The Gang's All Here (1943 film)

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The Gang's All Here - Trailer (1943).jpg
Directed by Busby Berkeley
Produced by William Goetz
William LeBaron
Written by Walter Bullock
Nancy Wintner
George Root Jr.
Tom Bridges
Starring Alice Faye
Carmen Miranda
Phil Baker
Benny Goodman
Music by Leo Robin
Harry Warren
Cinematography Edward Cronjager
Edited by Ray Curtiss
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates December 24, 1943 (1943-12-24)
Running time 103 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Gang's All Here is a 1943 American Twentieth Century Fox Technicolor musical film starring Alice Faye, James Ellison, and Carmen Miranda. The film, directed and choreographed by Busby Berkeley, is considered a camp classic, and is noted for its use of musical numbers with fruit hats.[1] Included among the 10 highest-grossing films of that year, it was at that time Fox's most expensive production.[2]

Musical highlights include Carmen Miranda performing an insinuating, witty version of "You Discover You're in New York" that lampoons fads, fashions, and wartime shortages of the time. The film is also memorable for Miranda's "The Lady in the Tutti Frutti Hat", which because of its sexual innuendo (dozens of scantily clad women handling very large bananas), prevented the film from being shown in Miranda's native Portugal in its initial release.[3][4] Even in the US the censors dictated that the chorus girls must hold the bananas at the waist and not at the hip. Alice Faye sings "A Journey to a Star," "No Love, No Nothin'," and the surreal finale "The Polka-Dot Polka."

The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Color (James Basevi, Joseph C. Wright, Thomas Little).[5] It was the last musical Faye made as a Hollywood superstar. She was pregnant with her second daughter during filming.[6]

Plot[edit]

Wealthy businessman Andrew J. "A. J." Mason, Sr. takes his nervous partner, Peyton Potter, to the Club New Yorker for a celebratory evening with his son, Sgt. Andrew J. Mason, Jr., who is about to report for active duty in the Army. A. J. and Andy enjoy the show, which features master of ceremonies Phil Baker and dancer Tony De Marco, while Potter worries about what his wife Blossom would say if she knew he was there. While Potter is trapped into dancing with Brazilian sensation Dorita, Andy becomes intrigued by entertainer Eadie Allen. Phil warns Andy that because Eadie dances at the Broadway Canteen between shows, she will not go out on a date with him, but Andy follows her to the canteen and tells her that his name is Sgt. Pat Casey so that she will not be intimidated by his wealth. Despite her insistence that she cannot date servicemen outside the canteen, Eadie is charmed by Andy and agrees to meet him later when he pursues her to the nightclub. Eadie and Andy spend the evening talking and falling in love, and the next day, Eadie bids him farewell at the train station and promises to write every day. Andy distinguishes himself in battle in the South Pacific, and is granted a furlough after being awarded a medal. A. J. is thrilled and plans to throw a welcome home party for Andy at the Club New Yorker. Phil cannot accommodate his plans, however, as the club is closed for two weeks while the company rehearses a new show. Munificent as always, A. J. invites the performers to rehearse at his and Potter's homes, where they can throw a lavish garden party and war bond rally to welcome Andy. Potter is perturbed about the arrangements when he learns that Blossom knows Phil from her former days as an entertainer, and his chagrin grows when Tony's partner cannot perform and he asks Potter's daughter Vivian to dance with him. Hoping to persuade the stodgy Potter to allow Vivian to perform, Blossom tells him that Phil has threatened to reveal her wild past if Vivian is not in the show. Potter acquiesces, but his problems grow when he is pursued by the romantic-minded Dorita. When not chasing Potter, Dorita learns that Vivian has a boyfriend named Andy, and that he and Eadie's "Casey" are the same man. Complications arise as Dorita tries to keep Vivian and Eadie from discovering Andy's deception. When Andy and the real Pat Casey arrive at the club, however, Eadie learns the truth. Andy proclaims that he wants to marry her and not Vivian, but Eadie insists on breaking off their relationship, as she believes that Vivian really cares for him. During the show, however, Vivian tells Eadie that she is going to Broadway to perform as Tony's permanent partner, and reveals that she and Andy were never truly in love. As the show comes to a close, Eadie and Andy reconcile, and everyone joins in the final song.[7]

Cast[edit]

Carmen Miranda performing "The Lady in the Tutti Frutti Hat" at the Club New Yorker.

Production[edit]

The working title of this film was The Girls He Left Behind. According to a 7 Jan 1943 news item, composer Harry Warren was originally scheduled to work with lyricist Mack Gordon on the film's score, but Warren instead wrote the picture's songs with Leo Robin. A 30 Mar 1943 HR news item included "Pickin' on Your Momma" in the list of songs to be featured in the film. Modern sources note that the song, along with "Sleepy Moon" and "Drums and Dreams" were cut before the final release. According to HR news items and a studio press release, Linda Darnell was originally scheduled to play "Vivian Potter," which would have been her first dancing role in motion pictures. During dance rehearsals, however, Darnell sprained her ankle, and after her recovery, eloped with cinematographer Peverell Marley and asked Twentieth Century-Fox for an indefinite leave of absence. Darnell was replaced in the role by Sheila Ryan.

The Gang's All Here, began production in Abril, 1943. Berkeley learned that Darryl Zanuck would not be overseeing the production. Fox's studio head was in Europe on behalf of the war effort, leaving the chore to William LeBaron. LeBaron was a producer and songwriter who had worked at other studios before coming to Fox. Under Zanuck, he set up an independent unit at the studio, mostly making musicals. He and Berkeley got along well at first, but the relationship was soon strained as the showman in Berkeley wouldn't yield to the budget-trimming mandates of LeBaron (who, in turn, was forced to trim expenses due to the demands of the War Production Board, which sought cost cutting in all aspects of businesses during the war). In spite of the producer/director set-tos took place during shooting, the film turned out to be an outrageously conceived work of art, blending with subtlety the politics of alliances while overtly disarming the viewing public with surrealism and spectacle.[8]

Although Alice Faye did have a singing cameo in the 1944 film Four Jills in a Jeep, this picture marked her last appearance in a musical film until the 1962 version of State Fair. Faye, who was pregnant with her second child during filming of The Gang's All Here, retired from the screen and only made one additional film, the 1945 drama Fallen Angel until 1962. The Gang's All Here marked the screen debuts of actresses June Haver (1926--2005), Jeanne Crain (1925--2003) and Jo-Carroll Dennison, who was Miss America of 1942. According to a 1944 LAT article, the film was to include a take-off on Phil Baker's popular radio show, "Take It or Leave It." The sequence was cut, and Baker instead made an entire film based on the show, called Take It or Leave It, for Twentieth Century-Fox.

The Gang's All Here was the first color film directed by Berkeley (although he did do the choreography for the 1930 two-strip Technicolor film Whoopee ), and the extravagant production numbers were well received. While praising Berkeley's work, the MPH reviewer commented that the production numbers "are opulent in highly effective color combinations and are climaxed by a finale in the cubistic and modernistic tempo which is different from anything that has passed this reviewer's way since some of the abstract treatments employed by Walt Disney's Fantasia." Although some modern sources indicate that the film was banned in Brazil because of the giant bananas featured in "The Lady with Tutti-Frutti Hat" number, the film's file in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library contained no information about censorship in Brazil and the film was approved for export to South American countries. The picture received an Academy Award nomination in the Art Direction (Color) category.[9]

Noted drummer Louie Bellson appears uncredited in the Benny Goodman Orchestra while Carmen Miranda sings "Paducah".[10]

Soundtracks[edit]

  • "You Discover You're in New York"
    • Music by Harry Warren
    • Lyrics by Leo Robin
    • Performed by Carmen Miranda, Alice Faye, Phil Baker and chorus
  • "Minnie's in the Money"
    • Music by Harry Warren
    • Lyrics by Leo Robin
    • Arranged by Eddie Sauter
    • Sung by Benny Goodman with his band and a jitterbug chorus
  • "Soft Winds"
    • Written by Benny Goodman (instrumental)
    • Played by Benny Goodman and His Orchestra
    • Danced by Alice Faye and James Ellison
  • "The Lady in the Tutti Frutti Hat"
    • Music by Harry Warren
    • Lyrics by Leo Robin
    • Performed by Carmen Miranda and chorus
  • "A Journey to a Star"
    • Music by Harry Warren
    • Lyrics by Leo Robin
    • Sung by Alice Faye (and reprised by cast)
    • Danced by Tony De Marco and Sheila Ryan
  • "No Love, No Nothin"
    • Music by Harry Warren
    • Lyrics by Leo Robin
    • Arranged by Benny Carter
    • Sung by Alice Faye
    • Danced by Tony De Marco and Sheila Ryan
  • "Paducah"
    • Music by Harry Warren
    • Lyrics by Leo Robin
    • Played by Benny Goodman and His Orchestra
    • Sung by Benny Goodman and Carmen Miranda
    • Danced by Carmen Miranda and Tony De Marco
  • "The Polka Dot Polka"
    • Music by Harry Warren
    • Lyrics by Leo Robin
    • Sung by Alice Faye with dancers
  • "The Polka Dot Ballet"
    • Music by Harry Warren
    • Performed by Busby Berkeley dancers
  • "Silent Señorita"
    • Music by Harry Warren
    • Lyrics by Leo Robin
  • "P'ra Que Discutir"
    • Written by Nestor Amaral
  • "Diga o Ella"
    • Written by Nestor Amaral

Release[edit]

The film was released on December 24, 1943.[12] The Gang's All Here it became one of the 25 top grossing films of 1943-44.[13]

DVD release[edit]

Fox released the film on a digitally remastered DVD in February 2007 as part of "The Alice Faye Collection." This DVD was criticized for its faded color reproduction that subdued the original vibrant Technicolor hues.[14] The film was released on DVD a second time in June 2008 as part of Fox's "The Carmen Miranda Collection." The 2008 DVD release contained a brighter and more colorful transfer.[15] A laserdisc version was released in 1997 by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment but was quickly pulled and is now a highly valued collector's item. Privately made copies in all formats are circulated among collectors. The film is occasionally shown on American television

British distributors Eureka Entertainment have officially announced that they will release on Blu-ray Busby Berkeley's The Gang's All Here, starring Alice Faye, Carmen Miranda, Phil Baker, and Benny Goodman. The release will be available for purchase on September 15, 2014.[16]

Critical reception[edit]

Most of the reviews were positive with the exception of the one appearing in the New York Times, which noted a Freudian slant to Berkeley's giant bananas: "But in the main, The Gang's All Here is a series of lengthy and lavish production numbers all arranged by Busby Berkeley as of money was no object but titillation was. Mr. Berkeley has some sly notions under his busby. One or two of his dance spectacles seem to stem straight from Freud and, if interpreted, might bring a rosy blush to several cheeks in the Hays office."[17]

Philip French wrote in The Guardian: [...]The movie provides an escape from wartime anxieties and austerities into an extravagant, fantastical world, most spectacularly in what James Agee called Berkeley’s “paroxysmic production numbers” involving Miranda [...][18]

The MPH reviewer commented that the production numbers "are opulent in highly effective color combinations and are climaxed by a finale in the cubistic and modernistic tempo which is different from anything that has passed this reviewer's way since some of the abstract treatments employed by Walt Disney's Fantasia." Wanda Hale of the New York Daily News wrote: "It's colossal, it's stupendous, and one of the artiest productions ever made... It is a Technicolor dream that takes on nightmarish proportions or the aspects of a Dali drawing in motion."[19]

"(...) Whatever this film is, exactly, it is worth seeing." wrote Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune.

James Agee, said about the movie "There is one routine with giant papier-mache bananas, cutting to thighs, then feet, then rows of toes, which deserves to survive in every casebook of blatant film surreptitious for the next century,"[20]

"Busby Berkeley's most audacious film —an exploration of the possibilities of movement and color that moves into the realm of pure abstraction. The sexual symbolism is at its most blatant, what can you say about a film that features 60 girls waving gigantic bananas?" wrote critic Don Druker for the newspaper Chicago Reader.[21]

“It’s a very unusual movie, there’s nothing like it. It’s a routine 1940s musical with a corny wartime romantic plot, but it’s got these astounding, surrealistic production numbers by Busby Berkeley. People were overwhelmed seeing it in color in the ’70s.” said Eric Spilker for the New York Post.[22]

"Busby Berkeley's first in colour, reaching some sort of apotheosis in vulgarity with Carmen Miranda's 'Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat' accompanied by a parade of chorines manipulating outsize bananas." highlighted the magazine Time Out.[23]

"A weak script is somewhat relegated by the flock of tuneful musical numbers that frequently punctuate the picture." said Variety.[24]

Awards[edit]

Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Color (Nominated)[25]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "THE GANG’S ALL HERE". RICHARD BRODY. February 2, 2010. p. The New Yorker. Retrieved March 24, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Yes, nós temos bananas: histórias e receitas com biomassa de banana verde". Heloisa de Freitas Valle & Marcia. Retrieved September 11, 2014. 
  3. ^ Review at TVGuide.com
  4. ^ Censored Films and Television at University of Virginia online
  5. ^ The Gang's All Here (1943) Awards at IMDB
  6. ^ "IMDb.com: The Gang's All Here". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2008-12-16. 
  7. ^ "FULL SYNOPSIS: The Gang's All Here". p. TCM Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved March 10, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley". Jeffrey Spivak. Retrieved September 4, 2014. 
  9. ^ "American Film Institute Catalog: 'The Gang's All Here'". p. American Film Institute Catalog. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Louie Bellson biography at Jazz Connection Magazine online". p. Jazz Connection Magazine. Retrieved March 10, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Soundtrack: The Gang's All Here". p. IMDb. Retrieved March 10, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Alice Faye: A Life Beyond the Silver Screen". Jane Lenz Elder. Retrieved June 25, 2014. 
  13. ^ Fetrow, Alan G. Feature Films, 1940-1949: a United States Filmography.
  14. ^ "New York Times online - New DVDs: "The Alice Faye Collection"". DAVE KEHR. February 20, 2007. p. The New York Times. Retrieved March 10, 2014. 
  15. ^ "New York Times online - New DVD's: "The Carmen Miranda Collection"". DAVE KEHR. 17 June 2008. p. The New York Times. Retrieved March 10, 2014. 
  16. ^ "The Gang's All Here Blu-ray". Webmaster. July 8, 2014. p. blu-ray.com. Retrieved July 14, 2014. 
  17. ^ "MOVIE REVIEW: The Gang s All Here (1943) At the Roxy". December 23, 1943. p. The New York Times. Retrieved March 10, 2014. 
  18. ^ "The Gang’s All Here review – Philip French on Busby Berkeley at his most delirious". Philip French. 21 September 2014. p. The Guardian. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  19. ^ "The Gang's All Here: Generic versus Racial". p. York University Libraries. Retrieved March 24, 2014. 
  20. ^ "'The Gang's All Here': Miranda's bananas part of film's appeal". Michael Phillips. p. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 12, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Film Search: The Gang's All Here". Don Druker. p. Chicago Reader. Retrieved March 10, 2014. 
  22. ^ "CARMEN MIRANDA’S RIPE FOR FILM FORUM FUN". Lou Lumenick. August 11, 2005. p. New York Post. Retrieved March 10, 2014. 
  23. ^ "The Gang's All Here". p. Time Out. Retrieved March 10, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Review: ‘The Gang’s All Here’". December 31, 1942. p. Variety. Retrieved March 10, 2014. 
  25. ^ "The 16th Academy Awards (1944) Nominees and Winners". March 2, 1944. p. Academy Awards. Retrieved March 25, 2014. 

External links[edit]