While Girl Crazy falls solidly into the Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland "let's put on a show" series, it has a few touches that distinguish it. Chief among these is that, unlike in most of the others, Garland and Rooney are not playing kids. True, they're still students, but at least they're in college, and they get to act (within the constraints of a typical musical of the period) like adults. The "gee whiz" and "golly gee" atmosphere is gone, and in its place, the two get to engage in a little Astaire-Rogers styled "adversarial romantics." Crazy is also different in that the theatrical world is not at the forefront until the film is half over. And finally, Crazy uses a large chunk of the score from the original stage musical, rather than jettisoning most songs and replacing them with inferior versions. The fact that the characters are older really gives the stars something to act this go-round, and they do a wonderful job. Rooney is still occasionally a bit too energetic, but for the most part it's a restrained and winning performance. And Garland -- who never looked better than she does here -- gives one of her finest performances. The material may not give her the chance to stretch that, say, A Star Is Born, would -- but the effectiveness and variety of her performance with such light material is all the more noteworthy. Vocally, she's in fine voice, with a melancholy "But Not for Me," a deadpan "Bidin' My Time," and a grand "I Got Rhythm." Nancy Walker is enjoyable but wasted in a role that gives her little to do; by contrast, June Allyson, with just one chorus of the opening number, has rarely been better. The "Rhythm" number, by Busby Berkeley, is great fun, but all of Girl Crazy is fine entertainment.
by Craig Butler review