This Is the Army - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

This Is the Army Reviews

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July 1, 2015
Made by Warner Bros. to raise money for the Army Relief Fund (the film grossed an amazing $9.5 million), this is a colorful representation of two Irving Berlin shows: "Yip Yip Yaphank (from WWI) and "This Is the Army" (from WWII). The hit songs included "I Left My Heart at the Stage Door Canteen" and the title tune.
½ December 1, 2014
star studded WWII musical
April 13, 2012
The highlight of this film is the 'this is the army' song.
August 13, 2011
Seems like a forgotten classic, and it even has Ronald Reagan!
November 7, 2010
The musical "This Is The Army" qualifies as the most unusual war film that Warner Brothers produced. This Home Front musical stirred up controversy with scenes where active duty armed forces personnel cavorted in female apparel. Essentially, two Irvin Berlin stage plays, "Yip, Yip, Yaphank," a 1917 stage production, and Berlin's successful 1942 Broadway play "This Is The Army," served as the basis for the film. "Casablanca" scenarist Casey Robinson and veteran screenwriter Claude Binyon, an army captain now, added a back stage story about a young soldier's reluctance to marry his sweetheart before he marches off to war. The movie also spelled out its patriotic, gung-ho ideology in the last scene with the song "This Time Is The Last Time." The lyrics of this song suggested that there would not be a World War III. Warner Brothers assigned Casablanca director Michael Curtiz to "This Is The Army." Production on this Technicolor "A" picture got underway February 24, 1943 and ended May 14, 1943.

The action unfolds in New York City in 1917 as dancer Jerry Jones (George Murphy) receives his draft notice. Jones marries his sweetheart Ethel (Rosemary DeCamp) and then reports for duty. At boot camp, Jerry struggles to make the transition from dancer to foot soldier. He makes his drill instructor, Sergeant McGee (Alan Hale, Sr.), painfully aware of his problem with regimentation. When Sergeant McGee talks about Jerry's problem to the camp commandant, Major John B. Davidson (Stanley Ridges), the commander decides that Jerry's talents may be put to better use on a morale boosting play. Jerry produces and stages "Yip, Yip, Yaphank," a show about Army life. As the show draws to a finish, the doughboys march off the stage in full fighting gear, down the aisles, and head for their transport ship. Jerry sees action somewhere in France, and comes home a cripple. He walks with a slight limp, but his handicap does not restrict him from his first love‚"the stage. He opens a theatrical talent agency.

The film leaps from 1918 to 1941, and Jerry's son, Johnny (Ronald Reagan), enlists in the Army to fight World War II. Johnny's sweetheart Eileen Dibble (Joan Leslie) wants to marry him before he leaves, but he refuses to exchange vows. Meanwhile, Jerry gets together with Major Davidson, and they arrange for Jerry to produce another morale boosting musical. Reluctantly, Johnny helps out his father. Unlike "Yip, Yip, Yaphank," the new show incorporates African-Americans in the cast, most prominently boxing champion Sergeant Joe Louis (the actual Joe Lewis), and features an all black musical number "That's What The Well-Dressed Man in Harlem" will wear‚"army khakis. As the soldiers are about to perform their final number, Ethel persuades Johnny to marry her. In the closing number, Johnny and the troops march off to World War II singing "This Time Is The Last Time." No sooner had Warner Brothers prepared to go into production on "This Is The Army" than an issue arose involving overseas distribution and the Office of Censorship. Warner sent a memo to Hal Wallis about the matter dated December 28, 1942, that Allison Durland, an unofficial adviser to the OOC who handled Latin American affairs for the PCA, said, "regardless of extenuating circumstances he does not believe export license would be granted because of female impersonators." As Warner Brothers would learn to their surprise, Central and Latin American countries considered men dressing up as women as repugnant and immoral. That American soldiers would be impersonating females did not go over well either.

Although Warner Brothers released This Is The Army to domestic theaters on August 14, 1943, the studio had to confront the unexpected crisis over female impersonators, a predicament unique to this movie, because they produced no other films during the war that created so much controversy over something that everybody involved in deemed more amusing than offensive. Warner Brothers foreign distribution executive Carl Schaefer sent a memo to Warner on December 17, 1943, after he had conferred with Rothacker. Schaefer told Warner that he had "been advised unofficially we will be denied export license for This Is The Army if men play chorus girls as in the stage production." At length, Schaefer explained the rationale to Warner, "Female impersonators do not exist in Latin America: men in women's clothing are highly insulting and revolting to Latin American sensibilities and censors. Even could the film be exported, United States soldiers cavorting in dresses would represent ammunition to the enemy's propagandists. The Universal Pictures film "Argentina Nights" (1940) proved this point.

"This Is The Army" is a blast to watch.
November 3, 2010
My first Reagan film! Not bad, but clearly propaganda.
bbcfloridabound
Super Reviewer
½ August 16, 2010
This Film has President Ronald Reagan in it, a very talented guy. Its a little while before he appears. Its made during WWII so its not as dramatic as most movies of Combat during that Era. Still with President Reagan in it deserves 3 1/2 stars.
October 26, 2009
All-Singing, All-Dancing Soldiers

One of the side effects of this project is that I tend to be about the only person on Rotten Tomatoes to have seen some of the movies. (Yes, this is library, not Netflix--it appears in their catalog as [i]Irving Berlin's This Is the Army[/i].) Sometimes, this is not necessarily a bad thing. This movie was not terrible, though it's World War II propaganda at its finest. With a little residual World War I propaganda thrown in for variety's sake. It also features some wildly dated material--and the worst bit of it even has someone saying that it isn't dated and is always in good fun. Times were different then, of course, but there's a reason there's a disclaimer at the beginning of the film about how certain of the bits of the movie are perhaps not in the best taste, for all they're a thing that happened then.

First, it is World War I. In order to improve morale, a bunch of guys are allowed to put on a show, which they take on tour. And then, they're pretty much marched offstage and onto ships to take them overseas. Some of them die, and the lead of the show, Jerry Jones (George Murphy), gets seriously wounded and ends up with a gimpy leg. Obviously, he has to give up his career as a hoofer, but he becomes a show promoter instead. So that's all right. But then World War II rolls around, and we start by pretending we cared that the Germans invaded Poland. And the sons of the men who were in the first show go off and join the military and end up in a second show. Jerry's son Johnny (Ronald Reagan!) is one of them. He's also refusing to marry his childhood sweetheart (I didn't catch her name), because he doesn't think it will do her any good. Because he's stupid.

That whole subplot really bothered me. He was himself a war baby. His mother was a war bride. Theoretically, his parents should be able to tell him that there are, actually, substantive benefits to getting married before the man goes away to war. Heck, I considered it myself, though the benefits would go away when he came back, so we didn't do that. However, we have special circumstances. We don't count. Ronald Reagan's stance here doesn't make any sense, and I really wanted someone other than the girl to tell him so. She could be seen to be biased. His dad or his sergeant or his dad's sergeant could have set him straight on that, but it doesn't seem as though anyone even tried.

So that offensive stuff? Yeah, blackface. And that was bad enough. What's even worse is that some of the men in blackface are also in drag. Indeed, there's an awful lot of drag in the movie. It's kind of alarming. They kind of use it as a punishment for one of the characters at one point, but that doesn't seem to be the case for the other twenty or so people. If I remember correctly, it's all in the World War II show, too. It's not as though there aren't women in auxiliary capacities in the military by that point. Heck, Ronald Reagan's girlfriend, there, shows up in a uniform toward the end of the picture. Yeah, okay, Red Cross uniform. But still. And hell, there are actual black people in the show, including Sergeant Joe Louis. Sure, the sergeant, there, is stiff as hell, but doubtless there were other black soldiers who wouldn't be. Ditto actual women. I guess people thought this was funnier.

I've seen some good World War II propaganda. This isn't the worst of it, but it certainly isn't the best. Reagan is, as always, a bit on the stiff side, which is odd, given his later fame as--let's be honest with ourselves--a public performer. (Great Communicator my eye--great speech reader.) The odd thing is that the characters and so forth do not seem to have learned a lesson from the War to End All Wars. Once again, these men are being marched off the stage and onto transports, or at any rate back to their units. This should be familiar to everyone. The really heartbreaking part is that the finale is them singing about how they're going to go off to Europe and do it right this time. So it won't ever happen again.
September 21, 2009
Not bad propaganda as a musical. The best bit is, it has a minstrel show part that's pretty good that's followed a couple songs later with a sequence starring boxer Joe Louis and some black dancers that kicks the shit out of every other musical number in it. Too funny.
July 17, 2009
Patriotic City or what! This movie has it all, comedy, romance, great music and Ronald Reagn (sans his Bonzo movies). This one's a toe tapper.
July 10, 2009
Irving Berlin's music is genius! I genuinely enjoyed this movie. And, after completing 6 months of Army training last year, I can completely understand the song, "Oh, How I Hate to Get up in the Morning." Too true. The only thing that got me was the abundance of men dressed up as women --- odd.

Overall, it's a great movie. Highly recommended!
½ June 21, 2009
An all around great movie! I have to admit though, I got the movie for 1 song - "This Is the Army, Mr. Jones". I never could find a proper CD recording of the song.
February 4, 2009
I enjoyed this move that I bought it
½ November 27, 2008
hey its ronald reagan, the then future president at his finest. this is a pretty good army movie, pretty funny and enjoyable to watch.
April 28, 2008
Good ol' Ronals Reagan.
April 4, 2008
Classic. Good times at Grandma's house during Christmas Eve.
½ March 31, 2008
This is a great movie with a ton of great actors. The Irving Berlin song about the bugler is my favorite.
January 14, 2008
if only fred thompson could sing and dance
October 2, 2007
A little disappointing, but hey, I just had to see the former President in a movie--he's not bad! Plus, it was a dollar.
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