Betty Hutton (1921-2007)

I should be studying for my midterms, but some things seem a bit more important at the moment.

Betty Hutton, a celebrated singer and actress who starred in musicals and comedies during the 1940s and 1950s died on Sunday. She was 86.

In The Miracle of Morgans Creek, Hutton plays Trudy Kockenlocker. In the first scene that we encounter Trudy, she is lip-syncing a song, sung by a man with a deep bass voice. During the scene, she shifts her body, rising up and down as the tone an pitch changes. It’s a pretty incredible moment and (in my opinion) sums up Betty Hutton.

Actually, there are a ton of moments that are classic Betty Hutton. (Go to YouTube and you’ll find a bunch)

Check this one out:

Hutton was “a brassy, energetic performer with a voice that could sound like a fire alarm”. She starred in such films as Annie Get Your Gun and The Greatest Show on Earth.

Her on-screen presence was energetic and just incredible. Last week in my film class, we watched The Miracle at Morgan’s Creek; I was the only person out of 40 who had seen it. It’s such a shame that she isn’t very well known.

Her career faded as quickly as it had grown; her last film, 1957’s Spring’s Reunion received little recognition. Hutton disappeared into obscurity, but during the 1980s her career had a reemergance of sorts. She appeared in the Broadway musical Annie and was teaching comedy at Emerson College.

Betty Hutton was a fantastic and energetic performer. She was more appreciated than she’ll ever know.

New York Times obituary

I like this clip too:

Review: The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944)

In the opening scenes of The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, Tracy Kockenlocker (Betty Hutton) is introduced as she is lipsyncing to a song recording of a deep bass. As the notes are held, she bends, crouches and wildly waves her arms.

Don’t be alarmed. You’ve just entered the hilarious comedic adventure that is The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek. Often overlooked, this is a mad-capped, fast-paced, wildly funny picture directed by Preston Sturges (the man behind The Lady Eve and Sullivan’s Travels.)

 

Tracy, a small-town girl, is the darling of Morgan’s Creek. Her charm and pretty looks attracts attention everywhere she goes. So naturally, on the eve of a massive farewell party for the troops, Tracy’s protective father, Constable Kockenlocker (William Demarest) forbids her from attending. Desperate, Trudy calls upon her neurotic friend Norval Jones, played by Eddie Bracken, for help.

She pretends to go out with Norval, who is unfit for military because he sees “black spots” when panicked. Instead she borrows his car and after too much Victory “lemonade”, Trudy returns from her wild night with a few problems. She doesn’t remember the night before. It’s up to Trudy, her wise-cracking younger sister Emmy (Diana Lynn), and Norval to fix her mistakes, even if it means breaking the law.

What’s great about this picture, is how it is not only a genius comedy with sharp, suggestive dialogue, a cute love story, and hysterical physical aspects, but it is a social satire as well. Director and writer Preston Sturges uses to picture to comment on the pristine image of small town America.

This is by far my favorite Preston Sturges picture. The duo of Betty Hutton and Eddie Bracken is perfect. And I love The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek a little bit more every time I see it.

Updated October 11, 2010