New This Week
Girl Crazy was the last and best of the four MGM musicals that Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland made between 1939 and 1943. It was the second of three film versions of the 1930 Broadway musical starring Ginger Rogers and introducing Ethel Merman.
Unlike the 1940 Rooney-Garland musical Strike Up the Band, which only utilized the title song from the George and Ira Gershwin original, substituting in songs by other composers, all but one of the songs in 1943’s Girl Crazy was written by the Gershwins for the 1930 Broadway version. The one added song (“Fascinating Rhythm”) is from another Gershwin score. Who needs substitutions when the original score includes such gems as “I Got Rhythm,” “Treat Me Rough,” “Bidin’ My Time,” “Embraceable You,” and “But Not for Me?”
Unlike the kids they played in Babes in Arms, Strike Up the Band, and Babes on Broadway, Rooney and Garland were all grown up now. Rooney made this between The Human Comedy and
The supporting cast includes Gil Stratton, Robert E. Strickland, Rags Ragland, June Allyson, Nancy Walker, and Guy Kibbee.
Also new from Warner Archive is Million Dollar Mermaid, long considered the crown jewel in Esther Williams’ career. It’s the one film she made highlighting her swimming skills in which MGM’s writers were not forced to come up with novel ways of getting her into the water. The film is a biography of Australian-born swimmer Annette Kellerman (1887-1975) who gained greater fame in the U.S. after being arrested for wearing a one-piece bathing suit in 1907 Boston. She later became a major attraction at New York’s Hippodrome and a silent film star. Victor Mature co-stars as her future husband, with Walter Pidgeon as her supportive father. Her older brother, cinematographer Maurice Kellerman (1883-1943), is not mentioned in the film directed by the legendary Mervyn LeRoy (Quo Vadis).