Monday, June 6, 2016

For Me and My Gal

Busby Berkeley is synonymous with the big, flashy musical. He was the choreographer of such musicals as 42nd Street, Gold Diggers of 1933 and Footlight Parade. (All released in the same year too!) Of course choreography wasn't his lone claim to fame.

He also dabbled in directing several times. One such effort was (unsurprisingly) a musical. Though For Me and My Gal isn't what one would expect from Berkeley. It doesn't have the lavish musical numbers usually associated with him but when it's a film starring Judy Garland and Gene Kelly (in his film debut), you know you're in for something good.

Released the same year as Yankee Doodle Dandy, For Me and My Gal has a patriotic element to it. With it hitting theaters not long after the United States joined World War II, it was perhaps a deliberate move on MGM's part to boost morale among moviegoers. Still, this detail doesn't date the film too greatly.

Like many musicals of the era, For Me and My Gal was an escape for those on the home front. In a time where families worried about their loved ones serving overseas, they needed something to get their minds off what's happening in the world. What better remedy is there than a musical?

Though not among the best of Garland or Kelly's careers, For Me and My Gal is still an entertaining entry for them. It showed Hollywood and moviegoers what to expect from this charismatic showman fresh off of Broadway, a potential rival for Fred Astaire. And he would hit his stride in the following decade.

My Rating: ****

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