For Me and My Gal (1942): Busby Berkeley’s Musical, Starring Judy Garland and Gene Kelly in Screen Debut

MGM used the contexts of World War I and vaudeville to make this patriotic film, which delighted audiences in its nostalgic view of that era and form of entertainment.

“For Me and My Gal” marks the stunning feature debut of Gene Kelly who would become one of the best song-and-dance men in the business for the next two decades.

Busby Berkeley cast the studio’s top star, Judy Garland, as Jo Hayden, who troops the boards with Jimmy Metcalf (George Murphy), Sid Simms (Ben Blue), and Lily Duncan (Lucille Norman).

Jo loves her job but her main motivation is to make money so that her kid brother can go to medical school. She then teams with a smooth operator, Harry Palmer (Gene Kelly), who promises better career and rewards if she joins his song-and-dance act.  But while they struggle, Jimmy and Sid hit the big time.

Jo falls for Harry but he favors Marta Eggerth (Eve Minard).  When WWI becomes a threat to his career, Harry dodges the draft, which motivates Jo to desert him

This one stands out because of a very startling scene in which Harry slams a trunk lid down on his hand to wound himself in order to be draft exempt.

Although Joe and Harry eventually unite, the idea of putting personal career over duty to country had an impact on audiences of the day.

One of the best musicals made during WWII about American soldiers and their girls, “For Me and My Gal” boasts many wonderful old tunes and some splendid production numbers.


Oscar Nominations: 1

Score (Musical): Roger Edens and Georgie Stoll

Oscar Awards: None


Jo Hyden (Judy Garland)

Jimmy K. Metcalf (George Murphy)

Harry Palmer (Gene Kelly)



Marta Eggerth

Ben Blue

Horace (Stephen) McNally


Richard Quine


Lucille Norman


Keenan Wynn












Produced by Arthur Freed.


Directed by Busby Berkeley.


Screenplay by Richard Sherman, Fred Finklehoffe and Sid Silvers.


Original story by Howard Emmett Rogers.


Song “For Me and My Gal” by George W. Meyer, Edgar Leslie and E. Ray Goetz.






Running time: 104 Minutes


Release date: October 21, 1942






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