Frank. In Europe they go from one capital to another entertaining people. Annie especially likes meeting Queen Victoria of Great Britain. Wherever she goes she is given various medals.
Davenport tells Buffalo Bill that these royal performances are not paid for by the royalty. So now they can't even pay their payroll this week. Buffalo Bill suggests that they head for home, but Davenport says that all this publicity has paved the way for them to make some real money. But Buffalo Bill is worried about Annie. The woman looks so sad without Frank. Davenport, however, doesn't want Annie to have anything to do with Frank. He's no good for her, he says. Buffalo Bill says the important thing is that Annie loves Frank. When Buffalo Bill mentions that they might be going home to Annie, she is absolutely thrilled. She says: "I love Europe, but I've been dying to go home."
On the ship Davenport says that they may have to close the show because they have very little money. Annie says that they just can't break up the show!
The ship comes into New York Harbor and Annie sees the Statue of Liberty. Then a tug comes alongside the ship and on the tug Buffalo Bill and Davenport see Frank Butler. They mention it to Annie, but at first she says she can't stand the man and she hates him. But then she starts talking about how the conversation is going to go between them. After a few recriminations, they'll start talking and he'll say he didn't get much sleep while she was gone. Then she will say that she didn't get much sleep either. Then the talk will become warmer and warmer and Frank will say he's sorry and "I love you".
Sitting Bull suggests that the Wild West Show merge with Pawnee Bill's show , which will make the show good and rich. Buffalo Bill likes the idea.
Frank Butler comes aboard and Annie immediately rushes over to him and gives him a kiss. Then she realizes that this is not Frank Butler and she gets mad at him for pretending to be Frank. Buffalo Bill and Davenport say that the man did nothing wrong. The man says he only brought a letter to Buffalo Bill from Pawnee Bill, who invites Buffalo Bill and his close staff to a home coming party at the Hotel Brevoort. Annie figures that she will see Frank then. The man says that Frank is a real hit with the ladies of New York City and he will be bringing a lot of pretty debutantes with him to the party. When Annie finds out what that means she gets worried that Frank is going to fall for one of those lace and pink girls. She starts crying again.
At the hotel Frank Butler is dancing with an old, heavy woman and trying to look as happy as can be. He excuses himself to go over and talk to Pawnee Bill. Frank is mad that Pawnee Bill is sticking him with all these rich, older women when he's so worried that Annie won't even talk to him. Pawnee Bill tells Frank that the are in debt. The party is being held for Buffalo Bill because he wants to suggest forming a partnership with Cody.
Colonel William F. Cody in introduced to the party goers. Then comes Mr. Charles Davenport and the crew. Now the whole crew comes in, including the Indians. Pawnee Bill, Buffalo Bill and Davenport go into another room to talk in private. Cody says that they cut their travels in Europe short in order to get Annie back together with Frank. Pawnee Bill says he wants to help reunite the two love birds. So he suggests that the two shows merge and that way Frank and Annie will have to speak to each other. Buffalo Bill turns to Davenport and says: "Now, why didn't I think of that?" Now if they could only get $100,000 dollars they could pay off their debts. Pawnee Bill says he was just going to say the same thing to Buffalo Bill. Davenport now gets mad at Pawnee Bill, calling him a dirty crook.
Miss Annie Oakley and Chief Sitting Bull are now announced to the crowd. Annie is wearing a bright red dress, but with all those medals she was awarded hanging on the front of the dress. Just then Pawnee Bill comes into the main ballroom and tells the waiter to throw the guests out because the merger's off. Annie wants to know why? Davenport tells her: "They haven't got as much money as we haven't got." In desperation, Annie turns to Papa Bull, as she calls him, and asks him to do something. Sitting Bull asks for quiet. He says the shows will merge because he knows a paleface with lots of diamonds. The crowd wants to know the name of this paleface. He tells them that the paleface is none other than the bejeweled Annie. They can sell her medals. At first, Annie says she can't sell her diamonds, but Papa Bull tells her if there's no money, there's no merger, so people can't merge. Annie gets the point and says let her show the medals to Frank and then they can have them. And now happiness reigns in the ballroom and Pawnee Bill and Buffalo Bill are partners.
Davenport tells Annie that now she has lost everything. She sings that she doesn't care, because: "I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night".
Now Papa Bull puts a fancy fur over her front and takes Annie out of the main ball room to a porch. Annie doesn't know what he's doing. He points to the right and Annie sees Frank waiting for her. They run to each other, hug and kiss.
Frank has three medals of his own he wants to pin on Anne, but when Annie takes off the fur there is no where to place them because of all the bejeweled metals. Now Frank says she doesn't want his medals because they are just ribbons and not diamonds. Annie says she wants him to pin the medals on her. Frank says his medals only have writing on them: "To Frank Butler, the Champion Sharpshooter of the World." Annie asks sarcastically: "Of what world? The Old World or the New World?" Now they start yelling at each other. Annie rushes over and tells Davenport to set up a shooting match between her and Frank Butler. Davenport tells her that this is no way to start working together. Annie says she's never working with Frank. Frank tells her it will be a pleasure to teach her some marksmanship. Annie starts singing: "Anything you can do, I can do better, I can do anything better than you." Frank sings: "No, you can't." Annie answers with: "Yes, I can."
So the shooting contest starts in the morning. Annie bets Frank all her medals against his three ribbons that she will beat him. Sitting Bull bends the front sights of Annie's rifles thinking that Annie will lose the match, but wins Frank. Annie shoots first but keeps missing. She keeps changing rifles, but still misses. Finally, Frank gives her his rifle and refers to her as honey. Annie likes that he called her honey. For confirmation, she asks if he called her honey? Yes.
Now Annie shoots and starts hitting the clay pigeons. Frank shoots and hits five or so in a row. Annie gives him back his rifle and goes to get another rifle. She wants the one on the end (that hasn't been tampered with). Papa Bull tells her she do better with this gun. He tells her: "Keep missing, you win. Be second best Annie. You tell me, can't get a man with gun. Remember? You get man with this gun." Annie sees that the sight has been bent on the gun and says why didn't she think of that herself? She uses the rifle and misses the clay pigeons. She says she concedes to the greatest sharpshooter in the world, Mr. Frank Butler. She is just second-best.
Now Frank acts gracious. He gives the medal back to Annie. She say no, but he says they are going to be partners. And now Annie soars in spirit and hugs Frank.
In the ending, Annie sings "there's no business like show business" and Frank joins in the singing. They hold hands in the center ring while concentric circles of cowboys and Indians swirl around them.
A charming and entertaining musical comedy that is a cute love story. It has the same weaknesses in history that the Annie Oakley (1935) film has. The film is just loosely based on fact. In the film I was frankly shocked at how bad they made Betty Hutton look playing the part. Her face is heavily freckled and she is wearing an ugly buckskin outfit with an ugly hat on her head. And her grammar is atrocious and she is really almost shouting when she talks. Thank goodness they soon let her apply some make-up and wear nice clothes. Beginning with this bad physical impression, Annie turns into a lovely young lady (but still with terrible spoken English). Now Frank starts falling in love with the innocent woman from the sticks of Ohio. J. Carrol Naish does a good job playing Sitting Bull and the character provides a lot of comic relief for the show. Hutton was good as Annie, but just a bit too loud at the start. Louis Calhern as Buffalo Bill and Keenan Wynn as Charlie Davenport are also very good.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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