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This Is the Army

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This Is the Army
Original film poster
Directed byMichael Curtiz
Dialogue directors:
Hugh Cummings
Edward A. Blatt[1]
Screenplay byCasey Robinson
Claude Binyon
Based onThe 1942 Broadway play by James McColl and Irving Berlin[2]
Produced byJack L. Warner
Hal B. Wallis
StarringGeorge Murphy
Joan Leslie
Ronald Reagan
George Tobias
Alan Hale
CinematographyBert Glennon
Sol Polito
Edited byGeorge Amy
Music byIrving Berlin
(music and lyrics)
Ray Heindorf (score)[1]
Color processTechnicolor
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • August 14, 1943 (1943-08-14)
Running time
113 or 120 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Box office$10,445,000[3][4]

This Is the Army is a 1943 American wartime musical comedy film produced by Jack L. Warner and Hal B. Wallis and directed by Michael Curtiz,[5] adapted from a wartime stage musical with the same name, designed to boost morale in the U.S. during World War II, directed by Ezra Stone. The screenplay by Casey Robinson and Claude Binyon was based on the 1942 Broadway musical written by James McColl and Irving Berlin, with music and lyrics by Berlin. Berlin composed the film's 19 songs, and sang one of them.

The movie stars George Murphy, Joan Leslie, George Tobias, Ronald Reagan and Alan Hale, and features a large ensemble cast including Charles Butterworth, Dolores Costello, Una Merkel, Stanley Ridges, Rosemary de Camp, Ruth Donnelly, Dorothy Peterson, Frances Langford, Gertrude Niesen, Kate Smith, and Joe Louis. The cast of both the film, and the stage play on which it was based, included soldiers of the U.S. Army who were actors and performers in civilian life, including Reagan and Louis.


Full movie

In World War I, song-and-dance man Jerry Jones is drafted into the US Army, where he stages a revue called Yip Yip Yaphank. It is a rousing success, but one night during the show orders are received to leave immediately for France: instead of the finale, the troops march up the aisles through the audience, out the theater's main entrance and into a convoy of waiting trucks. Among the teary, last-minute goodbyes Jones kisses his newlywed bride Ethel farewell.

In the trenches of France, several of the soldiers in the production are killed or wounded by shrapnel from a German artillery barrage. Jones is wounded in the leg and must walk with a cane, ending his career as a dancer. Nevertheless, he is resolved to find something useful to do, especially now that he is the father of a son. Sgt. McGee and Pvt. Eddie Dibble, the troop bugler, also survive.

Twenty-five years later World War II is raging in Europe. Jerry's son Johnny enlists in the Army shortly after Pearl Harbor. He tells his sweetheart Eileen Dibble that they cannot marry until he returns, since he doesn't want to make her a widow.

Johnny reluctantly accepts an order to stage another musical, following in his father's footsteps. The show goes on tour throughout the United States and eventually plays Washington, D.C., in front of President Roosevelt. During the show it is announced that this is the last performance: the soldiers in the production have been ordered back to their combat units.

Eileen, who has joined the Red Cross auxiliary, appears backstage. During a break in the show she brings a minister and persuades Johnny that they should marry now – which they do, in the alley behind the theater, with their fathers acting as witnesses.


This Is the Army
Film soundtrack album (1970s bootleg issue)
MusicIrving Berlin
LyricsIrving Berlin and Carmen Miranda
BasisIrving Berlin's play Yip! Yip! Yaphank
Productions1942 Broadway
1943–1945 traveling show


Some location shooting for the film took place at Camp Cooke in central California. The Warner Ranch in Calabasas, California was used for the World War I battle scenes.[1]

The title of the movie is the same as the title of the stage version of the show. The movie features star appearances by Irving Berlin, Kate Smith, Frances Langford and Joe Louis as themselves. Smith's full-length rendition of Berlin's "God Bless America" is arguably the most famous cinematic rendition of the piece. Louis appears in a revue piece called "What the Well-Dressed Man in Harlem Will Wear", with James Cross (lead singer and dancer), William Wycoff (dancer in drag), Marion Brown (heavyset dancer), and a chorus of perhaps a dozen,[6] the only spoken/sung scene that includes African-Americans. Louis appears in two other scenes, one in a boxing match, and the second being the stage door canteen number. He did not speak in either scene.

George Murphy was not the first actor considered for the role of Jerry. Fred Astaire, Joseph Cotten and Walter Huston were all considered first. George Brent was also offered the role of Major (then Colonel) Davidson, which was played in the film by Stanley Ridges, but Brent refused to work without being paid. Ginger Rogers was considered for the role of Eileen, played in the film by Joan Leslie. Frances Langford sings the song "What Does He Look Like?", but it was originally offered to Dinah Shore, who turned it down because she felt the lyrics made it more appropriate for a man to sing it.[1]

One of the film's highlights is Irving Berlin himself singing his song "Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning", a scene borrowed from Yip! Yip! Yaphank!.

The celebrity impersonation "hamburger" sequence includes accurate spoofs of Broadway stars Jane Cowl, Lynn Fontanne, Alfred Lunt and Ethel Barrymore, and film stars Charles Boyer and Herbert Marshall. The revue pieces also include acrobat routines, several comedy pieces, including one with Hale in drag, a magic skit, a minstrel show sketch (often removed from consumer videos and television broadcasts),[citation needed] and tributes to the Navy and the Air Corps.

Although the core of the movie consists of the musical numbers, the movie contains a veneer of a plot involving the wartime love interests of both the father and the son.

Producers Jack Warner and Hal Wallis, director Michael Curtiz and screenwriter Casey Robinson all donated their salaries to the Army Emergency Relief Fund.[1]

Many of the soldiers who had participated in the show held reunions every five years after the end of World War II. Their tenth and final reunion (1992) was held in New York's Theater District. Five hundred men were used in the final number "This Will Be the Last Time".[1]

Release and reception[edit]

The premiere of This is the Army, at the Warner Theatre in Washington D.C.

The film's New York premiere was at the Hollywood Theatre on Broadway on July 28, 1943.[7] It premiered at the Warner's Earle Theater in Washington, D.C. on August 12, 1943.

Box office[edit]

The film grossed $9,555,586 (equal to $168,251,818 today), which was donated to Army Emergency Relief.[8][9] It produced rental revenue of $8,301,000 in the United States and Canada, and $2,144,000 overseas, for a total of $10,445,000.[3][4] It was the highest-grossing musical film of all-time until it was surpassed by White Christmas in 1954.[10] The receipts from This Is the Army place it among the top 40 movies of all time in U.S. box office popularity, which considers both inflation and the size of the population when the movie was released.[11]

By the mid-1970s, the movie fell into the public domain, occasionally airing on television to a new generation of viewers. Renewed interest in some of the actors helped some actors that might have been considered down-and-out, most notably Stump and Stumpy's Jimmy Cross and Harold Cromer.

Awards and honors[edit]

The film received several Academy Award nominations, including Ray Heindorf for his musical score, Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration in a Color Film, and Bes/t Sound Recording. Heindorf was the only winner for the film.[1]

Musical numbers (film)[edit]

"This Is The Army, Mr. Jones"
  • "It's Your Country and My Country"
  • "My Sweetie"
  • "Poor Little Me"
  • "We're On Our Way to France"
  • "Goodbye, France"
  • "God Bless America"
  • "What Does He Look Like"
  • "This Is The Army, Mr. Jones"
  • "I'm Getting Tired So I Can Sleep"
  • "Mandy"
  • "Ladies of the Chorus"
  • "That's What the Well Dressed Man in Harlem Will Wear"
  • "How About a Cheer for the Navy"
  • "I Left My Heart at the Stage Door Canteen"
  • "With My Head in the Clouds/American Eagles"
  • "Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning"
  • "This Time"

"My British Buddy", also sung by Irving Berlin, was cut from the film, but was released on DVD. It was originally added to the British production of the stage musical.

Ronald Reagan and Joan Leslie (clip)

Award and honors[edit]

The musical score was nominated for and won the Oscar for Music (Scoring of a Musical Picture) (Ray Heindorf) at the 16th Annual Academy Awards.[12] The film was also nominated in the category Best Sound (Nathan Levinson), but lost to This Land Is Mine.[12]


Lux Radio Theatre presented a broadcast of the show on February 22, 1943, featuring 200 soldiers and a chorus of professional singers.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j This Is the Army at the AFI Catalog of Feature Films
  2. ^ "This Is The Army" Internet Broadway Database
  3. ^ a b c Glancy, H. Mark (1995). "Warner Bros Film Grosses, 1921-51: the William Schaefer ledger". Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television. 15 (1): 55–73. doi:10.1080/01439689500260031.
  4. ^ a b c Glancy, H. Mark (1995). "Appendix 1". Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television. 15 (S1): 1–31. doi:10.1080/01439689508604551.
  5. ^ "This Is the Army". Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on 2021-10-06. Retrieved April 1, 2016.
  6. ^ "Cast and Credits of This Is the Army". listal.com. Archived from the original on 2021-10-06. Retrieved 2011-07-03.
  7. ^ "Watson Heads Army Com". The Exhibitor. 14 July 1943. p. 20.
  8. ^ "Facial Hair Friday: A Musical Interlude". Pieces of History, A blog of the U.S. National Archives. 12 August 2011. Retrieved 2022-06-25.
  9. ^ Bergreen, Laurence (Summer 1996). "Irving Berlin: This Is the Army". Prologue Magazine of the National Archives. Vol. 28, no. 2. p. 3. Retrieved 2022-06-25.
  10. ^ Arneel, Gene (January 5, 1955). "'54 Dream Pic: 'White Xmas'". Variety. p. 5. Retrieved June 28, 2019 – via Archive.org.
  11. ^ "Top 100 Movies 1927-2021 by Box Office Popularity". Best Movies Of. Retrieved 2022-06-25.
  12. ^ a b "The 16th Academy Awards (1944) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Archived from the original on 2021-10-06. Retrieved 2011-08-14.

External links[edit]