Jimmy Connors and his girl-friend want to take part in Paul Whiteman's high-school bands contest, but they cannot afford the fare. But per chance they meet Paul Whiteman in person and are ...
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Tommy Williams desperately wants to get to Broadway, but as he is only singing in a spaghetti house for tips he is a long way off. He meets Penny Morris, herself no mean singer, and through... See full summary »
A group of vaudevillians struggling to compete with talkies hits the road hoping for a comeback. Frustrated to be left behind, all of their kids put on a show themselves to raise money for the families and to prove they've got talent, too.
Rich kid Danny Churchill (Rooney) has a taste for wine, women and song, but not for higher education. So his father ships him to an all-male college out West where there's not supposed to ... See full summary »
Hoping his son will attend his alma mater, Judge Hardy agrees to let Andy look for work in New York for the summer before committing to start college. In the big city, Andy is confronted with the harsh realities of life and love.
Judy Bellaire, played by Judy Garland, is the center of trouble at her exclusive private and very conservative school. She is expelled when she starts singing in a Jazzy style in her music ... See full summary »
Small-town Indiana girl Lily Mars dreams to be a stage actress. She begs visiting Broadway producer John Thornway for a role but he dismisses her as an amateur. She follows him to New York and worms her way into his show, and his heart.
Discovery by Flo Ziegfeld changes a girl's life but not necessarily for the better, as three beautiful women find out when they join the spectacle on Broadway: Susan, the singer who must ... See full summary »
Steve Raleight wants to produce a show on Broadway. He finds a backer, Herman Whipple and a leading lady, Sally Lee. But Caroline Whipple forces Steve to use a known star, not a newcomer. ... See full summary »
Roy Del Ruth
Jimmy Connors and his girl-friend want to take part in Paul Whiteman's high-school bands contest, but they cannot afford the fare. But per chance they meet Paul Whiteman in person and are able to convince him that their band is good enough, so he lends them the money. But then one of their friends becomes seriously ill and has to be carried to a hospital by plane, and they have to use Whiteman's money for this.Written by
Stephan Eichenberg <email@example.com>
The puppet orchestra made of fruit that comes to life playing instruments for Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland on a kitchen table, was the work of animator George Pal. He had just arrived in Hollywood from Europe via New York and this was among his first projects. Pal's work was relatively unknown by American audiences, thus he was uncredited. The idea for the sequence was that of another New York-to-Hollywood transfer: Vincente Minnelli. See more »
Jimmy Conners claims to have gone to Chicago for the World Series three years before. The World Series is always played at the home stadiums of the competing teams and the 1937 series was between the New York Yankees and the New York Giants. The 1938 World Series was indeed between the Chicago Cubs and the New York Yankees, but that would have been only two years before the film was released. See more »
Take that boy on the street. Teach him to blow a horn and he'll never blow a safe.
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Being a huge lifelong fan of Judy Garland, with a voice that you can listen to for hours and tire of, and who likes her paired with Mickey Rooney (a multi-talented performer with a tendency to overdo it), 'Strike Up the Band' was definitely something that couldn't be missed.
To me, 'Strike Up the Band' is the second best of their four "backyard" musicals. Their best being 'Girl Crazy', the best paced of the four and with the best songs and choreography, even if the story is not as good as the rest of the film. Faring weakest is 'Babes on Broadway' ('Babes in Arms' was a slightly better film regardless of its bowdlerisation of the source material), that film gets a lot right still but is too sentimental, contrived and corny in places with some out of place patriotism and a sour-taste-in-the-mouth finale. All four are worth watching though, and all four are well above average films.
'Strike Up the Band' is not perfect either, its Achilles heel being the far too corny, melodramatic and ponderous middle third (a shame because the film is actually very well paced for most of it and then drags badly in the non-musical moments of the middle third). The dialogue warms the heart and moves sometimes but the silly corniness of some of it is cringe-worthy.
Lastly while the cast are mostly splendid, there is one exception and that is the terribly annoying June Preisser (just as much as in 'Babes in Arms'), enviously athletic dancing is not enough for an obnoxious character played far too broadly to unbearable degrees.
However, even when not in Technicolor, 'Strike Up the Band' still looks lovely in crisp black and white and with elegant production design. As said, on the musical front (production values, songs, vocal performance, arrangements, choreography and dancing) 'Strike Up the Band' fares significantly better. The songs are great, not as great as the scores for 'Girl Crazy' and 'Babes in Arms' but almost. The three best songs being the plaintive "Our Love Affair", the exuberant "Drummer Boy" and the barn-storming "Do the La Conga".
Busby Berkeley's direction and how he stages the songs are not quite as imaginative, witty or dazzling as some of his other films, but it doesn't come over heavy-handedly and it has charm, tenderness and energy, particularly in the aforementioned three songs. Unlike 'Babes on Broadway', sentimentality is avoided thankfully and is replaced by a lot of entertainment and heart-warming. The story is unexceptional but is full of energy, fun, heart and charm, palling only in the non-musical moments of the middle third.
Rooney and Garland make 'Strike Up the Band' especially worth seeing, they are both on top form and their chemistry irresistible. From personal opinion, of the four Rooney-Garland "back-yard" musicals (despite 'Babes in Arms' being the one to get the Oscar nomination) this contains Rooney's best performance of the four, his role really plays to his strengths and even stretches him in showing more talents that one never knew he had (i.e. didn't know he could play the drum so well). Garland is as ever radiant and deeply touching, "Our Love Affair" being one of the most poignant renditions of any song in a film she starred in (very near the top too, and the list is long). Paul Whiteman, not the "King of Jazz" for nothing, contributes hugely to the film's appeal too.
Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable film, a must for Garland fans and a must for anybody wanting to see what the fuss is about with her and Rooney together. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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