“Irving Berlin came from the old school of Broadway songwriters who did not write songs specifically for characters and plot points, but rather as independent numbers in shows that were more revues than book musicals per se. But Berlin was also highly adaptable, and he approached his assignment as substitute for Jerome Kern (who had died suddenly) on Dorothy and Herbert Fields’ musical about Annie Oakley in the spirit of integrated musicals that producers Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II had established with Oklahoma! only three years before” (Ruhlmann c).
“Berlin’s songs for Annie Get Your Gun were all about character and plot, from the bawdy Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly, in which Annie affirms the value of a common-sense barnyard education, to the witty Anything You Can Do, which illuminates her final confrontation and reconciliation with love interest Frank Butler. Ordinarily, that should have meant that the songs were less easy to extract for the hit parade, but in fact Berlin’s score produced more chart hits through cover versions than any Broadway score before or since” (Ruhlmann c).
“Oklahoma! had also established the popularity of original cast albums, and only ten days after the…Broadway opening, star Ethel Merman was in a recording studio with other members of the stage production to record 12 songs from the show…For reasons not yet explained, second leads Betty Ann Nyman and Kenny Bowers were not present, and for the recording of their duet Who Do You Love, I Hope?, they were replaced by Robert Lenn and Kathleen Carnes” (Ruhlmann c).
“Merman and her co-star Ray Middleton were Broadway veterans of the pre-microphone era, experts at projecting their voices from the footlights to the rear balcony, and their stage styles carried over to the recording” (Ruhlmann c).
“Merman, of course, possessed a clarion voice that was never better represented than in songs like ‘Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly’ and I Got the Sun in the Morning, while Middleton’s sonorous baritone informed The Girl That I Marry and My Defenses Are Down. And when the two got together on They Say It’s Wonderful and especially Anything You Can Do, the belting reached near-bellow status” (Ruhlmann c).
“But that isn’t to say the songs, crafted for the performers, didn’t support their interpretations. Berlin wrote simply and directly, his jokes broad, his emotions direct, and the singers hit his meanings as surely as they did his notes. The result was exactly what a cast album should be, an accurate representation of the music of a show. And since this show was a landmark in Broadway history, that made the cast album an important contribution to musical history as well as an aural delight” (Ruhlmann c).
“The movie version of Annie Get Your Gun, coming four years after the opening of the wildly successful 1946 Broadway musical, was a reasonable Hollywood transfer. Typically, a third of the songs were dropped – no I Got Lost in His Arms, I’ll Share It All with You, I’m a Bad, Bad Man, Moonshine Lullaby, or ‘Who Do You Love, I Hope?’” (Ruhlmann s).
“But ten numbers remained, among them the show's best-known songs – Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly, There’s No Business Like Show Business, and ‘Anything You Can Do’ – even if songwriter Irving Berlin was forced to bowdlerize the lyrics to Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly” (Ruhlmann s).
“The film benefited from unusually felicitous casting. The show had been written for Ethel Merman, who was not considered bankable in Hollywood. But Betty Hutton brought her usual energy and effervescence to her portrayal, and Howard Keel, in his first major movie role, gave her strong support. The result was one of the biggest box-office hits of 1950. MGM Records released an eight-song soundtrack album in each of the current record formats, 78s, EPs, and a ten-inch LP, and there were several 12" LP reissues in the 1960s and 1970s before a legal dispute put both the film and the soundtrack album in mothballs for decades” (Ruhlmann s).
“On November 21, 2000, in connection with the belated video release of the film, Rhino Records’ Movie Music series in cooperation with Turner Classic Movies Music finally reissued the soundtrack album on CD, and it was a far cry from the first version put out 50 years earlier. To begin with, the original song list had been expanded from eight to 18 titles by adding in the two songs that were cut from the soundtrack album (Colonel Buffalo Bill and I’m an Indian, Too); including three reprises; mixing in four excerpts from the orchestral background music; and digging up Let’s Go West Again, a new song Berlin wrote for the film that was not used” (Ruhlmann s).
“But all these additions were only the beginning. Back in 1949, MGM originally intended Annie Get Your Gun for its biggest musical star, Judy Garland. Garland prerecorded the score and started to make the picture, but her erratic behavior caused her to be suspended from the studio and the production to be shut down until Hutton was borrowed from Paramount” (Ruhlmann s).
“For the new soundtrack release, the material was appended…affording an opportunity to compare Hutton and Garland…Garland performs adequately, but the material for the most part doesn’t suit her. It isn’t until she gets to the ballad ‘They Say It’s Wonderful’ that she really sounds at home, and it’s easy to speculate that ‘Let’s Go West Again,’ another ballad, was written to her strengths and might have made the final cut if she had, too. It is Hutton who comes closer to the spirit of the Broadway Annie Oakley” (Ruhlmann s).