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Stage Door Canteen

USA 1943
produced by
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

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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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 storytelling.

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.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD