Snobby TV star (Clifton Webb) worries that he is out of touch with the younger generation and that's why his TV show is failing. He becomes a Boy Scout leader in an effort to "get in touch.... See full summary »
Sergeant Dixie Smith has more raw recruits to turn into Marines, if he can. Among them is cocky casanova Chris Winters, son of an officer, who's just tried to "mash" Mary Carter, a major's ... See full summary »
In early 1900s' Pennsylvania, Mr. Pennypacker has two company offices and two families with a combined total of 17 children. With an office in Harrisburg and an office in Philadelphia, he ... See full summary »
Tacey and Harry King are a suburban couple with three sons and a serious need of a babysitter. Tacey puts an ad in the paper for a live-in babysitter, and the ad is answered by Lynn ... See full summary »
A priest (William Holden) arrives at a mission-post in China accompanied by a young native girl who has joined him along the way. His job is to relieve the existing priest (Clifton Webb), ... See full summary »
Thornton Sayre, a respected college professor, is plagued when his old movies are shown on TV and sets out with his daughter to stop it. However, his former co-star is the hostess of the TV show playing his films and she has other plans.
An urbane, sharp-tongued expert on how to stay young interrupts a lecturing tour to prove his theory at a dilapidated old people's home. To the despair of his agent and the alarm of the ... See full summary »
Clifton Webb recreates his Sitting Pretty role as Mr. Lynn Belvedere, the World's Greatest Genius. Belvedere discovers that he is ineligible for an honorary award because he never attended ... See full summary »
Industrial designer Howard Osborne (Clifton Webb) wants his daughter Jacqueline (Anne Francis), shortened to Jake by her efficient-minded father, to follow in his footsteps and study abroad... See full summary »
In the 1890s, Sgt. Major John Philip Sousa, leader of the Marine Corps Band, meets Private Willie Little, inventor of an instrument he calls the Sousaphone...and Little's girlfriend, shapely showgirl Lily. To support his growing family, Sousa leaves the Marines and forms his own band; Willie and Lily go along. Though he'd rather write ballads, Sousa's marches bring him increasing fame; from their debut in 1892 the band is a great success. But Sousa's 'no wives' rule threatens the romance of Willie and Lily...as does the Spanish-American War. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Sousa was superstitious and refused to wear a pair of gloves more than once considering it to be bad luck. In the beginning of the film he orders 110 dozen pairs of pigskin gloves (1320 pairs) at five dollars a pair. That comes to $6,600 at a time when a new car cost about $700 and you could buy a house for around $4000. See more »
During the opening display of 20th Century Fox's logo, Sousa's "Semper Fidelis" was played instead of the usual 20th Century fanfare See more »
A Perfect Hollywood Biopic (with a Bit of Fantasy)
John Philip Sousa was not only America's "March King," he was a skilled organizer and entertainer who also composed much music now thoroughly unknown to most Americans (and fans elsewhere). His life spanned the era of an optimistic, brash America where live music was the only music to the burgeoning and eventually triumphant victory of an insatiable technology that even in Sousa's lifetime was employed to record almost everything. Sousa benefited from the new world of recording and he can be heard on compact disc in his later years conducting his famed quasi-military band.
20th Century Fox enlisted a cadre of fine performers for a seamlessly entertaining biopic of John Philip Sousa with a nice, anachronistically innocent, fictional romance interwoven with the band leader/composer's story.
As Sousa Clifton Webb brings to life a character who was, as in reality, ambitious and driven to succeed. Sousa left the Marine Corps, where he led The President's Own, to start his hand-picked band. In uniforms which the leader designed, the outfit mirrored great military bands (of which the U.S., as opposed to England, had a clear shortage during Sousa's life). Sousa understood the importance of touring and he was light years ahead of the twentieth century's pops ensembles in making his musicians - and his music - as ubiquitous as travel of his day allowed.
Sousa's patient and adoring wife, Jennie, is well played by Ruth Hussey.
A nice romantic plot is the courtship of aspiring singer Lily Becker and the alleged inventor of the sousaphone, Willie Little. Lily is the gorgeous Debra Paget and Willie the young and upcoming Robert Wagner. Neither character existed in real life but their romance is well threaded into Sousa's story and is coyly affecting.
1952 was a hard year for many Americans. A self-designated lame duck president presided over an unpopular war, the first in our history in which victory in the traditional military sense wasn't a strategic or political objective. "The Stars and Stripes Forever" was a refreshing patriotic film that didn't require thinking about the realities of the day. I remember seeing it as a kid and loving every minute. I still watch it occasionally.
Credit also goes to the producer and to director Henry Koster for including a scene at an Atlanta festival where a black chorus sings The Battle Hymn of the Republic under Sousa's baton right after a rousing version of Dixie was performed. This was two years before Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court's belated start of the final assault on the obscenity of legalized racial discrimination. I doubt everyone in the South felt good about that scene.
Musical pieces are well interwoven with the story and the final minutes have Sousa's most famous march, also the movie's title, played with a segue from his band to contemporary marching marines and soldiers. His superimposed spectral leading is a fine reminder of his role. A very nice touch.
Folks who only know Sousa from a relative handful of oft-performed and wonderful marches should check out his less well-known music. NAXOS is currently releasing a series of CDs of works that reflect Sousa's extraordinary creativity. But above all, Americans owe him an everlasting debt for composing stirring music that still animates listeners as it did when first performed under his baton.
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