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In WWI dancer Jerry Jones stages an all-soldier show on Broadway, called Yip Yip Yaphank. Wounded in the war, he becomes a producer. In WWII his son Johnny Jones, who was before his father's assistant, gets the order to stage a new all-soldier show, called This is the Army. But in his personal life he has problems, because he refuses to marry his fiancée until the war is over. Written by
Stephan Eichenberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Standard Irving Berlin wartime musical is flag-waving patriotism at its most feverish pitch...
What really enhanced my enjoyment of THIS IS THE ARMY last night on TCM is the fact that for once I saw a good, restored print of the wartime Warner Bros. musical and it looked great. The colors were vibrant. JOAN LESLIE never looked so beautiful with her reddish brown hair and the uniformly good cast of contract players headed by RONALD REAGAN, ALAN HALE, STANLEY RIDGES and others mixed well with the assorted real-life soldiers and sailors and marines who made up the bulk of the show. GEORGE MURPHY does a standout job as Reagan's show business father.
The Irving Berlin tunes were the film's saving grace. His jaunty "This Is The Army, Mr. Jones," "Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning," and other sprightly numbers compensate for the very thin plot that has Reagan and Leslie as wartime sweethearts who don't get together until the final reel after quarreling foolishly about whether or not to tie the knot.
Some of the comedy skits between soldiers are beyond corny and fall flat for today's audiences, but as hokey as most of it is, it's still an enjoyable show, especially the sight of beefy men in drag doing their thing with Berlin's irresistible songs. ALAN HALE is especially funny as an overweight soldier forced to take a female part in one of the show's big musical numbers.
And, of course, the blackface routine may turn some politically correct spectators off the entire film.
Trivia note: It's amusing to see Reagan get excited about the presence of the President of the United States in the audience--someone shown only in a distant shot. Reagan himself was about to occupy the White House for two straight terms at a future time. A rare and ironic moment!
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