Hollywood Canteen - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Hollywood Canteen Reviews

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½ August 15, 2015
Another one of Warner Bros. all-star wartime musicals tied to an implausible plotline (an army man meets and falls in love with Joan Leslie); the many songs and production numbers include the Oscar-nominated "Sweet Dreams, Sweetheart" and the Cole Porter hit "Don't Fence Me In," sung by both Roy Rogers and The Andrews Sisters.
June 4, 2013
The countless musical performances and celebrity cameos keep everything moving wonderfully, but it's the underlying tale that leaves us smiling wide.
½ June 27, 2012
Wartime song-and-dance number with ALL of the big Warner Bros. stars of the day (Notably absent but mentioned several times was Humphrey Bogart). Cute at times but otherwise trite even taking into account the time it was made
½ June 24, 2012
Howwwwww have I never seen this before? Pure WWII propaganda with zero plot, but the 40s diva factor (Davis, Crawford, Stanwyck to name but a few) alone warrants this a recommendation.
½ June 3, 2010
This has truly a once in a lifetime cast, and it is well worth seeing just for the absolutely incredible star appearances. It is very entertaining, light and breezy with countless memorable scenes. Great musical numbers, fun skits and amusing scenes throughout. Among the stars appearing: Bette Davis, John Garfield, Barbara Stanwyck, Jack Benny, Joan Crawford, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Ida Lupino, Paul Henreid, Dennis Morgan, Eleanor Parker, Roy Rogers and Jane Wyman.
½ June 3, 2010
76/100. This has truly a once in a lifetime cast, and it is well worth seeing just for the absolutely incredible star appearances. It is very entertaining, light and breezy with countless memorable scenes. Great musical numbers, fun skits and amusing scenes throughout. Among the stars appearing: Bette Davis, John Garfield, Barbara Stanwyck, Jack Benny, Joan Crawford, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Ida Lupino, Paul Henreid, Dennis Morgan, Eleanor Parker, Roy Rogers and Jane Wyman.
½ September 28, 2009
It's a bit shameless in the "Look how great we stars are!" presentation, but it's harmless fun with some good musical numbers. Roy Rogers steals the show, doing the better version of "Don't Fence Me In". I'm sure Trigger was horribly abused at some point, but man, that horse sure could dance!
June 12, 2009
The Hollywood Canteen is a place created by Hollywood stars Bette Davis and John Garfield for Servicemen during WW2. And Hollywood stars gave up their free time to "man" the club, doing everything from performing to washing dishes or waiting on tables. The film includes those two stars and many others manning the canteen. Two GI's on sick leave arrive in Hollywood with one (Robert Hutton) "in love" with Joan Leslie. He meets her there then ironically the next night, is the millionth GI through the door, winning a date with the star of his choice, Joan of course. Plenty of music, a cavalcade of stars and a reasonable story make this enjoyable.
May 5, 2009
The real Hollywood Canteen was a multi-studio affair. Even before it had opened, over 3000 people in the entertainment industry had signed up to volunteer. Obviously, not all of those people were stars, but stars were prominently featured, and probably in public places as opposed to behind the scenes. Bette Davis, who shows up a lot here, was one of the founders, a woman who worked tirelessly for the war effort to the extent of wanting servicemembers to get into the Oscars. (The Academy didn't go for it.) John Garfield, her co-founder, is here, too, but not as notably. The thing is, though, while the canteen itself was populated by the great and lesser-known and anonymous of every studio in Hollywood, the other studios wouldn't go along for the picture. The real millionth visitor to the Canteen got kissed by Betty Grable, that greatest of World War II pinups, but she's not here, because she was under contract at 20th Century Fox.

Corporal Ed "Slim" Green (Robert Hutton) has been wounded in the Pacific and sent to recover in LA. He wanders aimlessly around town until a counterman at a crap lunch counter tells him about the Hollywood Canteen, a thing he has somehow failed to learn about from all the other servicemen all over the place. Anyway, it's free to servicemen--and women!--so off he goes, ending up in a convoluted love affair with real-life actress Joan Leslie. (She was the "good girl" in [i]High Sierra[/i], and she was in that documentary we did the other day about Hollywood musicals.) A lot of it appears to be a slightly-exaggerated version of the real-life canteens, with celebrities all over the place, being friendly, serving meals, and generally performing. All kinds of great people from the Warner Bros. studio appear. Barbara Stanwyck is serving sandwiches. Eddie Cantor, fresh from washing dishes, is encouraged to come up and sing a song. On the other hand, there's that improbable love affair, which goes so far as to have Joan take Slim home to meet her family. There's even the touching farewell at the train. Silly.

For fans of older movies, this is a fun film. There's Joe E. Brown, best known for his zinger at the end of [i]Some Like It Hot[/i]. Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre intimidating a soldier threatening to dance an Andrews Sister's arm out of her socket. Roy Rogers and Trigger. Ida Lupino. Jane Wyman. Any number of others, the minor and the major. Half the studio seems to have turned out. No Bogart, even though--obviously--he was a Warner Bros. star, too. Few of the male stars put in an appearance, and not all the female ones. (There is, for example, no Olivia de Havilland, even though she volunteered there.) But Rosalind Russell was Columbia. Joan Fontaine was RKO. Ava Gardner was MGM. Rita Hayworth was Columbia. And so forth. (Though it is also true that a lot of the volunteers we think of as big stars didn't really make it until after the war.) Even the musicians were Warner Bros.

The funny thing is that what might well seem the implausible part--like, of course, Barbara Stanwyck serving sandwiches--isn't. The whole point of the thing was to improve morale, and what better for that than to hang out with Red Skelton, Bob Hope--or Gene Tierney? What's more, World War II was probably the most patriotic war the US was ever involved in. Every other war has involved great uncertainty. Woodrow Wilson got elected in World War I on the slogan "He Kept Us Out of the War." (Though, naturally, we then joined.) Eisenhower got elected by promising to go to Korea and seeing what he could do to end that. There were actually riots in New York during the Civil War over the draft, and McClellan became a serious candidate in 1864 by promising to bring a settlement with the Confederacy. But World War II? We'd been attacked, and it was clear that the people who'd done it were big fans of taking over countries. So everyone could get behind that. (Or so you'd think, anyway.) A Hollywood Canteen today would not get the same kind of star power.

The special features accompanying it are worth a look, too. There are a couple of cartoons--including one that requires that great Warners disclaimer about how they know the thing is racist (though so far as I can tell, it's pretty much only offensive if you are, yourself, Hermann Göring, which is unlikely), but to pretend the offensive bits didn't exist would be wrong--a statement, as it happens, that I agree with, and the Warners cartoons were never remotely so offensive as the Popeye ones! There's also a fascinating bit called "I Am an American," celebrating the immigrant experience in America and the contributions immigrants have made over US history. Some people need to watch it, clearly.
February 14, 2009
A cavalcade of great old school acting and screen gems
½ December 22, 2008
Typical canteen entertainment here with some standouts. Valuable mostly for those who are interested in movie stars of the time period, and there are tons here.
½ September 2, 2008
good but a little lacking in plot
July 27, 2008
Great entertainment, greater propaganda. Basically, democracy means you get to fuck Joan Leslie.
½ June 11, 2008
One of my favorite movies from the 1940's, due largely to the fact that Slim falls in love after spending time with Joan Leslie. For me, seeing his dreams come true inspires me to see that love can be disproportioned, yet still possible.
March 31, 2008
Dane Clark absolutely steals the show here as the "second lead" whose romantic escapades and pithy Brooklyn bot mots are much more interesting than the "A" love story.
jjnxn
Super Reviewer
March 9, 2008
meaningless as storytelling but a great chance to see almost every star on the warners lot in the 40's.
December 24, 2007
fun movie to watch with a great story and very entertaining with all the stars
October 2, 2007
As disproportioned as the love story may seem, this film ranks extremely high in my favorites. A much better war film than Private Buckaroo. It almost doesn't even compare. Probably because it was produced by a big name studio. The guest star list is endless. An EXCELLENT film!
August 29, 2007
A scripted film trying to show what the actual hollywood canteen was like. This film should not stand as a historical document, which I doubt it actually does anyway, but as a testament to how Hollywood wants the see itself. The movie itself however is loads of fun, it is basicly a musical with a slew of guest stars. The film also features a romance between a soldier and Joan Leslie, the soldier dreams of her in combat and finds out she is a real grounded person. It is a little corny, and obviously fabricated outside of reality but sweet none the less
August 19, 2007
One of the best World War II movies ever made.
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