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Busby Berkeley
Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, George Murphy
Writing Credits:
Richard Sherman, George Finklehoffe, Sid Silvers

Two vaudeville performers fall in love, but find their relationship tested by the arrival of WWI.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 104 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 6/7/2022

• Audio Commentary with Film Historian John Fricke
• 2 Vintage Shorts
• Outtake Musical Numbers
• Radio Version
• Radio Promo
• Trailer


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For Me and My Gal [Blu-Ray] (1942)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 1, 2022)

As noted with my review for 1941’s Ziegfeld Girl, the folks at Warner Archives decided to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Judy Garland’s birth with some new—to-Blu-ray releases. For the second of three, we go to 1942’s For Me and My Gal.

Set during World War I, Jo Hayden (Judy Garland) and Harry Palmer (Gene Kelly) work the vaudeville circuit. They aspire to make it to Broadway, and they also fall in love.

However, various snags occur along the way. Complications ensue that threaten to derail their career and their relationship.

Though he turned 30 in 1942, Gal became Kelly’s cinematic debut. Kelly didn’t achieve notable success until he made it to Broadway in 1938, so his move to Hollywood four years later seems logical.

Kelly’s stage-bound roots show in Gal, as he tends to overplay the role. However, Kelly’s ample charm shines through, so even though he doesn’t quite comprehend the need to tone down his act for the movie camera, he still offers an appealing performance.

Kelly also mixes well with Garland. I admit I tend to view it as a stretch that Garland gets portrayed as a beauty in so many of her movies, and that turns into a minor issue here.

Not that Garland’s appearance plays a substantial role in Gal, but I get the sense the movie intends us to view her as gorgeous, whereas Judy looks average. Nonetheless, she displays good chemistry with Kelly so I can overlook this leap of faith.

Beyond the charm of these two legends, though, I can’t find much to make Gal rise above the crop. Essentially a collection of musical numbers with some melodrama in between, this becomes a thin story.

Indeed, Gal barely aspires to an actual plot. While it gives us some character basics and romantic ups and downs, I wouldn’t want to leave any impression that the film offers much of a narrative.

Gal doesn’t provide a traditional musical, though. It mostly uses the vaudeville framework as an excuse for plenty of production numbers, but because these never integrate with the story, they don’t fit the standard musical concept.

As such, this means the movie tends to grind to a halt for song and dance scenes. Perhaps if Gal came with a strong narrative, these sequences would feel less irrelevant, but as it stands, the production numbers seem like they become too much of the focus.

Perhaps if the movie’s production numbers showed more creativity, they’d become more involving. With Busby Berkeley behind the camera, one might expect lavish musical scenes.

However, because of the way the movie uses song/dance, it doesn’t get the chance for Berkeley’s trademark flights of fancy. We get fairly flat musical sequences that don’t leap off the screen in a memorable way.

The ample talents of Garland and Kelly manage to give some spirit to Gal at times. However, the dominance of a thin story and uninspiring musical numbers mean it fails to become an engaging program.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus B

For Me and My Gal appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a pretty terrific transfer.

Sharpness worked well. Any softness remained minor, as the vast majority of the film looked accurate and concise.

I saw no shimmering or jaggies, and the movie lacked edge haloes. Light grain appeared through the movie, so I suspected no issues with noise reduction.

Print flaws failed to mar the proceedings, so expect no specks, marks or other issues. Blacks looked rich and deep, and the movie enjoyed a nice silvery look.

Shadow detail also appeared clear and smooth. The movie held up very well after all these decades.

I also thought the film’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack worked fine for its age. Speech appeared a little brittle but the lines stayed intelligible and lacked edginess or obvious concerns.

Music appeared peppy enough, and effects followed suit. These elements didn’t pack a punch but they sounded clean and without distortion. This turned into a more than acceptable soundtrack for an older film.

As we move to extras, we open with an audio commentary from film historian John Fricke. He offers a running, screen-specific look at the project’s roots and path to the screen, cast and crew, genre domains, production notes and related subjects.

Fricke starts well, as he imbues lots of good information through the movie’s first act. However, he loses steam as the film progresses.

That doesn’t make the remainder of the track a dud, though, as Fricke continues to produce useful material along the way. Nonetheless, expect a less stimulating discussion as the movie runs.

Two MGM Shorts follow: La Fiesta de Santa Barbara (18:41) and Every Sunday (10:33). From 1935, Fiesta offers a mix of music, comedy and “education”.

Various celebs show up – like Ida Lupino, Buster Keaton, Andy Devine and Harpo Marx – but clearly the short appears on this disc due to the presence of 14-year-old Judy Garland with her sisters. It’s not especially entertaining but its archival value gives it worth.

As for 1936’s Sunday, it also pops up because it features Garland. She gets to act here as well as sing, and it becomes moderately charming.

Next we find a pair of Outtake Musical Numbers: “Three Cheers for the Yanks” (2:33) and “For Me and My Gal Deleted Finale” (2:32). The first allows Garland’s character a rah-rah pro-US tune, whereas the second just delivers a reprise of the title song.

Unfortunately, neither shows filmed footage from the scenes, though we get photographic representations from the shoot. Fans will enjoy them.

Aired in 1943, a Screen Guild Players Radio Production of Gal lasts 29 minutes, 37 seconds. Judy Garland and Gene Kelly reprise their movie roles, while Dick Powell takes over for George Murphy, as Murphy missed the broadcast due to illness.

Given the program’s brevity, it obviously makes major alterations to the film, and the biggest change comes from the use of Jimmy Metcalf – the Murphy/Powell role – as a narrator to deliver much of the movie’s exposition.

Like I mention in the body of my review, Gal lacks much of a real narrative, so this technique works fairly well. The radio adaptation still seems too rushed but it becomes a decent take on the property and it loses less than usual due to the film’s already thin story.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we conclude with a Leo Is On the Air Radio Promo. It occupies 13 minutes, 49 seconds and provides an extended ad for Gal.

“Leo” mainly presents soundbites from the film, but it also includes some unique content with Judy Garland and Gene Kelly. Though “Leo” never becomes especially interesting, it offers a decent archival reel.

Despite the presence of legends Judy Garland and Gene Kelly, For Me and My Gal fails to deliver an engaging movie musical. It suffers from a limp plot and lackluster production numbers. The Blu-ray boasts excellent visuals and good audio plus a decent roster of bonus materials. Nothing much about Gal makes an impact.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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