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.

For Me and My Gal
Formeandmygalmp.jpg

Theatrical release poster

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.

After the war, during a victory performance at the Palace Theatre, Jo sees Harry in the audience and runs to him. The two reunite on stage to sing “For Me and My Gal”, the first song they had ever performed together.

Made on a budget of less than 1 million, the musical was hugely popular at the box-office due to its charm, music–and timely release.

Oscar Nominations: 1

Score (Musical): Roger Edens and Georgie Stoll

Oscar Awards: None

Cast

Jo Hyden (Judy Garland)

Jimmy K. Metcalf (George Murphy)

Harry Palmer (Gene Kelly)

With:

Marta Eggerth

Ben Blue

Horace (Stephen) McNally

Richard Quine

Lucille Norman

Keenan Wynn

Credits:

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.

Black-and-white

Running time: 104 Minutes

Release date: October 21, 1942

Music by Roger Edens
Georgie Stoll
Cinematography William H. Daniels
Edited by Ben Lewis

Production company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Distributed by Loew’s Inc.

Budget $841,000
Box office $4.4 million