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The real Hollywood Canteen was started by John Garfield, Canteen vice-president, and Bette Davis, president. Located on Cahuenga Blvd. near Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood, CA, it opened on October 3, 1942. According to contemporary news items, the film began production in November 1943, but a dispute between Warner Bros. and the Screen Actors Guild caused the production to be temporarily suspended. SAG rules stipulated that each of the actors and actresses be paid full salaries for their appearance in the film, even if that appearance was very brief. Warner Bros. stopped filming on December 22, 1943 and demanded a public apology from the Guild. The studio alleged that the Guild's complaint violated the original studio-guild contract by, among other things, placing players in jeopardy and indirectly running counter to the national wage stabilization program. The Guild responded by stating that the union would "waive application of the rule to such players as voluntarily wish to play in the Warner production, but that it would apply the rule for the protection of any player not wishing to play in the picture or against whom pressure to play might be made on a 'patriotic' basis." When the studio brought suit against the Guild, it responded, "The real issue in this suit is not whether Warner Bros. can make Hollywood Canteen but whether the Guild has the right to enforce rules governing the conduct of its members." By the end of April 1944, the suit was dismissed after an out-of-court agreement in which the Guild agreed that a week's pro-rated salary was a fair minimum for freelance actors who usually work on a "per-picture" basis. Other studios refused to loan their players to Warner Bros. under these terms. A New York Times article dated April 30, 1944 notes that nine similar "all-star" films had been planned by other studios, but were dropped before the agreement was announced. The film resumed shooting in June 1944 using Warner Bros. contract players.
Other Hollywood Reporter news items add the following information about the production: Warner Bros. developed new recording and playback equipment that was used for the first time during the making of this film. The equipment included a new, more accurate cueing device and resulted in less feedback and distortion. Scenes were shot on location at the Veterans Administration Hospital on Sawtelle Blvd., in the Bel-Air Estates, at the Farmer's Market and on the Sunset Strip. Forty percent of the film's gross receipts were to be donated to the Hollywood Canteen. According to modern sources, this film was one of Warner Bros. top money makers of the year. The film received Oscar nominations for Best Sound Recording, Best Scoring of a Musical Picture and Best Song ("Sweet Dreams Sweetheart"). Hollywood Canteen marked the film debut of stage actress Joan McCracken.