The Gang's All Here
Cast & Crew
Wealthy businessman Andrew J. "A. J." Mason, Sr. takes his nervous partner, Peyton Potter, to the Club New Yorker for a celebratory evening with his son, Sgt. Andrew J. Mason, Jr., who is about to report for active duty in the Army. A. J. and Andy enjoy the show, which features master of ceremonies Phil Baker and dancer Tony De Marco, while Potter worries about what his wife Blossom would say if she knew he was there. While Potter is trapped into dancing with Brazilian sensation Dorita, Andy becomes intrigued by entertainer Eadie Allen. Phil warns Andy that because Eadie dances at the Broadway Canteen between shows, she will not go out on a date with him, but Andy follows her to the canteen and tells her that his name is Sgt. Pat Casey so that she will not be intimidated by his wealth. Despite her insistence that she cannot date servicemen outside the canteen, Eadie is charmed by Andy and agrees to meet him later when he pursues her to the nightclub. Eadie and Andy spend the evening talking and falling in love, and the next day, Eadie bids him farewell at the train station and promises to write every day. Andy distinguishes himself in battle in the South Pacific, and is granted a furlough after being awarded a medal. A. J. is thrilled and plans to throw a welcome home party for Andy at the Club New Yorker. Phil cannot accommodate his plans, however, as the club is closed for two weeks while the company rehearses a new show. Munificent as always, A. J. invites the performers to rehearse at his and Potter's homes, where they can throw a lavish garden party and war bond rally to welcome Andy. Potter is perturbed about the arrangements when he learns that Blossom knows Phil from her former days as an entertainer, and his chagrin grows when Tony's partner cannot perform and he asks Potter's daughter Vivian to dance with him. Hoping to persuade the stodgy Potter to allow Vivian to perform, Blossom tells him that Phil has threatened to reveal her wild past if Vivian is not in the show. Potter acquiesces, but his problems grow when he is pursued by the romantic-minded Dorita. When not chasing Potter, Dorita learns that Vivian has a boyfriend named Andy, and that he and Eadie's "Casey" are the same man. Complications arise as Dorita tries to keep Vivian and Eadie from discovering Andy's deception. When Andy and the real Pat Casey arrive at the club, however, Eadie learns the truth. Andy proclaims that he wants to marry her and not Vivian, but Eadie insists on breaking off their relationship, as she believes that Vivian really cares for him. During the show, however, Vivian tells Eadie that she is going to Broadway to perform as Tony's permanent partner, and reveals that she and Andy were never truly in love. As the show comes to a close, Eadie and Andy reconcile, and everyone joins in the final song.
Edward Everett Horton
Tony De Marco
The Banda Da Lua
Jo Carroll Dennison
Paul S. Fox
George Root Jr.
S. K. Russell
Joseph C. Wright
Best Art Direction
The Gang's All Here - Busby Berkeley's First Technicolor Musical - THE GANG'S ALL HERE on DVD
It's ironic that this movie has been released on DVD in two different collections in such a short time frame, for it's best characterized not as an Alice Faye or a Carmen Miranda movie, but as a Busby Berkeley movie. It is far and away dominated by Berkeley's consistent visual inventiveness, be it his kaleidoscopic and geometric overhead shots, his knockout color schemes, his special effects, or just by the props and objects that he places in the frame.
For example, before shooting Carmen Miranda's unforgettable number "The Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat," Berkeley must have told the studio brass something like the following: "I'll need half a dozen small monkeys, two oxen, 40 giant prop bananas, and, oh, about 2000 small ones." A statement like that signifies either utter madness or utter genius. Luckily, Fox chief Darryl Zanuck had been at Warner Brothers in the 1930s when Berkeley choreographed Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933) and Footlight Parade (1933), and therefore was unfazed by any level of wackiness this time around. He simply gave Berkeley what he needed (including a high budget and a long shooting schedule), and for that we can all be thankful.
The picture shows right off the bat that it's not going to be presenting itself in the usual musical way; the first image is of a disembodied head singing in the upper left corner of a black screen. When the final number comes to an end 103 minutes later, the last thing we see is a frame filled with singing disembodied heads! It's safe to say that if Busby Berkeley had never been born, no filmmaker would ever have thought of doing this. It's but one of countless images here that manage to be bizarre, funny, surreal and wonderful in one big mishmash.
For all the craziness of the numbers, The Gang's All Here is pure WWII-era escapism that speaks to the girls left behind by war-bound American soldiers. It also gives us the male fantasy of a serviceman sweeping Alice Faye off her feet. James Ellison is about to leave for the Pacific, but before he goes he falls for the seemingly untouchable showgirl Faye, and after some resistance, she falls, too. He goes to war and returns a hero, but his longtime sweetie (Sheila Ryan) expects to marry him. She's become friends with Faye, who doesn't know about Ellison's two-timing. Carmen Miranda plays another singer who basically tries to keep the peace, but the plot isn't nearly as important as this synopsis makes it sound. It's boy meets, loses, and gets girl, set to the luscious music of Benny Goodman and His Orchestra (they're in the film and Benny has a speaking role) and the unique imagery of Berkeley.
Alice Faye performed in this film right after Hello Frisco, Hello (1943), and she was soon to make her last movie (Fallen Angel, 1945) before leaving Hollywood and her career. She looks especially beautiful here and sings a few songs including the superb "No Love, No Nothin'" and "A Journey to a Star." Faye's biographer Jane Lenz Elder has written, "More than any other actor in The Gang's All Here, Alice emerges as a three-dimensional human being rather than a caricature... Berkeley uses Alice to anchor the rest of the film's action, which critics and audiences noted with approval."
Carmen Miranda, on the other hand, was at her peak in this film. It was her sixth American movie and the most prominent role she had yet played. She helps carry this picture, and not just with her singing and dancing; she gets quite a few acting scenes as well, including a hilarious sequence with Edward Everett Horton in which her kisses almost turn him into a proverbial jungle cat! Born in Portugal, raised in Brazil, Miranda had become a singing star and made a few Brazilian films before coming to America to star in musical revues on Broadway. It was only a matter of time before Fox came calling and put her in the Betty Grable/Don Ameche feature film Down Argentine Way (1940). She was a sensation in her jaw-dropping costumes and hats and with her endless energy. Film historian Jeanine Basinger writes in her book The Star Machine that to filmgoers in the 1940s, Miranda "was an exaggeration and a welcome one." Carmen Miranda and Maria Montez, Basinger says, "were stars of the moment in an era that needed their humor, their color, and their considerable pizzazz... They remind us that people can have fun during dark times. They sent things up with a deadly seriousness that is only to be admired."
Also in the cast is Eugene Pallette, pairing comically with Horton and even, yes, singing a lyric of the closing song. Look for Adele Jergens as a chorus girl, June Haver as a hat check girl near the opening, and Jeanne Crain as a girl in a bathing suit who asks Charlotte Greenwood if she's going oor a dip in the pool. These were Crain's first words on film.
Fox Home Entertainment has included all the extras that were on the original DVD release: an audio commentary by Drew Casper, a deleted scene (nothing special but worth a look), a well-produced featurette on Berkeley, a short promotional film Alice Faye made for Pfizer in 1985, which has her reminiscing on her career between clips of her work, two episodes of Faye and husband Phil Harris' 1940s radio show, a trailer and various still galleries.
Also in this box set are four more Carmen Miranda pictures: Greenwich Village (1944), Something For the Boys (1944), Doll Face (1946) and If I'm Lucky (1946). The various extras include a deleted scene from Doll Face, two isolated score tracks, trailers and stills, and a new 83-minute documentary entitled Carmen Miranda: The Girl From Rio which is quite detailed and informative. (It's on the Something for the Boys disc.) Fox has also thrown in a colorful 10-page booklet with printed info on each film. Picture and sound quality are excellent, especially on Doll Face, which looks breathtakingly sharp. Each title comes in its own slim case, and the artwork on all the packaging is beautiful, colorful and fun. Carmen Miranda, whose glamorous face adorns the box cover, would wholeheartedly approve!
For more information about The Gang's All Here, visit Fox Home Entertainment. To order The Gang's All Here, go to TCM Shopping
by Jeremy Arnold
The Gang's All Here - Busby Berkeley's First Technicolor Musical - THE GANG'S ALL HERE on DVD
The working title of this film was The Girls He Left Behind. According to a January 7, 1943 news item, composer Harry Warren was originally scheduled to work with lyricist Mack Gordon on the film's score, but Warren instead wrote the picture's songs with Leo Robin. A March 30, 1943 Hollywood Reporter news item included "Pickin' on Your Momma" in the list of songs to be featured in the film. Modern sources note that the song, along with "Sleepy Moon" and "Drums and Dreams" were cut before the final release. According to Hollywood Reporter news items and a studio press release, Linda Darnell was originally scheduled to play "Vivian Potter," which would have been her first dancing role in motion pictures. During dance rehearsals, however, Darnell sprained her ankle, and after her recovery, eloped with cinematographer Peverell Marley and asked Twentieth Century-Fox for an indefinite leave of absence. Darnell was replaced in the role by Sheila Ryan.
Although Alice Faye did have a singing cameo in the 1944 film Four Jills and a Jeep, this picture marked her last appearance in a musical film until the 1962 version of State Fair. Faye, who was pregnant with her second child during filming of The Gang's All Here, retired from the screen and only made one additional film, the 1945 drama Fallen Angel until 1962. The Gang's All Here marked the screen debuts of actresses June Haver (1926-2005), Jeanne Crain and Jo Carroll Dennison, who was Miss America of 1942. According to a 1944 Los Angeles Times article, the film was to include a take-off on Phil Baker's popular radio show, "Take It or Leave It." The sequence was cut, and Baker instead made an entire film based on the show, called Take It or Leave It, for Twentieth Century-Fox (see below). Director Busby Berkeley was borrowed from M-G-M for The Gang's All Here, although by the time additional scenes were shot in late September 1943, M-G-M had assigned his contract to Warner Bros.
The Gang's All Here was the first color film directed by Berkeley (although he did do the choreography for the 1930 two-strip Technicolor film Whoopee), and the extravagant production numbers were well received. While praising Berkeley's work, the Motion Picture Herald reviewer commented that the production numbers "are opulent in highly effective color combinations and are climaxed by a finale in the cubistic and modernistic tempo which is different from anything that has passed this reviewer's way since some of the abstract treatments employed by Walt Disney's Fantasia." Although some modern sources indicate that the film was banned in Brazil because of the giant bananas featured in "The Lady with Tutti-Frutti Hat" number, the film's file in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library contained no information about censorship in Brazil and the film was approved for export to South American countries. The picture received an Academy Award nomination in the Art Direction (Color) category.