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 »
(14 articles)
User Reviews:
SOUSA - The musical "spirit" of the United States! 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?

In supplemental material on the DVD they reveal that, while the story for the most part follows Sousa's autobiography, Willy Little and Lilly Becker never existed. They were added by the screen writers to add a little love interest.See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Worth Winning (1989)See more »
A Hot Time in the Old TownSee more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
15 out of 19 people found the following review useful.
SOUSA - The musical "spirit" of the United States!, 13 October 2001
Author: larrysmile1 from Illinois

Watch this movie to get a historical perspective on some of America's and the World's Best Marching Band Music by John Philip Sousa!

The film is a chronology of snippets about the life of John Philip Sousa, his wife, and two apparently fictional friends written into the movie to have a young romantic sub-plot. All other performers in this film are not interesting enough in character to comment upon. Most of the actors were not even credited in the films running credits.

Clifton Webb (real name: Webb Parmalee Hollenbeck) was 63 years old when this movie was released in 1952. While his written dialog is not all that dramatic, Mr. Webb was a long time actor, singer, dancer, silent screen performer and theater performer before making this picture. Clifton Webb doesn't really have to act in this film. He carries the part of John Philip Sousa by standing straight with a stiff back, wearing many colorful marching band uniforms, looking very snobbishly "British" with a stiff demeanor while putting on the airs of a musical task-master demanding perfection, yet with a silent softness in his heart for the two younger performers, a 22 year old Robert (John) Wagner and the vivacious, effervescent, and energetic 18 year old Debra Paget (real name: Debralee Griffin). Mr. Webb died in 1966 at the age of 77 years old.

Ruth (Carol) Hussy at age 38 years plays Sousa's wife "Jennie" Sousa. Research reveals that Sousa's wife's name was Jane van Middlesworth Bellis whom Sousa met during rehearsals for a stage play she was performing in. They married when he was 25 years old. Ms. Hussy portrays the role of a wife and homemaker who runs the Sousa household and cajoles her husband to be sympathetic to the secret romance of Willie Little and Lily Becker. She is the `binder' of the Sousa household and the `understanding' wife behind the scenes.

Internet research reveals no existence of the two characters, Little and Becker, in real life. A web site of the Dallas Wind Symphony has a listing of every band member who performed in Sousa's Band. The name of Willie Little is not listed among them. The movie explains that Willie Little is a Marine Private who joins the Corps with the desire to perform in Sousa's Band. The Little character comes to Sousa's home, unannounced, with a Sousaphone Little claims to have "invented" and had built for Sousa's march music to make the sound better than a standard tuba which is too brash a sound for a concert hall. Sousa takes a liking to Private Little and takes him into his band. However, Sousa himself gave a personal interview to the Christian Science Monitor on May 30, 1922 and claims that he, Sousa, approached the J.W. Pepper Company in Philadelphia and commissioned the Sousaphone to be made in 1893, one year after Sousa gives up his directorship of the Marine Band.

Debra Paget, best known for her part four years later as the beautiful `Lilia the Water Girl' in the epic The Ten Commandments, gives this film all the levity of young romance and a love tension which the mature Webb-Hussy parts can not produce. It is a pleasure to watch her dance and sing numbers as well as the way she gives Robert Wagner "love kicks" in the shins. At the age of 28 years Ms. Paget married for the third time and quit the motion picture business. A loss to all whom appreciates a beautiful woman!

When the battleship USS Maine is blown up in Havana Harbor on February 15, 1898 Willie Little re-enlists in the Marines and goes off to Cuba to fight in the four month Spanish-American War of 1898. He loses a leg and returns home to his "secret wife" Lily and a seat at a Sousa concert to entertain the hospital patients in Washington, D.C.

Historical data from various web sites highlight that John Philip Sousa was placed into the Marine Corps in 1867 at the age 13 years as an apprentice musician, by his father, John Antonio Sousa, who was a trombonist in the Marine Corps band, because young Sousa wanted to run away to join the circus. Eight years later, Sousa was discharged from the Marines (1875) at the age of 21 years. In the next five years Sousa builds a reputation good enough for the Marines to contact him and offer him the Directorship of the Marine Band. Sousa returns to the Corps and accepts the Directorship in 1880. Sousa is 26 years old and is now being referred to as a Sergeant Major (however his uniforms display no marine enlisted rank) until he departs the Marines at age 38 years (1892) to form his own civilian marching band because he cannot afford to support his family of wife and four children on Marine pay. Real photos of Sousa show him with a thick dark beard, which makes it believable, that the 63-year-old Webb can play the 38-year-old Sousa during the Marine years.

Watch this movie to get a good dose of the famous Sousa marches, Semper Fidelis (1888) the Official Marine Corps Hymn, Washington Post March (1889), and the Stars and Stripes Forever (1896) the Official March of the United States. You will even enjoy the band's playing of the song, Dixie as well as the inspiring gospel choir performing the Battle Hymn of the Republic when Sousa's Band marches into Atlanta after their commission to perform at a convention was canceled. If you like pretty, late-19th Century, dresses and snappy military band uniforms this is a movie to see. No one else could play John Philip Sousa but Clifton Webb. And, next Fourth of July when you see the Boston Pops Playing The Stars and Stripes Forever you will have some historical background into the world of the man who composed this enduring Spirit of America.

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