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Warner Bros. and the Homefront

Eddie Cantor , Dennis Morgan , David Butler , Delmer Daves    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Robert Badgley TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Briefly issued individually,Warners has brought together three war time classic musicals and put them into one set called "Warner Brothers and the Homefront Collection";"This is The Army","Thank Your Lucky Stars" and "Hollywood Canteen".And you can thank your lucky stars too,as these movies belong in everyone's collections.
"This is the Army",my favourite among the three,raised more than nine million dollars for the Army Emergency relief fund in its' day,while its' stage counterpart of the previous year raised around a cool two million.One heck of a take and with good reason.Irving Berlin's original shows "Yip,Yip Yaphank" back in WW1 and "This is the Army" for WW2 were extraordinarily successful because they struck a chord not only with servicemen but for the families of servicemen also.Both sides of the "fence" so to speak, could relate to the material being performed before their appreciative eyes.Thus the movie,an amalgam of both Berlin show's, brings that same spirit to the screen and audiences ate every patriotic moment of it up,showing their appreciation at the box office in spades.The story revolves around George Murphy,a dancer by profession, who puts on "Yip,Yip Yaphank" during WW1.When the show ends for the cast the troupe all march off to war.Murphy comes home with an injured leg and is unable to dance again.When WW2 rears its ugly head Murphy gets the idea of putting on another show for the boys but with an updated theme.By this time his son,played by Ronald Reagan,is also in the service and agrees to help his father out.Ron has a girl but refuses to marry her saying that he wants to get the war out of the way first.It's a back and forth tug until eventually Ronald relents later in the film.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  41 reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good set of musicals from the WWII era Aug. 3 2008
By calvinnme - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
These are three musical comedies from the WWII era. It's been some time since I've seen "This is the Army". I've seen the other two pretty recently. I intersperse the press releases with my own remarks.

This is the Army (1942)
Press release:
Irving Berlin showed his abiding love for his adopted country with, among other cultural accomplishments, decades of Broadway hits, the unofficial national anthem "God Bless America" and the World War II spirit-lifter This Is the Army. On stage it featured 350 real-life GIs, giving their singing-and- dancing all to raise nearly $2 million (then an astronomical sum) for Army Emergency Relief.
My remarks:
Irving Berlin actually sings in this one - and not too well. According to one story, after Berlin sang "Oh How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning", one stagehand was overheard saying to another, "If the guy who wrote that could've heard how this guy just sang that song, he'd roll over in his grave." I got this story from someone over at imdb, but I can believe it happened. Great music, but a rather weak storyline. However, you have to remember at this point it was early in the war and the outcome was yet unknown. With everything on the line, people needed this kind of escapist entertainment.

Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)
Press Release:
Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Errol Flynn, and Dinah Shore come out to play in the joyous World War II-era Thank Your Lucky Stars. A breezy, behind-the-Hollywood-scenes story about young talents hoping for a big break glitters with specialty numbers featuring Golden Era greats.
My remarks:
The best of the three films in the bunch, this film does something that nothing else on DVD does to my knowledge - gives us a large dose of Eddie Cantor. Eddie Cantor insists upon being chairman of the Cavalcade of Stars benefit show, in return for the use of his vocalist, Dinah Shore. Eddie keeps disrupting the show and insisting on doing things his way. To complicate matters, there is a certain cab driver who very closely resembles Eddie. In fact, he can't get hired as an actor because of the close resemblance. Eddie does a great job of playing both roles. Other stars performing in the film as themselves include Olivia De Havilland, John Garfield, Ida Lupino, Ann Sheridan, and Jack Carson.

Hollywood Canteen (1944)
The real Hollywood Canteen was the invention of John Garfield and Bette Davis. It was a place where the stars did not only the performing but also waited on the troops. This is a light romantic tale involving a couple of soldiers spending three nights at the Canteen before they must return to duty. As with the other movies, the main reason to watch is the great entertainment provided by the Warner stars.

BONUS FEATURES
New Warner at War Documentary
Star/Historian Commentary
Outtake Song and Restored Overture
Exit Music on Irving Berlin's This is the Army
PLUS - On All Three: Warner NIght at the Movies:
Gallery of Music/Patriotic Shorts
Cartoons
Newsreels
Trailers

This looks to be a great collection and I'm looking forward to viewing both the movies and the extras.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Warner Bros. Homefront Collectiom - Two thumbs up, one thumb down Dec 21 2008
By G. Cohen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I was previously familiar with the three films featured in the "Warner Bros. and the Homefront Collection". My reason for the purchase was to add a high quality DVD set that represented the Warners studio contract players during the height of the studio system. " Thank your Lucky Stars" {particularly Bette Davis singing her wartime lament, "They're Either too Young or too Old") and "Hollywood Canteen" were beautifully transferred to the DVD format. "This is the Army", the only movie in color, was a great disappointment. The picture was lacking in detail and the color was too brightly saturated and inaccurate. Surely, Warners can do better.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warner Brothers and the Homefront-A Five Star general! Feb. 6 2009
By Robert Badgley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Briefly issued individually,Warners has brought together three war time classic musicals and put them into one set called "Warner Brothers and the Homefront Collection";"This is The Army","Thank Your Lucky Stars" and "Hollywood Canteen".And you can thank your lucky stars too,as these movies belong in everyone's collections.
"This is the Army",my favourite among the three,raised more than nine million dollars for the Army Emergency relief fund in its' day,while its' stage counterpart of the previous year raised around a cool two million.One heck of a take and with good reason.Irving Berlin's original shows "Yip,Yip Yaphank" back in WW1 and "This is the Army" for WW2 were extraordinarily successful because they struck a chord not only with servicemen but for the families of servicemen also.Both sides of the "fence" so to speak, could relate to the material being performed before their appreciative eyes.Thus the movie,an amalgam of both Berlin show's, brings that same spirit to the screen and audiences ate every patriotic moment of it up,showing their appreciation at the box office in spades.The story revolves around George Murphy,a dancer by profession, who puts on "Yip,Yip Yaphank" during WW1.When the show ends for the cast the troupe all march off to war.Murphy comes home with an injured leg and is unable to dance again.When WW2 rears its ugly head Murphy gets the idea of putting on another show for the boys but with an updated theme.By this time his son,played by Ronald Reagan,is also in the service and agrees to help his father out.Ron has a girl but refuses to marry her saying that he wants to get the war out of the way first.It's a back and forth tug until eventually Ronald relents later in the film.In the meantime the show goes on with a special number inserted for the original cast members of "Yip,Yip Yaphank",but the members blind side George who is watching from the audience.During the number,which is a close army"drill",he is called by name and rank to go onstage and take over.It's a tender moment for Murphy's character and for us.Near the end of the show legendary Irving Berlin takes to the stage himself to sing"How I hate to get up in the Morning".It's an unforgettable moment in motion picture history.
Through the entire picture we are entertained by some of the best Warner Brothers/First National could muster like Kate Smith doing her penultimate song"God Bless America",Alan Hale(real life father of Alan Hale Jr.,skipper from Gilligan's Island),George Tobias,Joan Leslie,Charles Butterworth,Sgt.Joe Louis(now enlisted boxing champion)and many more all backed by over 300 actual GIs.As I say it is my favourite of the three and it still stirs the soul whenever I watch it.The DVD includes "Warner at War",a new documentary narrated by Steven Spielberg,added commentary by Joan Leslie and Dr Drew Casper,a (deleted from American prints)scene for British audiences,the original overture and exit music re-inserted,a vintage newsreel,cartoon,a musical short and trailers.
"Thank Your Lucky Stars" involves the story of two producers SZ Sakall(one of my favourite all time character actors) and the incomparable Edward Everett Horton wanting to put on a Hollywood Cavalcade show.A concurrent plot involves a wanna be actor Joe Simpson played by legendary Eddie Cantor who befriends Joan Leslie,an aspiring song writer and Dennis Morgan,an aspiring singer.Now Joe just"happens" to look like Eddie Cantor and Eddie(Cantor plays himself also) holds the contract for Dinah Shore whom Sakall and Horton want for their show.Through alot of plot twists and funny turns,the show goes on successfully.Cantor is absolutely wonderful in this film playing a believable dual role.Musical numbers abound of course in this film as the likes of Spike Jones(Hotcha Corn-ya),Hattie McDaniel and Willie Best doing a duet "Ice Cold Katie"(watch for Best at the end getting a mouthful of confetti!),Betty Davis singing"They're always too Young or too Old",Errol Flynn talking/singing "That's what they Jolly well Get",Dinah Shore in numerous lovely numbers,Anne Sheridan,Jack Carson and Alan Hale in an hilarious "Goin' North" routine,Dennis Morgan and Eddie Cantor, sing and strut their stuff in grand style.There is a fantasy number sung by Dennis Morgan called "Good Night,Good Neighbour" which features Alexis Smith in it.Dennis is seeing home and serenading a latin American beauty.This a nod,firstly,to the "good neighbour policy",specifically to our neighbours in South America.Secondly as you watch you are immediately struck by the fact that though well executed,the ideal person for the number should have been Carmen Miranda.But unfortunately Carmen was very busy lady over at 20th Century Fox.
This film is also famous for Sakall out-bullying Humphrey Bogart;it IS a funny moment with Bogart hoping his "...fans don't hear about this".The DVD includes a vintage newsreel,two musical shorts,a patriotic short,a vintage Bugs cartoon,trailers and the radio broadcast recreation of the show with much of the original cast.
"Hollywood Canteen" also has an amazing list of Warner stars being trotted out to entertain us and entertain they do.The story is about a wounded GI Slim Green(fresh faced Robert Hutton) and Sgt Nowland(Dane Clark) who come back on medical leave to Hollywood.Slim wanders Hollywood alone looking at the sights until he ends up at the Hollywood Canteen,the famous service club for GIs.Eventually his sergeant joins him and Slim finds himself in love with actress Joan Leslie(it is mutual) and his sergeant with a studio guide.One night Slim returns and finds he is the 1,000,000th serviceman to enter the Canteen and is feted by one all and picks Leslie as his escort until he has to return to active duty at the end of the weekend.When his train is about to pull out for his return Joan,who ran out of gas,just makes it and frantically looks and finds her man and both end up kissing as the train pulls out(an all too familiar real war time scene).The plot is as transparent as Saran Wrap but it nonetheless is effective in relaying an undercurrent of sentiment and slight realism throughout.Hutton plays a reticent and shy GI to a tee and his performance really makes the picture work as well as it does.You can bet any real GI watching that film would have empathized fully with Slim.As co-founders of the real Hollywood Canteen,Bette Davis and John Garfield are in the movie throughout.The laughs and musicals kicks come from stars like Jack Benny,Joe E Brown,Peter Lorre,Sydney Greenstreet,Barbara Stanwyck,Joan Crawford,Joan McCracken,Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers,Carmen Cavalarro,Jimmy Dorsey,The Andrew Sisters and so many more.The DVD includes a vintage newsreel,three patriotic shorts,three vintage cartoons and trailers.
Technically each film of this set has been newly transferred with great care and some elements even restored."This is the Army" fell into the public domain sometime in the 70s and has been seen for years in a terrible,incomplete and washed out state.This print,fully restored,is simply magnificent.I don't think it looked any better in 1943!The other two films are in black and white and are likewise simply beautiful to behold.Warners is to be given top marks for their efforts here;they have gone the extra mile and it certainly shows.
In conclusion, I just cannot say enough about these films for their entertainment value and just how wonderful they all look.You will certainly find your favourites among these three gems but I warn you it will be tough deciding which.Each is packed with some of Warner Brothers/First Nationals' best stars of that era and are showcased in their best light.At the same time they provide us with as great an entertainment value now as they did over 65 years ago.Besides their obvious value as musicals they are now also historically important pieces.This set therefore is a definite must have;get yours now.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "This Is The Army" Homefront Edition - watch with this in mind Feb. 14 2009
By Eric Huffstutler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
There has been complaints that the newly restored "Irving Berlin's: This Is The Army" currently only available in the Warner Homefront Collection, isn't up to their usual quality. First, a little background is in order...

This is Warner's very first use of the 3-strip Technicolor process for a musical. Color stock was hard to get and discouraged during WWII. The film was made solely for the purpose of raising funds for the war effort and in 1950, the studio gave the film over to Army Emergency Relief then it fell into public domain in the 1970s. Original negative elements are most likely lost forever.

In 1991 the cable movie network AMC along with UCLA Film and Television Archive did a restoration of the film but the results ended up not so well with flickering and color shifts. All other copies available were so faded that they had a sepia tone color to them and it was one of these that Warner obviously worked from. The "saturation" of colors upon close inspection on a 1080p television shows that the film was "colorized" and there are times with details where you have glow and odd color edge enhancements due to register shifts giving a 3-D effect (without the glasses) on some background objects and people. Take a look at the mass of soldiers in one skit.. all of the faces are exactly identical in color and look like they cut and pasted 300 copies onto the frame. The only skit that looked fairly natural was the Harlem number where the African Americans skin tones were varied because they didn't have to colorize the sepia for their faces and uniforms like with the pinkish white actor faces. Grass, shrubs, clothing, even eye colors and hair all look "solid" and pop out unnaturally at times from the overlay of color and of course metal tones were off.

All said, this is the best this film will look unless they find the original 3 strip negative elements and being such a specialized movie doubt it will be revisited. Warner should have made this known up front of the movie but the only disclaimers were the P.C. ones but did give us more extras on this disc than the others as an apology of sorts. Watch this movie with an open mind that it looks colorized and then enjoy.

Eric S. Huffstutler
Richmond, VA
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meanwhile, Back At the Ranch Feb. 11 2011
By R. Deniston - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Wow. This collection is a virtual museum of mid-World War Two entertainment. Warner Bros. did an excellent job of recreating something of what it would have been like to see these films in the theatre, and it's a must-see for anyone who is interested in the time period. Or, for that matter, anyone who enjoys the work of Joan Leslie, who is in all three films and is her usual sweetheart self.

"This Is the Army" features stellar music by Irving Berlin. I actually have sung the title song to my son, and even when he was a baby he thought it was extremely funny. The key phrase when thinking of "Army" is "PERIOD PIECE." There's a minstral show (it was okay back then, though today's audiences may squirm), there are lots of guys in drag (go with it), and there are plenty of antics, such as someone throwing a shoe at a bugler. Ronald Reagan is basically the stage manager of the second Army show, and it's fun to see him at the beginning of his career.

"Thank Your Lucky Stars" is jaw-dropping. Bette Davis and John Garfield sing, Errol Flynn dances, and Eddie Cantor is everywhere. Yipes. I asked my mom about this guy--my parents were both born at the beginning of World War Two--and she told me Eddie Cantor did burlesque and vaudeville, so his performance style was pretty explosive. Darned right. All I know is I never saw anyone move their eyes like that before.

"Hollywood Canteen" may be the best of the three. When I first saw this film on Turner Classic Movies, I wanted to eat it up with a spoon. Like "Stage Door Canteen," it features a wall-to-wall Who's Who of 1940s pop culture, and it's done brilliantly. Some of the highlights are performances by the Andrews Sisters, Dane Clark's animal magnetism, and a touch of romance with Robert Hutton and Joan Leslie. I would say more, but I don't want to ruin it for anyone.

"Warner Bros. and the Homefront Collection" is definitely worth it. Lots of history and lots of fun.
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