Monday, August 11, 2008

The Gang's All Here (1943) Film Review

Plot Summary - Fun and brightly colored WWII Technicolor musical extravaganza, directed by Busby Berkeley and starring Alice Faye as a showgirl who works at "The Club New Yorker" and also dances several nights a week with the servicemen at the nearby (she can get there between performances) Broadway Canteen. A good-looking young sergeant sees her at the nightclub, then follows her to the Canteen where he makes his moves until she agrees to go out with him later that night - after a goodnight kiss, she falls for him. Off he goes to fight in the Pacific where he comes back a hero and his well-to-do dad (Eugene Pallette) invites all the performers from the Club New Yorker to stay at his estate and perform at a big welcome-home party where they sell war bonds for admission. But really - the plot in this is pretty much the side stuff in which to pull together a bevy of musical numbers - as the trailer for this film says with "8 Great Hit Parade Songs".

Review - This film is light-hearted and fun to watch, mainly for the many musical performances which feature vocal numbers by Alice Faye, including several renditions of "A Journey to a Star", the great Benny Goodman and his Orchestra performing numbers like "Minnie's in the Money" while several young couples jitterbug, more dance numbers and Busby Berkeley showstoppers starring the "Brazilian Bombshell" Carmen Miranda who sings and dances her way through several numbers while wearing a variety of bare midriff dresses with pom poms and sequins, arms halfway covered in bangles, very high gold platform shoes, and her famous big and wild hats, plus a big finale - which is all about the "polka dot", Busby Berkeley style. The Club New Yorker looks like such a fun place to go! This film includes the famous number "The Lady in the Tutti Frutti Hat" where bathing beauties make Busby Berkeley style formations with giant bananas and strawberries and Carmen Miranda appears with this huge backdrop of bananas that looks like a gigantic banana hat on her head - pretty neat stuff!

- - - Miranda is a scene-stealer as she plays the character Dorita, who has many amusing lines based around her very thick Brazilian accent. Eugene Pallette and Edward Everett Horton steal some scenes themselves as two Wall Street businessmen who at the beginning of the film are seen in the Club New Yorker but Horton is "strictly business" and never seen in places like that - Pallette says "Don't be a square from Delaware - get hep to yourself" as he "heard on a jukebox" - ah, I love that 40s slang (Horton ends up dancing with Miranda and gets his picture in the paper!). I love Alice Faye - she's so glamorous and lovely, I love the deep tones of her singing voice. A noticeable goof in this film - Alice Faye calls her sergeant friend "Andy" several times in the scene where she is saying goodbye to him in the train station - but at that point of the film she thinks his name is "Casey" (and that's a whole subplot involving his childhood sweetheart who unknowingly "shares" the same boyfriend as Faye's character). The DVD of this, a Netflix rental (the first one they sent me arrived cracked, had to send for a replacement - I hate when that happens), has a really nice looking print - the Technicolor absolutely pops, wow! Good fun, 40s style. Rating - 8 stars

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