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This Is the Army

This Is the Army(1943)

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The title card reads "Irving Berlin's This Is The Army." Although the opening credits include a copyright statement, the film is not listed in the Catalog of Copyright Entries. The film opens with the following written statement: "We wish to thank Mr. Irving Berlin for making this motion picture possible through his two soldier shows: Yip, Yip, Yaphank-1918; This Is the Army-1943. This picture is being distributed for the benefit of the United States Army Emergency Relief Fund." A May 21, 1942 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that Paramount was negotiating for the film rights to Irving Berlin's play. The July 18, 1942 issue of Pacific Coast Musician states that Warner Bros. bought the stage rights for $250,000. In the October 17, 1942 issue of Collier's, an article relates that the stage show raised about five million dollars for the Army Emergency Relief Fund. The stage production opened its tour in Washington, D.C. on September 29, 1942 and finished the tour in Los Angeles, where many members of the production joined the cast of the film. Collier's reported that even while rehearsing and performing, the company did two hours of military drills daily. An July 8, 1942 Hollywood Reporter news item notes that all the actors were in some branch of the Army. Although this was not strictly true, all the uniformed men who appeared were members of the armed forces. Irving Berlin performed his song "Oh, How I Hate to Get up in the Morning" in the film.
       According to information in the Warner Bros. Collection at the USC Cinema-Television Library, Dinah Shore was asked to sing the song "What Does He Look Like?" but declined the offer, stating that in her opinion, the lyrics were more appropriate for a male singer. In the film, the song is sung by Frances Langford. Fred Astaire, Joseph Cotten and Walter Huston were all considered for the role of "Jerry," and George Brent was offered the role of "Col. Davidson," but refused to work for no salary. Ginger Rogers was considered for the role of "Eileen." Hollywood Reporter news items add the following information about the production: Jack Warner, Hal Wallis, Michael Curtiz and Casey Robinson all donated their salaries to the Army Emergency Relief Fund. The songs "The Girl He Left Behind," "My Sweetie" and "Dressed Up to Kill" were composed especially for the film. Some scenes were shot on location at Camp Cooke in central California. The World War I battle scenes were filmed at the Warner Ranch in Calabasas, CA. Five hundred men were used in the final number "This Will Be the Last Time."
       According to the Hollywood Reporter review, the top ticket price at the New York City premiere was $55. All of the film's profits were donated to the Army Emergency Relief Fund. The film cost $1,400,000 to produce. A December 15, 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item notes that the original negative of the film was turned over permanently to This Is the Army, Inc., on behalf of the Army Emergency Relief Fund. Fred Kelly was Gene Kelly's brother. The film was named one of the Film Daily Ten Best Pictures of 1943. According to modern sources, This Is the Army is one of the highest grossing musical films of all time. Ray Heindorf won an Academy Award for his musical score. The film was also nominated for Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration in a color film and for Best Sound Recording. Two hundred unbilled soldiers and a chorus of professional singers performed in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the story on February 22, 1943.