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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S. Sylvan Simon
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An American World War I soldier, whose disfigured face is reconstructed by Austrian plastic surgeons, returns home after twenty years, but no one recognizes him, his widow is married to another man, and his son is a grown young man.
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
Orson Welles's then wife Rita Hayworth was scheduled to appear with him in the magic show sequence, but her iron-clad contract at Columbia Pictures prohibited her from being loaned out to a rival studio. Marlene Dietrich, then taking a brief break from entertaining the troops overseas, stepped in. 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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