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Felix E. Feist
"When Johnny Comes Marching Home, was one of several musicals made by Universal during the WW2 years. This one was different from most made during this era in that it was aimed not only at teenagers, but at the adults as well.
This movie was shot in 1942, at a time in which the USA was just starting to get heavily involved in WW2. The plot is simple: A war hero is on a 30 day leave and wants to spend his furlough in peace and anonymity. He assumes a different name and settles in. In the process, the people he's around mistakenly think he's a deserter and scheme to convince him to turn himself in. Dramatic irony sets in, the usual complications ensue, and eventually everything gets straightened out. The movie gets zealously patriotic at times, and some of the situations in the movie are dated to the war years and won't be fully understood by those not familiar with how times were then.
Universal didn't really splurge on acting talent in this film. Well-known Allan Jones and Jane Frazee highlighted the marquee, with studio contract-kids Gloria Jean, Donald O'Connor, and Peggy Ryan doing their part. The rest of the cast were pretty much stock. What Universal didn't scrimp on was entertainment; the movie is packed with it from beginning to end. Jones, Frazee and Jean all sing several songs. Popular Phil Spitalny appears with his "all girl orchestra". O'Connor and Ryan are their usual zany selves, and of course they perform a couple of their energetic dance routines (with Jean joining them briefly in each), and they even sing. Violinist Evelyn Silverstone (billed as "Evelyn and her Magic Violin"), who later gained fame with Lawrence Welk, performs a couple of virtuoso numbers. Other song and dance routines are worked in by others. As was the case in many of these musicals, Universal basically built the story around the entertainment.
I haven't seen this movie on TV in recent years, but as is the case for every movie that Gloria Jean appeared in, you can buy a copy from Gloria herself on her website. IMDb policy forbids the listing of URLs, but you can find her website by using a search engine and her full name of "Gloria Jean Schoonover." If you're a fan of the old "B" musicals, you'll want to see this one.
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