Superb package of famous war time Americana
Douglas M | 12/30/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
""This is the Army" is the film version of the famous war time stage musical, a model of propaganda using a cast from the armed forces, the music of Irving Berlin, that tower of American music, and raising over $9 million for Army Emergency Relief. This was the highest grossing box office film of 1942.
The film lovingly creates the full stage play couched in a serviceable story about 2 generations of an American family and their efforts to entertain the masses while serving their country. George Murphy, an underrated song and dance man, stars and the film is directed by Michael Curtiz with the same skill he brought to "Yankee Doodle Dandy". The film is crammed with a wide variety of entertaining acts, possibly highlighted by Kate Smith singing "God Bless America". The print here is the full road show version with lengthy overture and exit music.
This is a Warners DVD production so there are a lot of good extras to enjoy. First of all, the print is restored although the technicolour shows "bleeding" in some spots and lacks the sparkle of the equivalent Fox Musicals of the period. Drew Casper provides a detailed fascinating commentary and has shelved his breathless, repetitive delivery for a more sober approach. It is a big improvement. Casper is joined by the film's female lead, charming Joan Leslie who has vivid memories to share.
A very good documentary is included. "Warners at War" provides excellent detail about how Warner Brothers, in typical fashion, led the studios in the war effort. Best of all, the documentary is narrated by Stephen Spielberg with a proper script. This is a vast improvement over similar documentaries which have interspersed film clips with a familiar and generally dull club of historians who often repeat themselves. Hooray!
Warrner's Night at the Movies is included with newsreel, cartoon etc. The best bit here is a short film of the United States Army Band with a particularly moving version of "Over There" playing over film clips of departing soldiers. This is powerful and emotional propaganda. The original trailer is included as well as the trailer for "Edge of Darkness", Warner's effort to provide a show of support to the Norwegian resistance.
This DVD can be purchased as part of the Warner's Homefront Collection, of which it is the highlight. Don't miss it."