AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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This Is the Army
Alternate Title: Irving Berlin's This Is the Army
Director: Michael Curtiz (Dir)
Release Date:   14 Aug 1943
Premiere Information:   World premiere in New York: 28 Jul 1943
Production Date:   24 Feb--14 May 1943
Duration (in mins):   113 or 120
Duration (in feet):   10,334
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Cast:   George Murphy (Jerry Jones)  
    Joan Leslie (Eileen Dibble)  
    George Tobias (Maxie Twardofsky)  
    Alan Hale (Sergeant McGee)  
    Charles Butterworth (Eddie Dibble)  
    Dolores Costello (Mrs. Davidson)  
    Una Merkel (Rose Dibble)  
    Stanley Ridges (Major Davidson)  
    Rosemary DeCamp (Ethel)  
    Ruth Donnelly (Mrs. O'Brien)  
    Dorothy Peterson (Mrs. Nelson)  
    Frances Langford (Café singer)  
    Gertrude Niesen (Singer)  
    Kate Smith (Herself)  
  Men from the Armed Forces: Lt. Ronald Reagan (Johnny Jones)  
    Sgt. Joe Louis (Himself)  
    1st Sgt. Alan Anderson (Soldier)  
    M/Sgt. Ezra Stone (Soldier)  
    T/Sgt. Tom D'Andrea (Tommy)  
    S/Sgt. James Burrell (Soldier)  
    Sgt. Ross Elliott (Soldier)  
    Sgt. Alan Manson (Soldier)  
    Sgt. John Prince Mendes (Soldier)  
    Sgt. Julie Oshins (Ollie)  
    Sgt. Earl Oxford (Soldier)  
    Sgt. Robert Shanley (Ted Nelson)  
    Sgt. Philip Truex (Soldier)  
    Cpl. James MacColl (Soldier)  
    Cpl. Herbert Anderson (Danny Davidson)  
    Cpl. Ralph Magelssen (Soldier)  
    Cpl. Tileston Perry (Soldier)  
    Pfc. Joe Cook Jr. (Soldier)  
    Pfc. Larry Weeks (Soldier)  
    The Allon Trio    
    Irving Berlin (Himself)  
    Sgt. Fisher (Blake Nelson)  
    Jackie Brown (Mike Nelson)  
    Patsy Moran (Marie Twardofsky)  
    James Conlin (Doorman)  
    Ilka Gruning (Mrs. Twardofsky)  
    Doodles Weaver (Soldier in cot)  
    Murray Alper (Soldier)  
    Sgt. Gene Berg (Soldier)  
    S/Sgt. Arthur Steiner (Soldier)  
    Sgt. Belmonte Christiani (Soldier)  
    Cpl. Pinkie Mitchell (Soldier)  
    James Cross (Soldier)  
    William Wyckoff (Soldier)  
    Sgt. Fred Kelly (Soldier)  
    Pfc. Hank Henry (Mess sergeant)  
    Bill Kennedy (Commentator)  
    Irving Bacon (Waiter)  
    Leah Baird (Old timer's wife)  
    Pierre Watkin (Stranger)  
    Harry McKim (Boy)  
    Warner Anderson (Sports announcer)  
    Jack Young (F.D. Roosevelt)  
    Victor Moore (Father of soldier)  
    Ernest Truex (Father of soldier)  
    John L. Murphy (Yaphank)  
    Robert J. McDonald (Yaphank)  
    Robert Adams (Yaphank)  
    Peter O'Neill (Yaphank)  
    Jack Dillon (Yaphank)  
    Bert Spencer (Yaphank)  
    Lee Harmon (Yaphank)  
    Alexis Sousloff (Yaphank)  
    Jack Riano (Yaphank)  
    Peter L. Burns (Yaphank)  
    Allen Pomeroy (Camp Cooke soldier)  
    John Daheim (Camp Cooke soldier)  
    Gayle deCamp (Camp Cooke soldier)  
    Ross Ford (Camp Cooke soldier)  
    John James (Camp Cooke soldier)  
    Jimmy Butler (Camp Cooke soldier)  
    Frank Coghlan Jr. (Camp Cooke soldier)  
    Richard Crane (Camp Cooke soldier)  
    Arthur Space (Camp Cooke soldier)  
    Byron Shores (Camp Cooke soldier)  
    Arthur Foster (Camp Cooke soldier)  

Summary: In New York, in 1917, actor and dancer Jerry Jones is drafted, and before he leaves, he marries his partner Ethel. Encouraged by army officials, Jerry puts together a musical show to boost morale. Jerry's show, Yip Yip Yaphank , has an all-soldier cast and is very popular, but it ends when the men are sent to the front. After the soldiers sing the closing song, they march off-stage and through the auditorium to the transport that will take them to France. During the fighting, Jerry's leg is wounded, but he is well enough to celebrate with his buddies after the Armistice. His joy is complete when he learns that he is the father of a son. Unable to continue dancing because of his injury, Jerry opens up a theatrical agency, and in 1941, he is joined by his son Johnny. Johnny is in love with Eileen Dibble, the daughter of Jerry's old army buddy, Eddie. After the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Johnny enlists in the Army. Eileen wants to get married immediately, but Johnny, who has recently visited the family of a soldier killed at Pearl Harbor, believes that it would be wrong to marry in the face of an insecure future. Many of the World War I veterans, including Jerry, Eddie and Maxie Twardofsky visit the boot camp, where they find that their old instructor, Sergeant McGee, is still training soldiers. The older men decide to put on another show, This Is the Army , to raise money for the Army Relief Fund. The show is extremely popular and goes on tour, ending in Washington, D.C., where President Franklin D. Roosevelt attends. Eileen, who has joined the Red Cross, visits Johnny backstage and finally convinces him that she understands the risks of marrying a soldier, but wants to make a commitment to him before he leaves for war. On stage, the former stars of Yip Yip Yaphank do a number and are joined by Jerry, who dances with them despite his injured leg. Backstage, Eileen returns with a chaplain and marries Johnny. At the end of the show, the men march off to the front as their fathers did before them. 

Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Brand Name: A Warner Bros.--First National Picture
Distribution Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Michael Curtiz (Dir)
  Hugh Cummings (Dial dir)
  Sgt. Eddie Blatt (Dial dir)
  Frank Heath (Asst dir)
  Jack Sullivan (Asst dir)
  Fred Scheld (2d asst dir)
  John Lucas (2d asst dir)
Producer: Jack L. Warner (Prod)
  Hal B. Wallis (Prod)
Writer: Casey Robinson (Scr)
  Capt. Claude Binyon (Scr)
  Philip G. Epstein (Contr wrt)
  Julius J. Epstein (Contr wrt)
Photography: Bert Glennon (Dir of photog)
  Sol Polito (Dir of photog)
  George Nogle (2d cam)
  Benny Cohan (Asst cam)
  Fred Morgan (Stills)
  Claude Hutchinson (Gaffer)
Art Direction: John Hughes (Art dir)
  Lt. John Koenig (Art dir)
  John Beckman (Asst art dir)
Film Editor: George Amy (Film ed)
Set Decoration: George James Hopkins (Set dec)
  Herbert Plews (Props)
Costumes: Pvt. Orry-Kelly (Cost)
  Leon Robicheau (Cost)
Music: Ray Heindorf (Orch arr)
  Leo F. Forbstein (Mus dir)
Sound: C. A. Riggs (Sd)
Special Effects: James Leicester (Mont)
  Don Siegel (Mont)
Dance: LeRoy Prinz (Prod nos staged by)
  M/Sgt. Robert Sidney (Prod nos staged by)
Make Up: Perc Westmore (Makeup artist)
  Ward Hamilton (Makeup)
Production Misc: Lt. Col. Frank T. McCabe (Tech adv)
  Al Alleborn (Unit mgr)
  Owen Crompton (Grip)
  Percy D. Burt (Best boy)
  Cameron Shipp (Unit pub)
  Gloria Fayth (Scr clerk)
Stand In: Stuart Churchill (Singing double for Jimmy Burrell)
Color Personnel: Natalie Kalmus (Technicolor col consultant)
  Richard Mueller (Assoc Technicolor color dir)
Country: United States
Language: English

Songs: "Your Country and My Country," "My Sweetie," "Poor Little Me, I'm on K. P.," "We're on Our Way to France," "God Bless America," "What Does He Look Like?" "Oh How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning," "This Is the Army Mr. Jones," "I'm Getting Tired So I Can Sleep," "Mandy," "Ladies of the Chorus," "Well-Dressed Man in Harlem," "How About a Cheer for the Navy," "I Left My Heart at the Stage Door Canteen," "With My Head in the Clouds," "American Eagles" and "This Time Is the Last Time," words and music by Irving Berlin.
Composer: Irving Berlin
Source Text: Based on the play This Is the Army by Irving Berlin (New York, 4 Jul 1942).
Authors: Irving Berlin

Physical Properties: col: Technicolor
  Sd: RCA Sound System

 
Genre: Drama
  Variety
Sub-Genre: Military
 
 
Subjects (Major): Soldiers
  United States. Army
  World War II
 
Subjects (Minor): Actors and actresses
  Benefit performances
  Fathers and sons
  Romance
  Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  Veterans
  War injuries
  World War I

Note: The title card reads "Irving Berlin's This Is The Army ." Although the opening credits include a copyright statement, the film is not listed in the Catalog of Copyright Entries . The film opens with the following written statement: "We wish to thank Mr. Irving Berlin for making this motion picture possible through his two soldier shows: Yip, Yip, Yaphank --1918; This Is the Army --1943. This picture is being distributed for the benefit of the United States Army Emergency Relief Fund." A 21 May 1942 HR news item reported that Paramount was negotiating for the film rights to Irving Berlin's play. The 18 Jul 1942 issue of Pacific Coast Musician states that Warner Bros. bought the stage rights for $250,000. In the 17 Oct 1942 issue of Collier's , an article relates that the stage show raised about five million dollars for the Army Emergency Relief Fund. The stage production opened its tour in Washington, D.C. on 29 Sep 1942 and finished the tour in Los Angeles, where many members of the production joined the cast of the film. Collier's reported that even while rehearsing and performing, the company did two hours of military drills daily. An 8 Jul 1942 HR news item notes that all the actors were in some branch of the Army. Although this was not strictly true, all the uniformed men who appeared were members of the armed forces. Irving Berlin performed his song "Oh, How I Hate to Get up in the Morning" in the film.
       According to information in the Warner Bros. Collection at the USC Cinema-Television Library, Dinah Shore was asked to sing the song "What Does He Look Like?" but declined the offer, stating that in her opinion, the lyrics were more appropriate for a male singer. In the film, the song is sung by Frances Langford. Fred Astaire, Joseph Cotten and Walter Huston were all considered for the role of "Jerry," and George Brent was offered the role of "Col. Davidson," but refused to work for no salary. Ginger Rogers was considered for the role of "Eileen." HR news items add the following information about the production: Jack Warner, Hal Wallis, Michael Curtiz and Casey Robinson all donated their salaries to the Army Emergency Relief Fund. The songs "The Girl He Left Behind," "My Sweetie" and "Dressed Up to Kill" were composed especially for the film. Some scenes were shot on location at Camp Cooke in central California. The World War I battle scenes were filmed at the Warner Ranch in Calabasas, CA. Five hundred men were used in the final number "This Will Be the Last Time."
       According to the HR review, the top ticket price at the New York City premiere was $55. All of the film's profits were donated to the Army Emergency Relief Fund. The film cost $1,400,000 to produce. A 15 Dec 1954 HR news item notes that the original negative of the film was turned over permanently to This Is the Army, Inc., on behalf of the Army Emergency Relief Fund. Fred Kelly was Gene Kelly's brother. The film was named one of the FD Ten Best Pictures of 1943. According to modern sources, This Is the Army is one of the highest grossing musical films of all time. Ray Heindorf won an Academy Award for his musical score. The film was also nominated for Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration in a color film and for Best Sound Recording. Two hundred unbilled soldiers and a chorus of professional singers performed in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the story on 22 Feb 1943. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   7 Aug 1943.   
Collier's   17 Oct 1942.   
Daily Variety   28-Jul-43   
Daily Variety   29 Jul 43   pp. 3-4.
Down Beat   15 Dec 43   p. 18.
Film Daily   29 Jul 43   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   21 May 1942.   
Hollywood Reporter   29 Jul 42   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Aug 42   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Feb 43   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Feb 43   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   12 May 43   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   18 May 43   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Jun 43   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   29 Jul 43   p. 1, 3, 10
Hollywood Reporter   2 Aug 43   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Aug 43   p. 1, 13
Hollywood Reporter   15 Sep 43   p. 1, 15
Hollywood Reporter   16 Sep 43   pp. 1-2.
Hollywood Reporter   26 Oct 43   pp. 1-2.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Dec 1954.   
Motion Picture Herald   31 Jul 1943.   
Variety   4 Aug 43   p. 8.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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