IMDb > Stars and Stripes Forever (1952)
Stars and Stripes Forever
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Stars and Stripes Forever (1952) More at IMDbPro »

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Release Date:
22 December 1952 (USA) See more »
A film biography of the composer John Philip Sousa, from his early days in the Marine Corps Band through the Spanish-American War in 1898. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Nominated for 3 Golden Globes. See more »
User Reviews:
starchy Sousa, '50s romance See more (20 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Clifton Webb ... John Philip Sousa

Debra Paget ... Lily Becker

Robert Wagner ... Willie Little

Ruth Hussey ... Jennie Sousa

Finlay Currie ... Col. Randolph

Roy Roberts ... Maj. George Porter Houston
Thomas Browne Henry ... David Blakely (as Tom Browne Henry)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Frank Ferguson ... Mr. Wells (scenes deleted)
Jack Rice ... Mr. Jones (scenes deleted)
Aladdin ... Orchestra Conductor / Violinist at Burlesk House (uncredited)
William Alcorn ... Specialty Dancer (uncredited)
Sharon Jan Altman ... Helen Sousa (uncredited)
Jon Andrews ... Minor Role (uncredited)
John Baer ... Chorus Boy at 'El Capitan' Rehearsal (uncredited)
Barbara Bailey ... Dancer (uncredited)
Patricia Barker ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Alvin Beam ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Bobker Ben Ali ... Reporter (uncredited)
Jack Boyle ... Dancer (uncredited)
Tex Brodus ... Dancer (uncredited)
Jimmy Brooks ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Ralph Brooks ... Stage Manager at 'El Capitan' Rehearsal (uncredited)
Arthur Brunner ... Accordionist (uncredited)
Ernest Brunner ... Accordionist (uncredited)
Buddy Bryant ... Dancer (uncredited)
Libby Burke ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Aileen Carlyle ... Mme. Estelle Liebling (uncredited)
Alice Cavers ... Dancer (uncredited)

George Chakiris ... Ballroom Dancer (uncredited)

Ruth Clifford ... Brooklyn Navy Yard Nurse (uncredited)
Dorinda Clifton ... Dancer (uncredited)
John Close ... Reporter (uncredited)
William Colella ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Jack Colton ... Dancer (uncredited)
James Conaty ... Man at Dancing Masters Convention Concert (uncredited)
Heinie Conklin ... Crowd Spectator in Atlanta (uncredited)
Roy Darmour ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Drusilla Davis ... Dancer (uncredited)
Rene De Haven ... Specialty Dancer (uncredited)
Pepe J. DeChiazza ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Rudy Del Campo ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Frank Dernhammer ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Ward Ellis ... Specialty Dancer (uncredited)
Arun Evans ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Jack Fisher ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Bill Foster ... Specialty Dancer (uncredited)
Robert Foulk ... Joe - Plainclothesman (uncredited)
Doris Fulton ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Richard Garrick ... Secretary of the Navy (uncredited)
Roy Gordon ... President Benjamin Harrison (uncredited)
Fred Hansen ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Jean Harrison ... Dancer (uncredited)
Mary Jane Hill ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Marguerite E. Hogan ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Gretchen Houser ... Dancer (uncredited)
Charlotte Hunter ... Dancer (uncredited)
Thomas E. Jackson ... Sen. Kipling (uncredited)
Casse Jaeger ... Dancer (uncredited)
Si Jenks ... Boat Rental Proprietor (uncredited)
Delos Jewkes ... Prof. Bianchi (uncredited)
Reynolds Johnson ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Kenner G. Kemp ... Man in Audience (uncredited)
Colin Kenny ... Man at Dancing Masters Convention Concert (uncredited)
Walter Woolf King ... President's Aide (uncredited)
Nicolas Koster ... John Philip Sousa Jr. (uncredited)
Paul Kruger ... Theatre Patron (uncredited)
Lucille La Marr ... Dancer (uncredited)
Lisa Lang ... Minor Role (uncredited)

Norman Leavitt ... John Purvis (uncredited)
Virginia Lee ... Dancer (uncredited)
Edmond Lucitt ... Tumbler (uncredited)
Charles Lunard ... Dancer (uncredited)
Joan Maloney ... Dancer (uncredited)
Gregg Martell ... Marine Guard (uncredited)
Buddy Martin ... Dancer (uncredited)
Lenee Martin ... Priscilla Jane Sousa (uncredited)
Thomas Martin ... Dancer / Politician (uncredited)
Jack Mather ... Detective (uncredited)
Lester Matthews ... Mr. Pickering (uncredited)
Jack Mattis ... Dancer (uncredited)
Paul Maxey ... Mr. McCaull (uncredited)
Helen McAllister ... Dancer (uncredited)
Joan McKellen ... Dancer (uncredited)
Frank Miller ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Nolie Miller ... Dancer (uncredited)
Wade Miller ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Ray Montgomery ... Maine NCO - Major's Aide (uncredited)
Roger Moore ... President's Aide (uncredited)
Joan Morton ... Dancer (uncredited)
Grazia Narciso ... Mrs. Rector (uncredited)
Ted Otis ... Baton Twirler (uncredited)
Roy Palmer ... Dancer (uncredited)
Jack Pennick ... Right Guard in Opening Scene (uncredited)
Joe Ploski ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Howard Price ... Reporter (uncredited)
Maudie Prickett ... Thelma - Sousa's Maid (uncredited)
George Reeder ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Jack Regas ... Dancer (uncredited)
Pat Rice ... Minor Role (uncredited)
George Riley ... Barker (uncredited)
Buddy Robinson ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Jack Ross ... Marine Guard (uncredited)
Autumn Russell ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Susan Scott ... Dancer (uncredited)
Florence Shirley ... Brooklyn Navy Yard Nurse (uncredited)

Max Showalter ... Narrator (voice) (uncredited)
Helen Silvers ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Vida Ann Solomon ... Minor Role (uncredited)

Olan Soule ... Glove Salesman (uncredited)
Robert Street ... Dancer (uncredited)
Leo Sulky ... Spectator (uncredited)
Jimmy Thompson ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Lusita Triana ... Spanish Dancer (uncredited)
Helen Van Tuyl ... Mrs. President Harrison (uncredited)
William Vedder ... Prof. Esteban (uncredited)
Benay Venuta ... Madame Bernsdorff-Mueller (uncredited)
Ernö Verebes ... Organ Grinder (uncredited)
Romo Vincent ... Lily's Italian Music Tutor (uncredited)
Tito Vuolo ... Tony Rector (uncredited)
Max Wagner ... Irate Man in Theatre Audience (uncredited)
Bill Walker ... Train Porter (uncredited)
Maude Wallace ... Nora - Maid (uncredited)
Blue Washington ... Crowd Spectator (uncredited)
Ruth Ann Welsh ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Wilson Wood ... Vaudevillian (uncredited)

Directed by
Henry Koster 
Writing credits
John Philip Sousa (book "Marching Along")

Ernest Vajda (story)

Lamar Trotti 

Produced by
Lamar Trotti .... producer
Original Music by
Alfred Newman (uncredited)
Cinematography by
Charles G. Clarke 
Film Editing by
James B. Clark 
Art Direction by
Lyle R. Wheeler  (as Lyle Wheeler)
Joseph C. Wright 
Set Decoration by
Claude E. Carpenter 
Thomas Little 
Costume Design by
Dorothy Jeakins 
Makeup Department
Ben Nye .... makeup artist
Production Management
Gaston Glass .... unit production manager (uncredited)
R.L. Hough .... assistant production manager (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Eli Dunn .... assistant director
Erich von Stroheim Jr. .... second assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Glenn 'Skippy' Delfino .... props (uncredited)
Sound Department
Alfred Bruzlin .... sound
Roger Heman Sr. .... sound
Visual Effects by
Ray Kellogg .... special photographic effects
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Charles Le Maire .... wardrobe director
Sam Benson .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Lyman Hallowell .... assistant editor (uncredited)
Music Department
Leo Arnaud .... orchestrator
Ken Darby .... vocal director
Alfred Newman .... musical director
Al Fisher .... music researcher (uncredited)
Bernard Mayers .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Edward B. Powell .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Other crew
Nick Castle .... dance stager for "springtime in new york"
Leonard Doss .... technicolor color consultant
Al White Jr. .... choreographer
Leo Arnaud .... conducting instructor: Clifton Webb (uncredited)
Jerry Bryan .... dialogue director (uncredited)
Margel Gluck .... technical advisor (uncredited)
Marjorie Moore .... technical advisor (uncredited)
Jack Pennick .... technical advisor (uncredited)
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
90 min
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Did You Know?

According to Paul Bierley's biography of John Philip Sousa, "John Philip Sousa, American Phenomenon", several musicians who had played under Sousa attended the world premiere of the film but walked out in disgust.See more »
Factual errors: In the film the famous Sousaphone was invented by Willy Little. In actuality the first sousaphone was developed by James Welsh Pepper in 1893 at the request of John Philip Sousa.See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Worth Winning (1989)See more »
The ThundererSee more »


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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful.
starchy Sousa, '50s romance, 11 November 2007
Author: weezeralfalfa from United States

Having spent 6 years in orchestras and marching bands before graduating from high school, often playing Sousa's best known marches, I anticipated this partial biographical film. Clifton Webb does indeed come across as the real Sousa and certainly appears much younger than his 60+ years. He much reminds us of Frank Gilbreth in "Cheaper by the Dozen", another perfect role for him. The inclusion of the fabricated young couple played by Robert Wagner and Debra Paget was understandable, serving to lighten things up from time to time as contrasted to Sousa's rather starchy exterior. However, they come across as basically a '50s show biz couple interjected into an 1890s historical film. I was disappointed that more of Sousa's best known marches were not featured, nor the background of how he came to compose some of them revealed. After all, he did compose more than 100 marches, of which at least 8 should be recognized by every American as classics. In addition to "The Washington Post", "Semper Fidelis" and "The Stars and Stripes Forever" prominently featured in the film, "The Thunderer", "The Liberty Bell", "King Cotton", "El Capitan" and "The Corcoran Cadets March" should be instantly recognizable. In the film, we briefly see Sousa on a ship talking to himself about an idea for a classic march. But, we never find out that it is Christmas day, he is on a ship bound from Europe to America and is composing "The Stars and Stripes Forever" in his head. Also, it could have been brought out that his popular march "The Liberty Bell" was due to have quite a different name. However, after he saw a large backdrop of the Liberty Bell and coincidentally received a letter from his wife saying his son was marching in a parade honoring the Liberty Bell, he changed his mind. Sousa's opposition to recording his band and to radio broadcasts of his band could have been brought out(True, radio broadcasting had not been invented during the time period covered). Although he did allow many recordings of the Marine Band around 1890, he later became strongly opposed to recordings of his own band until very late in his career. In this resistance to new electronic technologies that allowed many unseen people to enjoy his music whenever they wished, he was in sympathy with Irving Berlin.

Sousa was not quite the one-dimensional genius popularly supposed. The film brings out to some extent his ambition to be a composer for the musical stage. He also composed several novels. The film could have also brought out the fact that Sousa was recognized as one of the top trap shooters in the world and initiated a national organization for trap shooters.

Sousa's name and origins were a subject for speculation. Several sources claimed that he was from various European countries and that Sousa was a stage name, the "usa" part representing "USA", his adopted country. Im fact, he was born and raised in Washington, D.C., his father being a member of the Marine Band. His ancestry is mostly Portuguese and Bavarian, Sousa being a rather common Portuguese and Spanish name. Variant spellings include d'Souza, Soza and Sosa.

One of film's highlights is the defiant appearance of his marching band in a southern city after notification that it's booking had been canceled due to popular opposition. I don't know if this incident has any factual basis, but Sousa's music and band are depicted as seen by many southerners as a purely Yankee institution. We see the faces of a group of African Americans when "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" is played, but I wonder what the reaction of the typical Caucasian southerner would have been. This inspirational Civil War favorite was in fact an unintentional collaboration between South Carolinian William Steffe, who composed the tune shortly before the Civil War, and unionist Julia Ward Howe, who provided the lyrics, one of various lyrics sung to this tune in both the North and South. Thus, it might have been interpreted as a unifying symbol.

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