During World War II, all the studios put out "all-star" vehicles which featured virtually every star on the lot--often playing themselves--in musical numbers and comedy skits, and were ...
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During World War II, all the studios put out "all-star" vehicles which featured virtually every star on the lot--often playing themselves--in musical numbers and comedy skits, and were meant as morale-boosters to both the troops overseas and the civilians at home. This was Universal Pictures' effort. It features everyone from Donald O'Connor to the Andrews Sisters to Orson Welles to W.C. Fields to George Raft to Marlene Dietrich, and dozens of other Universal players.Written by
Decca Records star Bing Crosby, who did not appear in this film, combined with The Andrews Sisters on two "Billboard"-charting songs featured in the score: "Vic'try Polka" (music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Sammy Cahn), sung in the picture at the conclusion of a greatest-hits medley by 'The Andrews Sisters, a number-five "Billboard" tune in 1943; and "Is You Is or Is You Ain't (Ma' Baby)" (music and lyrics by Louis Jordan and Billy Austin (I)), performed in the movie by Mr. Jordan singing with his orchestra, a number-two "Billboard" ditty for Crosby and the trio in 1944. On their own, the Andrews Sisters waxed for Decca and then repeated in this film a jivey song of farewell, "Shoo-Shoo" Baby" (music and lyrics by Phil Moore). Between late December 1943 and mid-April 1944, the sisters' 78 ranked as high as #3 among the "Billboard"-charting singles. Placing alongside was the Ella Mae Morse cut of "Shoo-Shoo Baby" on Capitol. In another musical from Universal, South of Dixie (1944), Ella gave out with her rendition. See more »
Vaudeville is dying, so George Raft, his dad, Charley Grapewin, and his sister Grace McDonald, move to Hollywood to try and continue to work. A closeup of George in a top hat and tails follows him as he takes his place on a grand stage. "Places," the director calls, and when signaled, George starts dancing. Just as the audience thinks he's made it in Hollywood, the camera pans out and shows him in a row of a dozen other chorus men dancing behind Vera Zorina. It's very clever, and a step up from the usual "variety show" movies produced to support our troops during WWII.
Once George falls in love with and marries Vera, WWII breaks out, and they organize a series of USO all-star entertainment, with dozens of movie, stage, and radio stars pitching in. While Marlene Dietrich jokes that she'll go anywhere with sailors, soldiers, and marines, Donald O'Connor tells audiences he'll be joining the overseas servicemen soon. Join Sophie Tucker, the Andrews Sisters, W.C. Fields, Jeanette McDonald, Delta Rhythm Boys, Orson Welles, Peggy Ryan, Dinah Shore, Louis Jordan, Ted Lewis, Walter Abel, Lon Chaney Jr. Louise Beavers, Susanna Foster, Andy Devine, Gloria Jean, Frank Jenks, Gale Sondergaard, Regis Toomey, and Randolph Scott as they perform for soldiers all over the world. One very touching part to this movie is also extremely sad: the screen shows a list of entertainers who were currently travelling and performing for the troops, separated by region. There is an Honor Roll with names of people who died in the war effort, including Leslie Howard and Carole Lombard.
The heart and soul of this movie is George Raft. He has such energy and pour his passion into entertaining the troops and making sure everyone does their part for the war effort. When it starts raining during an outdoor show, he himself steps onstage. "If you boys can take it, so can I," he says before tap dancing. Gene Kelly wasn't the first one to sing in the rain.
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