The last of the Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland Backyard Musicals, Girl Crazy was preceded by Babes in Arms (1939), Strike Up the Band (1940) and Babes on Broadway (1941). Each movie allowed the young stars to show off their singing, dancing and comedic talents. Mickey and Judy where always eager to “put on a show,” and this outing is no different than the others. Once again, their energy and enthusiasm are to be admired.
In Girl Crazy (from the George and Ira Gershwin stage musical which had already been made into a movie by RKO in 1932) Mickey plays Danny Churchill, the playboy son of a wealthy New York publisher. Sick of his son’s antics his father sends him out west to Cody College an all-male institution in Arizona. There, he meets the bubbly Ginger Gray (Garland) who happens to be the dean’s granddaughter and immediately falls for her.
When Danny first arrives at Cody, he’s a fish out of water. He’s used to going to bed at 6 a.m., not waking up at that time. However, since this is an MGM musical, everyone in the audience knows Danny will adjust and things will work out in the end. This transparent setup only works because of the remarkable talents of and chemistry between Rooney and Garland. They could sing and dance, do comedy with the best of them, and even pull off a dramatic scene.
Whether or not you are a fan of Mickey Rooney or Judy Garland, it’s impossible to dispute the energy and enthusiasm the two put into their performances. Mickey is a ball of energy, entertaining Judy with his own interpretation of a tennis and boxing match in his own mind. As for Judy, it’s always about her voice! When she sits at the piano and serenades the boys with “Embraceable You,” It’s breathtaking. By today’s standards the song isn’t suggestive, but she sings it as she walks flirtatiously around the room making a point to touch every one of the boys arms as she sings such lyrics as, “I love all the many charms about you, above all I want my arms about you. Don’t be a naughty baby…come to mama come to mama do. My sweet embraceable you.” Great stuff.
The supporting cast includes Guy Kibbee, Nancy Walker and June Allyson (who gets to sing one song), while Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra provide the music. Girl Crazy features legendary stars performing legendary songs. Unfortunately, the story is trite and rehashed. Rooney snd Garland do what they can with the material. but the story itself, without their zeal, is completely forgettable. That said, Girl Crazy isn’t a horrible film by any means but its only unique offering is the presence of Rooney and Garland.
Warner Archive delivers another beautiful 1080p transfer, courtesy of a brand new 4K restoration produced from the film’s best surviving elements. Deep blacks, crisp whites, and varied grays distinguish this image. The film’s natural grain structure remains intact. Though some softness is occasionally an issue, overall the picture boasts excellent clarity and contrast. Shadow delineation is strong, and close-ups are sharp.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track provides excellent dialogue, strong music cues, and a well-balanced sound stage. There are no real signs of damage.
Optional English (SDH) subtitles are included.
Like Strike Up the Band, these extras are recycled from the 2007 Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland Collection:
- Song Selection (11 clips)
- Introduction by Mickey Rooney (4:10)
- Audio Commentary by film historian John Fricke
- Hollywood Daredevils (9:21) A 1943 Pete Smith Specialty short.
- The Early Bird Dood It! (8:51) An unrestored MGM cartoon directed by the legendary Tex Avery.
- “I Got Rhythm” Stereo Remix Version (7:31)
- “Bronco Busters” Outtake (Audio only, 2:22)
- Theatrical Trailer (2:13)
Movie title: Girl Crazy (1943)
Director(s): Norman Taurog, Busby Berkeley
Actor(s): Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Gil Stratton , Robert E. Strickland , Rags Ragland , June Allyson
Genre: Romance, Musical, Comedy