Army recruits put on a rousing musical revue featuring the wonderful songs of Irving Berlin. A patriotic, star-studded classic as the performers who entertain the troops in the Great War return to duty for WWII. Also inclu... more »des the "General Electric Theatre" episode of "Prosper's Old Mother".« less
Irving Berlin sends Ronald Reagan off to fight World War II
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 07/04/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"On the 4th of July in 1942, "This Is the Army" opened on Broadway with book, lyrics and music by Irving Berlin, who persuaded the War Department to let him have 300 service men to do the show and thereby raise $10 million for Army Relief. The 1943 movie version, directed by Michael Curtiz for Warner Brothers, starred a pair of future California politicians, (Senator) George Murphy and (Governor) Ronald Reagan, as the father and son of Jerry and Johnny Jones (think of it as the "Predator" of its generation). Reagan had just entered the military and was assigned to making "This Is the Army" before moving on to military training films.
Scenarists Casey Robinson and Claude Binjoy came up with a story lined that worked in material from Berlin's legendary 1917 soldier show "Yip, Yip, Yiphank." Set during World War I, Murphy plays a Broadway song and dance man who is drafted and put in charge of an army show. Murphy sings and dances to "Alexander's Ragtime Band," "My Sweetie" and "We're On Our Way to France." After the final performance the cast marches off to war, where Jerry Jones receives a leg wound. Then we jump to the start of World War II, Jerry is now a Broadway producer and son Johnny is his assistant. History repeats itself, this time with Johnny enlisting and taking time to marry his sweetheart, Eileen Dibble (Joan Leslie), before marching off to the swelling strains of "This Time We Will All Make Certain."
The film offers Kate Smith singing "God Bless America" and Berlin himself singing "Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning." This show also includes "This is the Army, Mr. Jones," which is probably the only other song contemporary audiences might still recognize, if you are old enough. Certainly "This Is the Army" is dated, but if you remember the time and place it does its duty well as a patriotic film, although the difference between sending the troops out to fight that war and the one currently being waged is rather dramatic. The film won the Oscar for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture for "Ray Heindorf.""
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 11/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Held together by a flimsy plot, this is 2 hours of sheer enjoyment, with a variety of entertainment, from show-stopping tap dance numbers, comedy skits, an acrobatic number, and even magic tricks, and the film also includes of course, two actors that were to become political figures, our 40th president, Ronald Reagan, and U.S. Senator from California (1965-71) George Murphy. Reagan looks fantastic in this film where he plays stage manager Johnny Jones. His presence and stature, lean and broad-shouldered, is amazing, as is his warmth and charm. This, as well as "Kings Row", are my two favorite Reagan films that I've seen so far. Lt. Reagan only made his military pay for this film ($ 250.00 a month) while Murphy earned $ 28,000.00...and Irving Berlin, whose terrific score earned him an Oscar, donated his proceeds to the Army Emergency Relief Fund.
Expertly directed by Michel Curtiz, Irving Berlin's music is a delight (we get to hear him sing "Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning"), and the choreography by LeRoy Prinz and Robert Sidney is outstanding. The film, which has the feel of a revue, starts out with Berlin's WWI show, "Yip ! Yip ! Yaphank", and segues into the WWII section, with the next generation performing the show (Reagan plays Murphy's son). Based on the Broadway show that toured the nation and the world as a morale booster for the military, "This is the Army" is an unpretentious and jolly gem, and though some of the numbers are "politically incorrect" for this day and age, those same numbers are also the best in the show, like "Mandy", which is done in blackface, "That's What the Well-Dressed Man in Harlem Will Wear" (brilliantly danced by an man who is uncredited, and also featuring boxing champ Joe Louis), and a choice sequence, the humorous "Stage Door Canteen", with the burliest of the men in drag, and marvelous impersonations of actors, the best being "Herbert Marshall" speaking on the qualities of a hamburger.
The songs include: "For Your Country and My Country" Gertrude Nielsen & Chorus "My Sweetie", George Murphy & Chorus "Poor Little Me, I'm on KP", George Tobias & Chorus "We're on Our Way to France", George Murphy & Chorus "God Bless America", Kate Smith "What Does He Look Like", Frances Langford "This is the Army Mr. Jones", Sidney Robin, William Roerich, Henry Jones & Chorus "I'm Getting Tired so I can Sleep", James Burell & Chorus "Mandy", Ralph Magelssen & Chorus "Ladies of the Chorus", Alan Hale & Chorus "That's What the Well-Dressed Man in Harlem Will Wear" "How About a Cheer for the Navy", Chorus "Hostesses of the Stage Door Canteen", Chorus "I Left My Heart at the Stage Door Canteen", Earl Oxford "American Eagles/With My Head in the Clouds", Robert Shanley & Chorus "Oh How I Hate to get Up in the Morning", Irving Berlin, George Murphy, George Tobias, Charles Butterworth & Chorus "This Time We Will All Make Certain", Robert Shanley & Chorus.
Though far from being great, this film has qualities that deserve the highest merit; for the superb tap dancing and the energetic talent of the performers and for the unabashed patriotism Hollywood has long forgotten, this is 5 star family viewing. (DVD buyers beware...there are several editions available, with some having a "bootleg" quality, though still mighty enjoyable for the price) "
Very good musical and big name stars--but forget that flimsy
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 02/12/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This Is The Army is a star studded musical with so many song and dance numbers it's amazing they squeezed in a plot! Indeed, the plot is perhaps the flimsiest of any musical plot I've ever seen. Dancer Jerry Jones (George Murphy) stages a show to boost morale after he's recruited into World War I; and after he's injured in the war he works as a theatrical producer. Jerry's song, Johnny Jones (Ronald Reagan), follows in his father's footsteps with his own involvement in World War II helping to stage shows to raise money for the war campaign during World War II.
The only other theme in the plot is Johnny Jones's refusal to marry his girlfriend until after the war ends. Will she wait for him or leave him? Watch the movie and find out!
But the real value of this movie is yet to come. The plot is merely an excuse for a parade of musical numbers that are extremely entertaining. In addition to George Murphy dancing and Ronald Reagan acting, we get a cameo by Frances Langford as she sings "What Does He Look Like." Kate Smith sings her signature song "God Bless America" with two rarely heard opening verses; and Joe Louis shows off his boxing strength during a song and dance number. Irving Berlin himself even performs; he sings "Oh How I Hate to get Up in the Morning" with George Murphy and other very talented people onstage.
The sets are not very well made although the set for the air corps musical number from the World War II show stunned me with its props. In addition, there have been a number of comments regarding how uncomfortable some people felt seeing too many numbers with men in women's clothing. The men really only wore the clothing in three or four numbers at most; and I think at the time it was all meant in good fun. When I read what one or two reviewers wrote I half expected to see men wearing women's clothing all the way through the picture! That was not the case. There is, however, an embarrassing blackface number that reflects the insensitivity of the times toward African-Americans. Ouch!
I agree with the reviewer who writes that the quality of this print is awful. The print is scratched, poorly pasted together and at times a few seconds seem to have been either cut out of the film or simply lost. They need to restore this print fast; and the sound quality wasn't the best, either. Sigh.
Overall, This Is The Army provides a rather simple, forgettable plot as an excuse to display a marvelous assortment of excellent, strong musical numbers. I highly recommend this film for lovers of classic movie musicals; and fans of the stars in this film will enjoy this also. "
Poor Sound Unnecessary
A. Andersen | Bellows Falls, VT USA | 10/17/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Both reviews on this page mention the poor sound of the CD. I saw the film on one of the movie channels (Turner or AMC) a few years ago and was astounded by the incredible sound quality- it was marvelous, clear, warm, full-bodied. It deserved its Oscar nom in this category (also nommed for Art Direction and deserved winner for Scoring). It's hard to understand how the creators of this CD could produce a poor sound quality disc when there are original sound sources out there in prints that are quite superior. If my television sound box which is not state of the art could make this movie sound so good the wizards in the art of digitally cleaning up and restoring analog sound sources for CDs should have been able to come up with a superior product. It may be that this is a "quickie" - done without much care or concern for the public. Certainly the US Army is not to blame if their sound source originals were in bad shape with so many other sound sources of prints available, including seven VHS releases available from Amazon alone. Those looking for good audio transfer may do well by buying a copy of the VHS product and taping it themselves."
Great Songs, Bad Quality
A. Andersen | 01/01/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of Berlin's best scores, and it has more than its share of bouncy numbers and ballads. However, the sound quality on this is very disappointing, making me give the CD 4 stars instead of 5. Much of it sounds hollow and distant, and two tracks have quite noticeable bumps in them. The CD has a disclaimer that says that the movie was owned and neglected by the US Army for 25 years, which caused this unfortunate deterioration. Even so, this seems to be the only CD of this score, so it still comes highly recommended. If ever there was a score in need of a City Centers Encore presentation, this would be it!"