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>
Clifton Webb, who had starred in musicals on Broadway, had been offered the chance to appear with Fred Astaire in the MGM musical The Band Wagon (1953)--which is now considered one of the classics of the era--but passed it up to be in this film because his role of John Philip Sousa was the lead in that film, whereas he would have only played a supporting role to Astaire in "The Band Wagon". 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 »
This picture is always a sempar fidelis-It's always faithful when viewing. It is certainly a rousing tribute to the march king-John Philip Sousa.
The film takes us from the career of Sousa is the Marine Marching band to life afterward. Interesting that he served 5 presidents during his tenure with the marines.
Robert Wagner and Debra Paget play the couple who worked with Sousa in his band and married. The film briefly relates how they thought they'd keep their marriage a secret from Sousa. Wagner made his film debut the same year as this film in the other rousing "With A Song in My Heart." He certainly got experience with crutches in both films. Paget, will forever be remembered as Lilia, the water-girl in the epic "The 10 Commandments." Ironically, her name in this film was Lily as well.
The music was excellently staged and Clifton Webb was in fine form as Sousa. Why? It always seemed that Webb, a fine actor, was always a perfectionist in his films. This film was certainly no exception.
Again, a definitely rousing tribute to a great American. Ruth Hussey, who played Webb's wife in the film, was totally subordinate here. That's how the lifestyle was in the 1890s.
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