Eleven years after scoring one of the biggest hits on the Broadway stage, Irving Berlin's musical comedy +Annie Get Your Gun was brought to television in a lavish, live two-hour color presentation. Mary Martin, who ironically had been offered the role before Ethel Merman made it her own back in 1946, stars as sharpshooter Annie Oakley, the rag-tag backwoods gal who became the toast of two continents as the main attraction of Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West show. The libretto, by Herbert and Dorothy Fields, naturally takes many liberties with the facts, focusing on the tempestuous romance between the level-headed Annie and the arrogant, bombastic marksman Frank Butler (John Raitt). Most of the laughs are provided by the wheeling and dealing of Annie's PR man, Charlie Davenport (Donald Burr), and by another of Buffalo Bill's star performers, Indian medicine man Sitting Bull (Zachary Charles), who has become so "assimilated" by the trappings of showbiz that he can't even remember how to perform a simple scalping (needless to say, much of the humor involving Sitting Bull would considered politically incorrect today). The songs include such Berlin standards as "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly," "The Girl That I Marry," "They Say It's Wonderful," "Sun in the Morning," "Anything You Can Do," and, of course, "There's No Business Like Show Business." This production of Annie Get Your Gun currently exists in black-and-white kinescope form, but though pictorial quality is rough, the entertainment value is unquestionable.
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