Girl Crazy (1943), Norman Taurog/ Busby Berkeley


Girl Crazy, directed by two men, Norman Taurog and Busby Berkeley is a musical film based of the stage musical of the same name. It’s sort of romantic, but more so of a young rich kid, natural and gathering himself.

The film centers around Danny Churchhill, a young white boy rich kid from the city. It’s been doing shitty in school and trying to get with all the beautiful gals with town, also just spending too much money at the clubs. The newspapers keep writing up of his adventures and his father soon gets annoyed of his son’s actions, so he decides to send him to a college in a middle of everywhere.

He’s upset, but he accepts it. He takes the long train ride to middle of nowhere, in the “American West”. Even though the film is in black and white, you feel the dust and dry air of when he arrives. He’s lost for words and eventually makes it down this long road to “Cody College”. There’s this comedic stance, of the forever road, in the hot, melting sun. He keeps dropping his luggage and is only saved when he see’s a car and freaks out for a ride.

Surprise, Surprise, the one reason his father sent him away (to get away from the girls), is the first second he met on his way to the college. The gal in the car is Ginger Gray, played by Judy Garland. She’s this pretty little thing, who works as the “postal mistress” for the school. Obviously all the students at this all-male school has a crush on her.

Danny immediately falls for it too. But at this point in the film, you don’t actually take it seriously. As a character, he’s flaky and annoying. OR AT LEAST I FOUND HIM TO BE.

Upon getting to the school, he’s taken back. It’s old, the guys are all dressed as cowboys and they students don’t seem to be too impressed with the new kid. The rooms are bare and it’s just dull. They tease him for not knowing how to ride a horse, and trick Danny into riding the craziest horse of them all. Eventually know, things seem to calm down in some senses. He begins to become pals with few of the guys who he now has to live, work and study with and life sort of continues.

The problem with Danny, is that he gives up a little too easily. It’s definitely in his character at least. He’s this rich kid, any sort of difficulty, they either call their dad or go running for the hills. Both happen, but Ginger keeps pulling him back. Or at least the need to make Ginger happy.

There’s also this one scene, where it’s Ginger’s birthday and all the boys come out to celebrate. Especially this cocky guy who promises to win her heart over. Danny is being a creep while this is all happening, he’s hiding behind a boulder and a few cactus, watching Ginger be swayed. One the other guy is gone, he jumps out and tries to romance her too, even giving her this family locket as a token. She’s smitten about it.

Eventually there is trouble at the school. Enrollment is down, and the college is set to close next year, unless they can get a new bunch of students to apply. Everyone is depressed, because they’re all in the mindset of “who-would-want-to-go-a-school-in-the-middle-of-nowhere” attitude. They’re all stumped on what could save the day.

But guess who has the winning plan? Why, Danny. He proposes that they have a fair/ a party to end all parties to attract future students. He would use his fathers contacts to invite and plan it and invite all the girls to have a sort of mrs.americanwest if you will. It will be amazing he says.

He and Ginger then travels to the city to visit the governor, to convince to agree, that if they gather up enough future enrollment for next year by a certain date, the school wouldn’t be closed. He agrees, and they also invite the governor’s daughter to the party (she would be apart of the contest and hopefully brings good publicity). While in the city, Danny also takes it upon himself to party up and convince a handful of other girls about coming to the party and participating, hinting that they would win the crown. Ginger knew he would, so he gives him back the locket as good luck and to hopefully bring in some high rollers for the event.

It’s a hit, he promises all the girls that they would win. The only downside is at one point, while trying to be this flirty creature, Danny is cornered by the governor’s daughter and she takes the special locket away from him. He’s surprised, but not worried- knowing that sometime soon he’ll get it back.

Fast forward to the party, and everyone dancing and enjoying themselves. All the girls are excited, thinking that each will be this unique flower and queen for the night. Danny knows that everything might explode in his face, so he starts hiding and running around being the silly man he is. Eventually, he’s called to the stage and while on the way there notices that the governor’s daughter is wearing the special locket, surprised and trying to shield Ginger from seeing it, he dodges and swings around, only to be pulled up to the stage finally.

The votes are counted, two girls are standing on stage- the race was close. It was Ginger and the Governor’s Daughter. Danny is in the middle, standing like a scared duck- both girls thinking that they’ll win. Obviously it’s the daughter who wins, and Ginger turns to her to congratulate her broken hearted only to see the special locket Danny has given to her earlier on! Two broken-hearted moments in one night! No one is worth that!

And that’s that basically.. the film winds down to basically Danny convincing Ginger that he really loves her and she instantly bends to his will. They get more than enough students wanting to enroll (all girls though, so the school will have to be co-ed now) and everything ends in this grand musical. The end.

I don’t know if I really liked this film. It felt too traditional American, if that makes sense. I mean, I guess something has to be. Both leading characters, Danny and Ginger- seemed to work well together- though ridiculously corny. And  I found it hilarious that the leading male character, was at least a foot shorter than all the ladies. Something that bugged me, was how “oh this is the ladies role and this is the male role” was played. There was also a moment when Ginger turns to her girlfriend and tells her that she will get fat if she eats too many bananas. I thought that was hilarious, but stupid. Judy Garland was just strong in the times. I don’t know if I would consider her a Queen- but definitely a thriving princess.

6/10 The musicals were funny. Good job George and Ira Gershwin.


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