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Twin sisters Rosemary and Susie Allison are successful nightclub performers. Their act is about to come to a close when serious-minded Rosemary announces she's joining the Waves. Fun-loving Susie decides to enlist also, especially after she learns that crooner Johnny Cabot has just been drafted by the Navy. Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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HERE COME THE WAVES (Paramount, 1944), produced and directed by Mark Sandrich, is not a beach movie about surfers balancing themselves on the ocean waves. With this being the 1940s rather than any one of many teenage beach musicals from the 1960s, HERE COME THE WAVES is a reflection of the times set during World War II where those from all walks of life, in this case women, working for the morale of their country by joining the WAVES. With a handful of war-related dramas commonly seen in theaters during the war years (1941-45), the movie industry also went on the lighter side of entertainment with its abundance of musicals as well. With the feature named players of Bing Crosby, Betty Hutton and Sonny Tufts over the title, HERE COME THE WAVES may have its Paramount Number One box-office attraction, Bing Crosby, in the lead, but in the long run the film very much belongs to Betty Hutton in roles that allows her to be the body of two different personalities, one her usual free-spirited self, the other a serious-minded one.
The first thirteen minutes devotes itself on the Allison twins, Susan and Rosemary (Betty Hutton), sisters of very different personalities entertaining at New York City's Cabanna Club. Susan, a happy-go-lucky twin born 12 minutes after her dignified older sister, Rosemary, worships Johnny Cabot, a singing idol of millions. In spite of their popularity, Rosemary enlists in the Navy, with Susan following suit, each becoming members of the WAVES. Both girls going through their five month training process with other female recruits at the Naval Training School in the Bronx. While on liberty leave, Susan takes Rosemary to a movie theater, seated seated thousands of swooning teenage bobby soxers, attending the personal appearance of Johnny Cabot (Bing Crosby) following the release of his latest motion picture. After the performance, Windy Windhurst (Sonny Tufts), Johnny's Navy pal, introduces him to his girlfriends from back home, who happen to be Susan and Rosemary. While Susan is overly excited seated next to her living legend, Rosemary snubs him. Because Johnny is tired of being chased by female fans, disguising himself to avoid being attacked, finds the serious-minded Rosemary a welcome change of pace, a girl who actually dislikes him. Initially rejected from Navy enlistment because of his color-blindness, Johnny gets his wish enlisting after the Navy requirements become less strict, stationed at a Navy Base in San Diego, California, leaving his thousands of swooning females fans behind him. With Johnny attempting to be a good a sailor as his father was during World War I, thanks to one of the Allison twins, also stationed in San Diego, does Johnny get himself involved in some theatrical project rather than fulfilling a personal obligation he's long wanted to do. Other members of the cast are: Ann Doran (Ruth); Gwen Crawford (Tex); Noel Neill (Dorothy); Mae Clarke (Ensign Kern); Harry Barris (The Bandleader), and in bit parts, Mona Freeman and Yvonne DeCarlo, among others.
Between some mishaps on Betty Hutton's madcap part, the motion picture soundtrack with score by Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen are as follows: "Join the Navy" (sung by WAVES and two Betty Huttons); "Moonlight Becomes You" (Bing Crosby's voice heard over the radio); "That Old Black Magic," "Let's Take the Long Way Home" (both sung by Crosby); "Accentuate the Positive" (sung by Crosby and Sonny Tufts); "There's a Fellow Waiting in Poughkeepsie" (sung by one Betty Hutton); "I Promise You" (sung by Crosby and Hutton); and "Here Come the Waves" and "Join the Navy" (sung by the WAVES). Of the songs in the final print, some refreshing, others good but forgettable (in terms by today's standards), "Accentuate the Positive" earned an Academy Award nomination as Best Song for 1945, while "I Promise You" is wonderfully done.
With a story about a popular crooner getting away from it all by enlisting in the military branch is nothing new when HERE COME THE WAVES was released. Dick Powell did the very same thing in IN THE NAVY (Universal, 1941) where his shipmates turned out to be the popular comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Frank Sinatra, whose crooning popularity was then on the rise, was no doubt, going through the same process as Crosby's on screen character, hence the similarities depicted here. It's a wonder if Sinatra actually used sunglasses and fake beard to disguise himself from the crowds outside the theater? As for Sonny Tufts, his performance comes as a sheer reminder of Randolph Scott's character from the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers musical, FOLLOW THE FLEET (RKO, 1936), the latter which dealt with two sailors and two non-twin sisters, though Ginger playing twins might have been interesting casting had that been considered.
What makes HERE COME THE WAVES enjoyable is watching the two personality proceedings enacted by two Betty Huttons, one blonde, the other red-headed, while seeing how she develops her character playing the serious-minded sister as opposed to her typical wild and crazy one in the same motion picture. Though Crosby seems a bit too old playing a Navy recruit as well as working opposite the much younger Betty Hutton(s), it really didn't matter considering their box-office appeals back in the day. Another notable mention are those comic-strip type backdrops used in production number sequences that seems to get enough attention during the proceedings.
Quite popular in 1944/45, but nearly forgotten today, HERE COME THE WAVES, which had numerous late show showings on commercial television from the 1960s to 1980s, along with cable TV broadcast on American Movie Classics (1993), home video distribution (1994) and later on DVD as part of the Bing Crosby collection that keeps this wartime musical from becoming obscure in cinema history. (***)
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