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I am a great fan of the late John Garfield. If you are a Garfield buff,
it may surprise you to learn that anyone would consider Hollywood
Canteen a great Garfield film since he's on screen for such a very
short time and since he did so many more "substantive" vehicles like
"Body and Soul", "Gentleman's Agreement", "The Breaking Point", and
"Force of Evil".
But you'd have to understand that the idea for the real Hollywood Canteen originated with Garfield, supposedly after he paid a visit to the famous Stage Door Canteen in New York. He got together with Bette Davis, and between them they persuaded all the major studios to support a similar place in Hollywood where servicemen could relax, have fun, and mingle with movie stars.
The movie's plot is utterly preposterous, but that makes no difference. The chemistry between stars Joan Leslie and Robert Hutton is wonderful. Joan's role was originally to have been played by Ann Sheridan, but she turned it down because she, too, thought the idea of a soldier on leave falling in love with a movie star at the Canteen and actually getting a chance to spend some with her was ridiculous.
In my opinion, Joan turned out to be absolutely perfect. She was quite young when the movie was made (only 18 or 19), but one of Warner Brothers' most popular actresses of the early 1940s.
Formal reviews of Hollywood Canteen at the time it was released tended to pan the movie, even though it was a commercial success. But for today's audiences it's two hours of great fun. There are terrific song and dance numbers by some of Hollywood's best.
The great irony of this movie has to do with what happened to John Garfield. Declared 4-F because of a heart condition, Garfield repeatedly tried to enlist but was turned down. He gave tirelessly of himself, entertaining troops in USO shows stateside and in Europe. Even Bette Davis acknowledged that he was the driving force behind the Canteen.
So it is inconceivable to me that someone who gave so much of himself to the war effort could have been blacklisted as a communist sympathizer. His career and his life were ruined, and he died suddenly in May, 1952.
As the great playwright, Clifford Odets, wrote in his letter to The New York Times the Sunday after Garfield died, "Despite any and all gossip to the contrary, I, who was in a position to know, state without equivocation that of all his possessions Garfield was proudest of his American heritage, even rudely so."
Anyway, enough of this heavy stuff. If you get a chance to see Hollywood Canteen, don't miss it. It's great entertainment.
If you want suspense, drama, excitement - find another movie. This is pure
entertainment with a huge cast of top name stars. The story is a poor
excuse to parade the big names, but who cares about plot when you have this
historical document demonstrating how "old fashion decent folks" used to
behave. The canteen was real, the stars banded together to do their part
for the war effort. As a retired military officer I remember the good days
when the military was respected and treated just as good as it was shown in
I could never imagine todays self centered stars banding together to do something similar to the Hollywood canteen. Hurray for Hollywood - the real entertainment folks with true talent.
Be ready to sit back and be gloriously entertained for 2 hours. The Hollywood Canteen was a real place that was the idea of John Garfield who enlisted the help of Bette Davis and they took it from there. Bette got Jules Stein (head of Warner Brothers) involved and it really took off from there. Then they made the movie, the bulk of the proceeds went to the Hollywood Canteen. The stars just keep on coming and they all put on a show. Here is your chance to see them virtually in their prime or heading into their prime. Nothing boring here. Then there is the love story between Joan Leslie and Robert Hutton (there was a tremendous chemistry between them on the screen). Sure it would never happen in real life but it certainly would be every soldier's fantasy that it could happen. And that would keep a lot of spirits up in cold fox holes. I can see why it was such a success when it came out. The Hollywood Canteen closed after V-J day. It had $500,000 left in bank account. That was used to set up a foundation to fund projects for the armed services and it is still going today!
Hollywoodcanteen was made in 1944 as World War II was hitting it's
peak. This star-studded film, captures a time now long gone-the glamor
which was Hollywood.
Robert Hutton plays Corporal Slim Green. A purple-heart winner on a one week leave in Hollywood, California. After catching the local sights, he goes to the Hollywoodcanteen for servicemen in the hopes of meeting his dream girl, Joan Leslie. The innocence of this romance is a real trip down memory lane; when a kiss, a gentle touch, and a starry-eyed stare meant everything.
Dane Clark as Hutton's sidekick from New York, Sgt. Nolan, steals the show. Clark is at his finest, as the wounded buddy trying his best to find a girl of his own. He finally does in the stunningly beautiful Janis Paige. As Angela, Paige is witty, sexy, and sets the screen ablaze.
The farewell ending at the train station (re-acted in the 1979 Richard Gere film, YANKS), is one of the most moving and romantic in screen history.
An enjoyable, upbeat, romantic, and entertaining movie.
"Hollywood Canteen" is the story of the actual organization that fed
and entertained soldiers during World War II, started by Bette Davis
and John Garfield, both of whom appear in the film. Actual female movie
stars served as hostesses and danced with the lonely soldiers. In this
story, Slim (Robert Hutton) meets his fantasy woman, Joan Leslie, at
the Canteen, and when he later becomes the one millionth man to enter
the Canteen, he's allowed to choose her as his date for the weekend.
Dane Clark plays his buddy.
If you were at Warner Brothers in the '40s, you were in this movie, with very few exceptions. There was some wonderful musical performing as well, tops in my book being Carmen Cavallaro and Jack Benny's duet on the violin with Joseph Szigeti. You can also hear the Andrews Sisters, Roy Rogers and Trigger, Eddie Cantor, Benny Goodman and many others.
All of the women looked stunning, including Davis, Alexis Smith, Eleanor Parker, Jane Wyman, Joan Leslie, Barbara Stanwyck, Ida Lupino, Joan Crawford, and an unbelievably young and gorgeous Janis Paige. There were also appearances by Dennis Morgan, Jack Carson, Sidney Greenstreet, Helmet Dantine, Paul Henried, and Peter Lorre.
It was all very interesting but some of the numbers went on a bite long. However, if you're of that era, it will bring back some tremendous memories. Hutton (Barbara Hutton's cousin) was an interesting actor, likable and very reminiscent of Jimmy Stewart. He continued to work in Hollywood for another 30 years but never achieved stardom. Most fascinating to me was seeing and hearing Kitty Carlisle as she performed "Once to Every Heart," realizing that this film was made 62 years ago - and Kitty just performed her nightclub act, at 95, in New York City. God bless her.
By the way, female servicewomen were not allowed in the Hollywood Canteen. I can't remember who it was, but eventually someone started tea dances for the women soldiers to give them someplace to go on leave. For shame.
I've got a weak spot when it comes to these all star extravaganzas
which can never be again. With the old Hollywood studio system gone
there's no place where all this talent can gather under one roof for
the same picture. Put a film like this today it would have the budget
of a second world country.
The plots of these things are invariably silly, in this one it's GI Robert Hutton becoming the one millionth serviceman to enter the Hollywood Canteen and he gets an all expense weekend there with the girl of his dreams, Warner Brothers star Joan Leslie. That was part of the mythology of the day, if the film were done at Columbia Rita Hayworth might have been the object of Hutton's desires. That one I can believe a little more.
The Hollywood Canteen in real life was the inspiration and personal project of Bette Davis and John Garfield and they preside over the film and it's many guest stars, mostly from the Warner Brothers lot.
One exception to the rule was Roy Rogers who came over from Republic Pictures and brought the Sons of the Pioneers with him. I wonder what Herbert J. Yates got out of Jack Warner for Rogers's services? Anyway Roy gets to introduce the Cole Porter classic Don't Fence Me In in this film.
Later on the Andrews Sisters sing it and they had a big hit record with Don't Fence Me In with Decca though they sang it with a well known crooner from that other studio Paramount for Decca Records.
Joan Crawford made her first appearance at Warner Brothers in this film after leaving MGM. She dances with GI Dane Clark who after seeing combat in the Pacific faints at the realization he's dancing with JOAN CRAWFORD. Those were the days.
Still I love these films so.
Simple story that would inspire any soldier or soldier to be. Serve
your country and you could be rewarded with being supported and
entertained by top Movie Stars!
Two soldiers on leave wander thru Hollywood and Vine area and there they find the Hollywood Canteen, a USO for all branches of the service. Many famous actresses and actors volunteer to entertain and/or dance with lonely servicemen, chat with the homesick men, and serve the young soldiers food and drink.
Our story follows one of the soldiers that has a crush on actress Joan Leslie and his dream of meeting the beautiful actress. Suddenly he gets a real "Hollywood" welcome by becoming the 1 millionth man to enter the USO canteen. His prize, a date with the Hollywood Actress of his choice.
Fun to see Bette Davis, Joan Leslie, Joan Crawford, Jane Wyman, and many more famous women in their dewy youth. Great to see handsome John Garfield, Alan Hale, Jack Carson,+ more in their younger years.
Great entertainment by Roy Rogers, Dorsey Band, Andrew Sisters and Eddie Cantor.
The film is an excellent period piece... one of those Hollywood wartime spectaculars that sort of carries out that sense of wartime thrift -- use just enough plot to glue the songs lightly together, and make sure you wave the flag enough to produce some enthusiasm for the "Buy War Bonds" trailer. The plot's thin, the music's good, the dancing OK, and it's actually pretty cool to see stars being "themselves." Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet are hilarious in a two-minute gag that evokes "The Maltese Falcon."
This movie in and of itself is only a curio piece, During the war (WWII), there was a Hollywood Canteen staffed by celebrities for military personnel and this film grew out of that effort. What is worth watching are the musical numbers, particularly one fairly early in the movie, called, "The General Jumped at Dawn" by a group called, "The Golden Gate Quartet". They're excellent and this is the only place I've ever seen or heard of them. I don't know what happened to them. but for me, they are the highlight of the movie! Not a great movie, but worth your time nonetheless.
A slim story, a grab-bag of musical interludes (some good, some bad),
"Hollywood Canteen" is a long, uneven tribute to the great Hollywood Canteen
begun by stars like Bette Davis and John Garfield.
But, oh that corn! The story features a star-struck soldier (Robert Hutton) with a yen to meet Joan Leslie. The storyline spins around their meeting, their romance, misunderstandings and--well, the usual Hollywood bittersweet ending as he goes off to war.
Along the way there are some nice bits by the Warner contract players, the best of which are Jack Benny (and violin), Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Paul Henried and Barbara Stanwyck. Good music by Carmen Cavallaro and His Orchestra, Sons of the Pioneers and The Andrews Sisters. Fun to see Roy Rogers and Trigger as he does "Don't Fence Me In".
But the script is a sappy thing, a hodge-podge of well-worn cliches that defeats Dane Clark (as a rather brash, obnoxious kind of soldier) and everyone else--mushy and sentimental and corny to the nth degree. A nice surprise is Bette Davis--she looks wonderful and gives a charming and natural performance as herself.
Ann Sheridan refused to play the role of the movie star and was replaced by Joan Leslie. She said it was unrealistic to depict the romance between a movie star and a starry-eyed soldier as ever happening at the canteen. I guess she knew what she was doing.
If you enjoy star-filled musicals, take a peek instead at "Thank Your Lucky Stars", a much more entertaining piece of silliness with an all-star cast.
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