The Gang's All Here Reviews
And what about the music and dancing? Carmen Miranda in her tutti-frutti hat. Benny Goodman's swing band. Alice Faye. Busby Berkeley. If these people mean any thing to you, they are here in fine form.
In 1943, it was basically impossible to have the hero of a contemporary movie not be in uniform. You could make period pieces, or you could have the male lead be older or in some other way ineligible for service, or you could have him be in some necessary field. And if he wasn't any of those, he was in the military. Heck, even a lot of the period pieces were about other militaries in other eras. Propaganda can be an amazing thing, after all, and the important thing for the studios was to seem patriotic. It also gives a fine excuse for a forced separation between the lovers, if you needed one. It heightens the drama. In fact, it's become one of the easiest ways to tell if the movie you're watching was made during World War II. Colour won't do it; this movie was in colour, but B&W was still commonplace. Look to see how many men are in uniform. Heck, in one of the [i]Thin Man[/i] movies, Little Nicky is in a uniform, because that was fashionable.
Andy Mason (James Ellison) is the son of a Wall Street bigshot, Andrew Mason, Sr. (Eugene Pallette). He and his father are at a swanky New York nightclub along with his father's associate, Peyton Potter (Edward Everett Horton). While they are there, singing sensation Dorita (Carmen Miranda) and various other showgirls get the men up and teach them how to dance "the Uncle Samba." Potter makes a fool of himself with Dorita, and Andy, who isn't dancing, spots Edie Allen (Alice Faye). He makes a bet that he can hook up with her and follows her to the Stagedoor Canteen. Which he can do, because he's a sergeant in the Army. He is persistent to the point of creepy, and she finally falls for him. Though of course it doesn't matter, because he leaves for the South Pacific the next day. She is about to hit it big, going from a mere chorus girl to a featured performer. But she still spends her time missing Andy.
Oh, who has lied to her and is calling himself Casey. (As in "at the Bat"; the man he made the bet with pointed out that even Mighty Casey struck out.) And the families have long assumed that he and Potter's daughter, Vivian (Sheila Ryan), will be getting married someday. Vivian still assumes it, though they don't seem to have really talked about it. That's how he can be picking up chorus girls while she still assumes that they're engaged. He doesn't exactly go out of his way to dissuade her of the notion, either, from what I can tell. I think he likes stringing her along, to be honest. I think he likes knowing that he's always got a rich, pretty woman wiling to let him take her places. And okay, I'm sure he eventually would have let her know that he was involved with Edie, but why did it take as long as it did? Why didn't he ever mention to Edie that there was a girl that his family expected him to marry? He didn't tell either girl about the other, and he expected it to just work out somehow.
Honestly, the film is riddled with unnecessary secrets so far as I'm concerned. I don't know why Andy didn't tell Edie who he was, either that first night or later. I mean, was he trying to prove that she wasn't a gold digger? Great! But eventually, wouldn't he have been sure enough to tell her? And what did he tell her about his family? It must have been something, right? And then there's Mrs. Potter (Charlotte Greenwood), who used to be a chorus girl herself. But she doesn't want anyone to know, because it would destroy her social standing. Vivian knows, but her father doesn't want anyone else to. Probably isn't happy with Vivian knowing. I don't even know about Andy's mother, because I don't think she puts in an appearance. For all I know, she's dead. And then when Dorita figures out that Andy and "Casey" are the same person, her instinct is to cover it up, because Gods forbid anyone in this movie tell someone else the truth about something important.
Yeah, and then there's the whole plot about how Mason and Potter are hosting a charity show with the performers at Edie and Dorita's nightclub (which, by the way, is Busby Berkeley Big onstage and doesn't look even a little like a real nightclub during the production numbers, especially the bizarre one with the bananas). At the Potters' country home, of course. Which probably has something to do with anything, but it does make the whole thing feel a bit like two movies grafted together, a persistent problem I've noticed over the years. It's as though a certain percentage of screenwriters get halfway through a script and can't figure out where their story is, so they start a new one. They don't throw out the old one, though; they stick the two together and some likely point and hope no one will notice. Of course, it might be argued that plot isn't really the point here, and that's not a bad argument. It's just a vehicle to string a bunch of musical numbers together, and they aren't even great musical numbers.