Cast & Crew
S. Sylvan Simon
In early 1941, Colonel Lawton of the 19th Cavalry Regiment learns that his unit must convert from horses to tanks. Lawton, who himself is reluctant to change, knows that his hardest task will be to convince long-time cavalry men such as "Hap" Doan to give up their horses. Hap wants to transfer to another cavalry unit, but Lawton will not allow it, so Hap sadly goes to his horse Cantigny, whom he loves as much as the army, to tell her that he is going to buy her when he retires. Hap then goes off base for the weekend and is irritated that his departure is impeded at every turn by oncoming tanks. When he finally gets into town, he goes on a weekend-long bender and winds up at the home of his faithful girl friend Susie. Susie, who has moved her restaurant from town to town over the last eighteen years to stay close to Hap, patiently listens to his most recent proposal and promise to retire and buy a farm for her and Cantigny. Hap bristles when Russell, a former cavalry man who was dishonorably discharged, arrives to visit Susie. Russell has always been a rival for Susie's affections, and Hap is suspicious of Russell's recent affluence, which he claims comes from horse promotions. When Hap returns to the base, new recruits are arriving, including Joe Hanson, whose bride Sally follows him onto the base. While Joe is being trained by Hap, Sally goes to Susie's restaurant. Susie feels sorry for Sally and offers her cheap room and board when she learns that she is going to have a baby. Despite his initial misgivings, Hap grudgingly begins to like the hard-working and enthusiastic Joe and seems to have adjusted to the unit's changes. One day, however, some new tanks arrive and the one that Joe drives blows up because it has been sabotaged. Joe cannot control the vehicle, which crashes into the stable in which Cantigny is housed. The horse's injuries are so severe that the vet orders her to be put down, and Hap sadly asks to shoot her himself. Five days later, Hap is AWOL, but Lawton refuses to take action. Instead he extends Hap's pass and asks his pals, Strong, Krims and Cartaret, to bring him back. In the meantime, an FBI man from Washington arrives, and the colonel tells him that they have been unable to find the saboteurs, but he is convinced that there is a "Mr. Brains" behind the operation. The next day, Susie shows up at the base and begs the colonel not to court-martial Hap, whom she has not seen since he went AWOL. Just then, Hap arrives, accompanied by his three pals, who all have torn clothes and black eyes. Instead of thanking Lawton for his indulgence, Hap yells at him, prompting the colonel to order Hap to the guardhouse. Hap is then court-martialed and given a dishonorable discharge, but, instead of forwarding the papers to Washington, Lawton refuses to sign them and tells his aide to throw Hap out of the guardhouse. Hap goes to Susie's, where Joe has also gone to see Sally. Because Hap refuses to listen to Joe's apologies, Susie won't let him stay and tearfully says that she is ashamed of him. Russell overhears everything and goes after Hap, saying that he has always wanted to be friends, and promising to find Hap a job. Three weeks later, Russell takes Hap to the office of Mr. Leech, who is a spy, and Hap agrees to help them prevent a shipment of tanks from reaching the East Coast. Late that night, Hap sneaks into camp and goes to Lawton, with whom he has been secretly working, and reveals that he has made contact with the spy ring. Lawton asks Hap to stay with the spies until he finds out who "Mr. Brains" is. He then gives Hap specific information to pass on to the spies. Soon Hap goes on a long drive with Russell and Leech and finally stops at a barn close to a bridge on which Leech's men are setting dynamite meant to destroy the tank train. Because Hap has not been able to make a call, he knows that he has to do something. Just as Hap is drawing his gun, Nichols, who is the leader of the gang, shows up and a fight ensues during which Hap is knocked unconscious. As the train approaches, Hap awakens and in a scuffle, gets the gun. The man at the dynamite plunger then is forced to push it too soon, causing the bridge to blow up prematurely and giving the train enough time to stop. The soldiers, including Joe, then hear shooting and go to the barn, where they find a wounded Hap, who salutes before falling unconscious. At a regiment assembly some time later, as Lawton pins a medal on a very proud Hap, the old cavalry man says that he has always thought that tanks were very practical.
S. Sylvan Simon
Clyde De Vinna
Capt. Arthur Field
J. Walter Ruben
Edwin B. Willis
The Bugle Sounds
The Bugle Sounds may have been shot in black and white, but its red, white and blue colors come through loud and clear. Shot with the full cooperation of the U.S. Army Department, the film extols the virtues of the armed forces and demonstrates the powerful force of Uncle Sam's modern tanks. The Army Department granted the production access to military bases in Kentucky and Washington state, resulting in some impressive real-life footage of training and combat drills throughout The Bugle Sounds.
Lewis Stone, George Bancroft, William Lundigan and Henry O'Neill round out the strong supporting cast of The Bugle Sounds, a film described by Variety as "packed with sound patriotic fervor, thrills and comedy...heightened by excellent performances by the stars..."
Producer: J. Walter Ruben
Director: S. Sylvan Simon
Screenplay: Cyril Hume (Screenplay), Lawrence Kimble, Cyril Hume (both story)
Cinematography: Clyde De Vinna
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Music: Lennie Hayton; Daniele Amfitheatrof (uncredited)
Film Editing: Ben Lewis
Cast: Wallace Beery (Sergeant Patrick Aloysius 'Hap' Doan), Marjorie Main (Susie 'Suz'), Lewis Stone (Colonel Jack Lawton), George Bancroft (Russell 'Russ'), Henry O'Neill (Lieutenant Colonel Harry Seton), Donna Reed (Sally Hanson), Chill Wills (Sergeant Larry Dillon), William Lundigan (Joe 'Joey' Hanson), Tom Dugan (Sergeant Strong), Guinn Williams (Sergeant Krims).
BW-102m. Closed Captioning.
by Andrea Passafiume
The Bugle Sounds
The working title of the film was Steel Cavalry. The opening credits read, "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents with the gratefully acknowledged cooperation of the United States Army." The picture opens with a prologue consisting of a dedication, montage and narration explaining the history and importance of all divisions of the U.S. Army. The prologue, which is musically accompanied by the old cavalry song "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," ends with the words "...America entrusts the future of human liberty to the strong hands of these young men. Is there any here who will not say 'God bless and keep them?'" According to a September 18, 1941 news item in Hollywood Reporter, Richard Thorpe filled in for director S. Sylvan Simon while Simon was ill with the flu.
A news item in Hollywood Reporter on December 8, 1932 noted that M-G-M had planned an earlier production of The Bugle Sounds that was to be produced by George Fitzmaurice and directed by Sam Wood. The 1932 project was in no way related to the 1941 production, but was actually an unrealized project that began in 1929 as a vehicle to co-star Wallace Beery and Lon Chaney, Jr. as sergeants in the French Foreign Legion.
Hollywood Reporter news items from August through October 1941, as well as a New York Times feature article on November 30, 1941, report that much of the film was shot on location at Fort Ord, CA, with some backgrounds shot at Fort Knox, KY and Fort Lewis, WA. News items also reported that M-G-M additionally needed to construct on the lot a huge replica of Fort Knox and Fort Lewis. A Hollywood Reporter news item on September 2, 1941 noted that Major-General Adna R. Chaffee, who had served as a U.S. Cavalry officer for twenty-five years but had just died the previous week, was originally to act as the film's technical advisor. Actor Arthur Space, who had previously worked on the stage, was brought to Hollywood by M-G-M in late 1941. The Bugle Sounds was the first motion picture in his forty-year career as a character actor in films and on television. Wallace Beery recreated his role for a Lux Radio Theatre presentation of the story on January 4, 1943.