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Ye-ha! ANNIE GET YOUR GUN ($25), the MGM movie musical, which has been unseen since 1973 makes its long awaited video debut on DVD and the presentation is a doozy (more on that later). Based upon the 1946 Broadway musical, which is currently enjoying a highly successful revival, ANNIE GET YOUR GUN tells the story of Annie Oakley (Betty Hutton), who staked her claim to fame as a sharpshooter with Buffalo Billís Wild West Show in the late 1800s. Howard Keel portrays rival sharpshooter Frank Butler, who Annie instantly falls for. Unfortunately, Annieís superior shooting abilities play havoc with Butlerís delicate ego; driving a wedge between the two, just as romance is about to bloom. ANNIE GET YOUR GUN features a terrific Irving Berlin score that contains such classic songs as Thereís No Business Like Show Business, They Say Itís Wonderful and Anything You Can Do. The first rate supporting cast of ANNIE GET YOUR GUN includes Louis Calhern, J. Carrol Naish, Edward Arnold, Keenan Wynn and Benay Venuta.

Director George Sidney did an amazing job with the energetic and lavish production, which incidentally, had a very troubled history. For those who didnít know, Judy Garland was the original star of ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, but her health and personal problems forced her out of the movie shortly after shooting commenced. Also, Louis Calhern was brought in to play the role of Buffalo Bill after Frank Morganís untimely death. Finally, original director Busby Berkeley was replaced with Sidney, when the studio deemed the footage he shot as unsatisfactory. I donít know how ANNIE GET YOUR GUN would have turned out had Judy Garland completed the film, but the two surviving musical numbers that are included on the DVD indicate that Betty Hutton brings an exuberance to the role that Garlandís performance lacked.

Warner Home Video truly delivers the goods with their DVD edition of ANNIE GET YOUR GUN. ANNIE GET YOUR GUN is presented in its proper full screen aspect ratio and the new digital transfer displays the same type of digital restorative magic that Warner employed for their DVD release of NORTH BY NORTHWEST. The image on the DVD is very clean, very sharp and very colorful. All traces of age have been virtually erased from this fifty-year-old film. If there are any print blemishes still present in the transfer, I didnít see them. There are occasional shots that display a bit of film grain, but it is hardly bothersome. Color reproduction is quite excellent and this presentation comes exceedingly close to recreating the look of an original IB Technicolor print. The hues on the DVD are incredibly vibrant, but they are also sharply defined without a trace of smearing or bleeding. Blacks are accurately rendered and the picture has very smooth and natural contrast. However, shadow detail is limited by the age of the production. Digital compression artifacts never betray their presence on this smartly authored dual layer DVD.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack provides excellent fidelity for a musical film that is half a century old. Hiss and distortion seems to have been expunged from the recordings, so feel free to amplify the delightful songs. Dialogue is always intelligible, but there are a couple of spots were the actorsí speaking voices seem a bit compressed. A French monaural soundtrack has also been encoded onto the DVD, as have English and French subtitles.

The basic interactive menus include music and provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few choice supplements. Actress Susan Lucci, who portrayed Annie Oakley during a portion of the showís Broadway revival, provides an introduction for this first home video release of ANNIE GET YOUR GUN. Other supplement include the two surviving Judy Garland musical numbers Doiní What Comes Naturílly and Iím An Indian Too, plus footage that includes Frank Morgan, as well as a cut Betty Hutton musical number. Also included is a complete audio recording session track for the song Thereís No Business Like Show Business. A theatrical trailer closes out the supplements.

ANNIE GET YOUR GUN is a genuine classic Hollywood delight that is making its long overdue debut on home video. Thanks to Warnerís superb presentation, the DVD is a worthwhile acquisition for every serious film buff. Recommended.


 Annie Get Your Gun


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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