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Follow the Boys

Follow the Boys(1944)

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The working titles of this film were Three Cheers for the Boys, Hip Hip Hooray, On with the Show and Cheers for the Boys. Other titles considered by Universal for the film included Three Cheers and Happy Days. Musical numbers missing from this print, which ran 110 minutes, include Sophie Tucker's rendition of "Some of These Days" and Dinah Shore's performance of "Mad About Him Blues." In addition to "Shoo Shoo Baby," The Andrews Sisters performed a medley of their hits, including brief segments of such songs as "Bei Mir Bist du Schn," "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," "Pennsylvania Polka," "Hold Tight, Hold Tight (Want Some Sea Food Mama)" and "I'll Be with You in Apple Blossom Time." In addition to the musical numbers, Follow the Boys features a magic act by Orson Welles and Marlene Dietrich, which they performed numerous times during the war to entertain the troops. W. C. Fields also reprised his famous pool-shooting routine, which he had first performed in vaudeville and then in his film debut in the 1915 one-reel silent, The Pool Shark. Classical pianist Artur Rubinstein made his motion picture debut in Follow the Boys. The Palace Theatre in New York, as depicted in the beginning of the film, was a 1,735 seat vaudeville house which opened on March 24, 1913 and closed on 16 November 1932.
       Follow the Boys was Universal Pictures' contribution the all-star musical revues that were being presented by the major Hollywood studios in support of the war effort. Other films in this vein include Warner Bros.' Hollywood Canteen, M-G-M's Thousands Cheer and Paramount's Star Spangled Rhythm (see entries below). According to Universal press materials, the actual Hollywood Victory Committee arranged for 1,562 actors and actresses to make 12,619 free appearances at 2,197 events in 1943, as well as raising billions of dollars in war bonds.
       According to a contract found in the Charles K. Feldman papers at the AFI Louis B. Mayer Library between producer Feldman and writer/director A. Edward "Eddie" Sutherland, Feldman, who was chairman of the Talent Committee for the H.V.C., agreed to pay Sutherland $6,000 a week, for a minimum of six weeks, to write a screenplay with Gertrude Purcell called Three Cheers for the Boys. The contract also contained a provision for Sutherland to direct the film. In July 1943, Feldman brought writer Stephen Longstreet onto the project, who finished his re-write of the script on July 20, 1943, at which time writer Lou Breslow was hired by the producer to touch up the screenplay.
       On August 6, 1943, Feldman signed a contract with Universal to produce a screenplay entitled Three Cheers for the Boys, written by Purcell, Longstreet and Sutherland. Under this contract, Universal agreed to produce the film, under its new title On with the Show. According to the Feldman papers, Follow the Boys had grossed $1,520,000 in its domestic releases as of October 31, 1959, with a worldwide gross in excess of $2,460,000.
       Hollywood Reporter news items include Elyse Knox and the dance team of Cappella and Patricia in the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Universal press materials state that Donald O'Connor and Peggy Ryan's musical number, "Kittens with Their Mittens Laced," was filmed during its actual performance before a military audience at Camp Roberts, CA. According to the Feldman papers, stock footage of overseas entertainment shows were provided by the U.S. War Department's Bureau of Public Relations. Hollywood Reporter news items also report that flamenco dancer Carmen Amaya, the only Latin player in the cast, received billing above the other Hollywood guest stars when Follow the Boys opened in Mexico. Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn received an Academy Award nomination for their song "I'll Walk Alone," but lost to the Jimmy Van Heusen-Johnny Burke composition "Swinging on a Star" from the Paramount release Going My Way .
       Modern sources add the following actors to the cast: John Carson (Solider at radio), Bill Wolfe (Zoot suit man), Daisy (Fifi, a dog), Lee Bennett (Acrobat), George Eldridge (Submarine officer), Marie Osborne (Nurse), Nicodemus Stewart (Lt. Reynolds, USAF), George Chirello (Magician's assistant), Janice Gary, Jane Smith, Marjorie Fectan, Doris Brenn, Rosemary Battle, Lolita Leighter, Mary Rowland, Eleanor Counts and Linda Brent (Magic maids), Augustn Castelln Sabicas and Philo McCullough.