Cast & Crew
While riding on horseback with fellow actor Bill Demarest near the vast Irvine Ranch in Southern California, Jimmy Stewart pauses to explain that Irvine will be the location of the 1953 Boy Scout Jamboree and that scouts from all over the United States as well as many foreign countries will be attending. An off-screen narrator then takes over to describe the extensive planning involved in creating a temporary city of tents, which for a week will be home to more than fifty thousand boys: Eight miles of roads are graded, a temporary bridge is borrowed from the Army and a huge electrical plant is installed. Eighty-five miles of pipes are laid to supply three million gallons of water a day. To further serve the city, which is larger than Tucson, Arizona, a complete telephone exchange, medical complex, fire department, post office and a mammoth outdoor theater, capable of holding seventy-five thousand people, are created. Meanwhile, across the country in towns like Wheeling, West Virginia, Dayton, Ohio, and Grand Junction, Colorado, as well as around the world in Japan, Mexico, the Philippines and many other countries, scouts and scoutmasters are setting off for the Jamboree by plane, train, bus and ship. Eventually all arrive at the destination and settle in, making new friends immediately. The first day's official schedule begins with a patrol leaders council, followed by breakfast, which the boys must prepare themselves. During the opening ceremony, flags representing every attending nation are raised. Thereafter, many traditional scouting activities begin: marksmanship with rifle and bow and arrow, fire making, leather crafts, uni-cycling, fishing, knot making and the study of American Indian lore. A swapping tent is opened where boys can exchange items they have brought from their homes. At night, many Hollywood celebrities come to perform in the outdoor theater. The boys themselves prepare an elaborate pageant depicting three hundred years of American history and join in song and fellowship around campfires. Other activities include transporting four thousand boys in school buses to a beach. On Sunday morning, there are religious services for scouts of numerous faiths, including Catholics, Buddhists, Protestants, Jews, Christian Scientists, and Latter-Day Saints. After the services, a scout from East Germany tells several others about scouting in Communist countries. That evening, at convocation ceremonies, the chief scout introduces several religious leaders, who praise the merits of scouting. American vice-president Richard Nixon is also on hand to greet the assembly, and the evening concludes with a candlelight service praying for peace in the world. The following day, after catching up with their laundry in improvised washing machines, some of the boys discuss the wonders of the U.S. and, at night, all attend a massive show hosted by Bob Hope. The show opens with Jane Powell singing "The Star Spangled Banner," after which numerous Hollywood stars appear briefly. The climax is a big fireworks show. The next day, numerous groups go sight-seeing to the San Juan Capistrano Mission, Catalina Island, the Santa Ana Naval Air Base, oilfields and Lockheed Aircraft. In the late afternoon, the scouts attend a rodeo show in the arena. The week passes very quickly and on the final evening, thirty thousand visitors join the boys as they present their pageant, accompanied by an all scout band. The evening closes with a filmed message from President Dwight D. Eisenhower in which he praises the Jamboree and stresses the need for all peoples to work together.
Edmond F. Bernoudy Jr.
Mitchell Boys Choir
George L. Murphy
A title at the film's beginning states: "The Boy Scouts of America are indebted to the following organizations and individuals for their gracious assistance in making this film possible: Roy Brewer, William Demarest, Cecil B. DeMille, George Dye, Leonard K. Firestone, Pete Smith, James Stewart, Ed Thomas, Col. J. L. Warner, Y. Frank Freeman, William Meiklejohn, Howard Hughes, I.A.T.S.E., James C. Petrillo, Dore Schary and Louis K. Sidney." No production or distribution companies were credited on screen, but the The Exhibitor review indicated that the film had been produced by GM Productions and was being released by Exploitation Productions, Inc. The film was not listed in release charts, but was approved for distribution in New York in 1954, according to NYSA records. After being blown up to 35mm, from its original 16mm, the film received several theatrical bookings.
AHollywood Citizen-News article of July 16, 1953 reported that production had begun on the film temporarily titled Boy Scouts of America...Jamboree 1953 with four camera crews covering the activities on the "largest set (3,000 acres) of any movie ever made."
On January 6, 1954, Hollywood Reporter printed an account of an invitational screening of the film at the M-G-M studios. The report stated that studio excecutive George Murphy conceived the film and that Leonard K. Firestone of Firestone Tire & Rubber and Ed Thomas of Goodyear Tires had provided two-thirds of the financing. The U.S. State Department provided the other third at the suggestion of director Cecil B. De Mille. The State Department's Overseas Information Service intended to distribute the film internationally as a testimonial on behalf of democracy and against Communism. The article stated that, in addition to those credited onscreen, the film was narrated by Del Sharbutt and Martin Berkeley and Edmond F. Bernoudy, Jr., Donald MacLean, Basil Wrangell and Lou Ostrow contributed to the script. C. Bakaleinikoff conducted the RKO-Radio studio orchestra.
The following celebrities are seen very briefly during the film: Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Trigger, Frank Faylen, Eddie Bracken, Mitzi Gaynor, Jerry Colonna, Dorothy Lamour, Lanny Ross, Johnny Mack Brown, Wild Bill Elliott, Preston Foster, Lash LaRue, George Montgomery, Tex Ritter, Jack Mahoney, Dick Jones, June Allyson, Anne Francis, Lita Baron, Rory Calhoun, Jeff Chandler, Gene Nelson, Dick Powell, Debbie Reynolds, Will Rogers, Jr., January Sterling, Vera-Ellen, Danny Kaye, Monte Montana, Chill Wills, Francis the Talking Mule, Richard M. Nixon and Dwight D. Eisenhower.