Stage Door Canteen
Sol Lesser for United Artists
directed by Frank Borzage
starring Cheryl Walker, William Terry, Marjorie Riordan, Lon McCallister, Margaret Early, Sunset Carson (as Michael Harrison), Fred Brady, Kenny Baker, Tallulah Bankhead, Ralph Bellamy, Ray Bolger, Gracie Fields, Lynn Fontanne, Helen Hayes, Katharine Hepburn, Hugh Herbert, Jean Hersholt, Gypsy Rose Lee, Harpo Marx, Elsa Maxwell, Yehudi Menuhin, Paul Muni, Merle Oberon, George Raft, Johnny Weissmuller, Alan Mowbray, Elliott Nugent, Marion Shockley, Count Basie & Orchestra, Bennie Goodman & Orchestra, Xavier Cugat & Orchestra, Guy Lombardo & Orchestra, Freddy Martin & Orchestra, Kay Kyser & Band, Peggy Lee
written by Delmer Daves
American World War II Propaganda
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World War II, an American platoon is arriving in New York to be shipped off to
Europe, but the boys get a 24-hour leave to have a night on the town. 3 of
them, Dakota (William Terry), California (Lon McCallister) & texas (Sunset
Carson) visit the Stage Door Canteen, where famous stars of the theatre &
the movies offer their services as both performers & waiters to support the
soldiers in their war efforts, & many a young actress have taken on a job
their as hostesses to entertain the boys n their last night on American soil.
& between acts our soldiers find nice young girls they fall for, Texas
finds Southern girl Ella Sue (Margaret Early], shy California finds Jean
(Marjorie Riordan), the first girl he kisses, & Dakota finds Eileen (Cheryl
Walker), but initially, Eileen is less than impressed by him ... & when the
soldiers is prolonged & Dakota meets Eileen again at the canteen,they even
get into an argument & he leaves early.
Again the next day (for some reason their leave got prolonged yet again),
our trio hits the Stage Door Canteen a third time, but this time Eileen is not
even here, since she celebrates with Paul Muni (as himself), with whom she will
appear. However, Eileen couldn't forget the sad but honest soldier, & in
the end she turns up at the canteen & confesses her love for him ... &
they even meet after closing hour (a big no-no in the canteen's rulebook) &
spend a romantic night on her appartment building's roof, before she proposes
to him ... & he says yes. However, before they can marry, he is shipped off
to Europe at last along with his platoon, & eileen is devastated ... until
she realizes that he is going to war for her, her country, her freedom ...
A very blunt propaganda movie, in which basically the Hollywood V.I.P.s are
showing their support for their troops with many small performances &
walk-ons, & Buy War Bonds-signs are (of course) featured
prominently. The story that ties the performances together (or interrupts them)
is nothing short of abysmal though, pretty much failing on all levels of
What makes this movie interesting (if not good though) is the sheer
bluntness of war-propaganda that today seems unintenionally funny, & some
interesting vintage performances (like a very coy but typically ironic
strip-routine by Gypsy Rose Lee). & then there's of course Johnny
Weissmuller (as himself) washing dishes.