For Me and My Gal (film)

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For Me and My Gal
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBusby Berkeley
Screenplay byRichard Sherman
Fred F. Finklehoffe
Sid Silvers
Story byHoward Emmett Rogers
Produced byArthur Freed
StarringJudy Garland
Gene Kelly
George Murphy
CinematographyWilliam H. Daniels
Edited byBen Lewis
Music byRoger Edens
Georgie Stoll
Distributed byLoew's Inc.
Release date
  • October 21, 1942 (1942-10-21) (New York City)
Running time
104 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$4.4 million[1]

For Me and My Gal is a 1942 American musical film directed by Busby Berkeley and starring Judy Garland, Gene Kelly – in his film debut – and George Murphy, and featuring Martha Eggerth and Ben Blue. The film was written by Richard Sherman, Fred F. Finklehoffe and Sid Silvers, based on a story by Howard Emmett Rogers inspired by a true story about vaudeville actors Harry Palmer and Jo Hayden, when Palmer was drafted into World War I. The film was a production of the Arthur Freed unit at MGM.


In the heyday of vaudeville, on the verge of America's entrance into World War I, two talented performers, Jo Hayden (Judy Garland) and Harry Palmer (Gene Kelly), set their sights on playing the Palace Theatre on Broadway, the epitome of vaudeville success, and marrying immediately after.

Just weeks before their plans are to be realized Harry gets a draft notice. Intending to obtain a short delay before reporting for duty, he intentionally smashes his hand in a trunk. That same day Jo is notified that her brother, who had been studying to be a doctor, has died in the war.

When she realizes what Harry has done, she rejects him and leaves the act. Harry then tries to undo his rash act and enlist, but none of the armed services will take him as his hand has been permanently crippled. Eventually, he resigns himself to participating in the war effort the only way left open to him, entertaining front-line troops for the YMCA.

When he and his partner find themselves dangerously close to the front, Harry heroically sets out to warn off an ambulance convoy heading into an artillery bombardment. He is wounded while destroying an enemy machine-gun emplacement ambushing the convoy and is apparently commended for his bravery.

After the war, during a victory performance at the Palace Theatre, Jo Hayden performs When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again and sees Harry in the audience. She runs to him and the two reunite on stage to sing "For Me and My Gal", the first song they'd ever performed.



Although directed by Busby Berkeley, For Me and My Gal does not have any of Berkeley's signature large-scale production numbers in it. The songs included in the film are performed as they might have been on the vaudeville stage, choreographed by Bobby Connolly.[2]


For Me and My Gal marked the first real "adult" role for the nineteen-year-old Judy Garland, who had played juvenile parts until then, many of them opposite Mickey Rooney.[4] The original script had called for Harry Palmer to be involved with two women, a singer, which was to be Garland's role, and a dancer, who would have most of the dramatic scenes, but Garland's acting coach Stella Adler, who was an advisor to MGM at the time, suggested to producer Arthur Freed that the two roles be combined, and that Garland be given the part. Adler also suggested Gene Kelly for the lead.[5]

Kelly was 29 years old at the time, and had made a mark on Broadway as the star of Pal Joey and the choreographer of Best Foot Forward.[6] When David O. Selznick signed him to a film contract, Kelly's intention was to return to Broadway after fulfilling his contractual obligation, but he ended up staying in Hollywood for a year because Selznick didn't have a role for him. When Arthur Freed inquired about getting Kelly for For Me and My Gal, Selznick handed over the contract, and Kelly got the part, over the objections of Freed's bosses at MGM.[5][7] The casting of Kelly meant that George Murphy, who was originally going to play "Harry Palmer", was switched to playing "Jimmy Metcalf".

Gene Kelly and Judy Garland got along well – she had been in favor of his getting the part, and during shooting she helped Kelly adjust his stage acting for films, and backed him in disagreements with director Busby Berkeley, whom she did not like. Kelly and Garland went on to star together in two other films, The Pirate (1948) and Summer Stock (1950).[8]

The film was also the American motion picture debut of Hungarian singer Martha Eggerth, who had appeared in over thirty films in Germany. Her career in Hollywood did not last long: she appeared in only two other American films.[9]

For Me and My Gal had an estimated budget of $803,000, and was in production at MGM's Culver City studios from 3 April until 23 May 1942, with additional scenes shot in June. Working titles for the film while it was in production were "Me and My Gal" and "The Big Time".

When the film was initially previewed, the audience was dissatisfied with the ending: they thought that Jo (Garland) should end up with Jimmy (Murphy) rather than Harry (Kelly). This prompted Louis B. Mayer to order three weeks of additional shooting to give Kelly's character more of a conscience and to reduce Murphy's presence in the film.[5]

Release and reception[edit]

For Me and My Gal premiered in New York on 21 October 1942, and opened in Los Angeles on 26 November 1942. It grossed $4,371,000 (consisting of $2,894,000 in the US and Canada and $1,477,000 elsewhere), making it one of the big hits of the year.[5][10]

The studio earned a profit of $2,098,000.[1]

For Me and My Gal was released on VHS in the US on August 1988 by MGM/UA Home Video (#M201379) and on DVD on April 6, 2004 by Warner Home Video.

Awards and honors[edit]

The film received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Score for Roger Edens (musical adaptation) and Georgie Stoll (musical direction).[11] In addition, Gene Kelly received a "Best Actor" award from the National Board of Review for his performance.[11][12]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:



  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. ^ Hirschhorn, Clive (1991) [1981]. The Hollywood Musical (2nd ed.). New York: Portland House. p. 211. ISBN 0-517-06035-3.
  3. ^ TCM Music
  4. ^ All Movie Review
  5. ^ a b c d Frank Miller "For Me and My Gal" TCM article
  6. ^ IBDB Gene Kelly
  7. ^ IMDb Biography for Gene Kelly
  8. ^ Garland and Kelly both also appeared in 1946's Ziegfeld Follies, but not together.
  9. ^ IMDb Martha Eggerth
  10. ^ "101 Pix Gross in Millions" Variety 6 Jan 1943 p 58
  11. ^ a b For Me and My Gal - Awards at IMDb
  12. ^ All Movie Awards
  13. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-04-17. Retrieved 2016-08-13.
  14. ^ "AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-13.

External links[edit]