Betty Hutton

Betty HuttonI’ve gotten into the habit of posting little things that occur to me on Facebook. But I’m in the process of leaving Facebook. It really is an evil dump. And it bugs me that I’m creating free content for it.

Few songs feel me with so much energy as “Murder, He Says” written by Frank Loesser and Jimmy McHugh for the film Happy Go Lucky (1943). It is sung by Betty Hutton who co-starred in the film.

Hutton was never what I would call a movie star. Her focus was more on live performance although she had a number of hit records like the Hoagy Carmichael song Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief. If you watch the video for that song, you can tell that Hutton was something of a goof.

Her biggest success was probably in the title role of Annie Get Your Gun — a role she was born to play. I’m just not that fond of musicals like that anymore. (I loved them when I was a kid!)

The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek

The film I most associate her with is The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944). It was one of the handful of Preston Sturges classics made during World War II. In it, Hutton plays a classic girl who can’t say no. She wakes up one morning having remembered that she married a soldier the night before but can’t remember his name (except that it had a “z” in it). Later, she learns that she is pregnant.

The film is a maze of absurdities in its attempt to justify what everyone watching knows is about premarital sex in the age of the Hays Code. If you get a chance, you should watch it. The plot doesn’t make much sense. But Sturges’ dialog is as witty as ever and Betty Hutton is her usual effervescent self.

Murder, He Says

Here is Hutton performing “Murder, He Says” for the troops:

2 thoughts on “Betty Hutton

  1. I myself had zero interest in musicals as a youngster. It wasn’t until the release of “That’s Entertainment” in 1974 that I was exposed to all those great old Technicolor song & dance numbers. If you don’t know, “That’s Entertainment” was a quite popular theatrically released compilation of old music & dance routines from the MGM back catalog. Nowadays a lot of them can be found on YouTube.

    Hutton was an appealing performer. I think she and Howard Keel have great chemistry in the “Anything You Can Do” number from “Annie”. Watching her perform reminds me once again how little variety in style and technique one finds in contemporary pop music. Here’s some commentary about that – despite the title, it’s more analysis than rant:

    The TRUTH Why Modern Music Is Awful
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVME_l4IwII

    This isn’t to deny that there is a wonderful variety of current musicians out there, everything from baroque classical to Austrian yodeling. It’s one of the things that make it easy to get sucked into YouTube’s black hole, only re-emerging days later unshaven, bleary-eyed, and sleep deprived.

    • I remember That’s Entertainment. My exposure was mostly from checking out original cast albums from the library. I liked the movies and plays too, of course. I still love movies and plays — just not those kinds! Well, that’s not exactly true. I do think that Andrew Lloyd Webber has single-handedly destroyed musical theater. Of course, it speaks to how poor the audience is that he was able to do it. At this point, I really don’t want to see any play in a theater of more than a few hundred people. The Fantasticks has been a big influence on me — not really in style but approach: musicals can be small, intimate affairs. What I’m facing in my own work is that the music I am capable of is just not up to the theater I’m able to write. I don’t know what to do about that. I’ll try to watch the video later. I’m really business for the next two weeks.

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