Classic Film Guide

Hollywood Canteen (1944) - full review!

Directed and written by Delmer Daves, the film received Oscar nominations for original song "Sweet Dreams Sweetheart", Score, and Sound. Other than those mentioned below, Alexis Smith, Joe E. Brown, Kitty Carlisle, Alan Hale, Paul Heinreid as a dishwasher, Andrea King, and dozens of others, credited or uncredited. Follows another story written by Daves but based in New York, Stage Door Canteen (1943).

If you are a fan of the movie stars of the early 40's, this film is a real treat. Though the plot is real thin, the opportunity to see some of your favorite stars in a humble, and contrived, environment is great. The story, which revolves around the titled nightclub which was purportedly a refuge for soldiers on leave during World War II, is about a soldier (played by Robert Hutton) who gets to meet, and be kissed by, his favorite starlit, Joan Leslie, at the establishment. Through a comic circumstance, he is later the 1,000,000 soldier to walk through its doors such that he gets a dream date with the starlit of his choosing (Leslie again). His buddy and fellow soldier (Dane Clark) also gets to meet, and then date, someone who pretends to be an actress (Janis Page), but that actually just works at a studio.

During the course of this 2+ hour "story", several actors and actresses are seen as guest waiters, waitresses, and/or bartenders as well as performers of acts at the Canteen, doing little bits to entertain the soldiers and/or the moviegoer. John Garfield and Bette Davis, who evidently opened the facility, serve as its main host & hostess, respectively. Ida Lupino plays herself, and someone who soldier Clark tries to impress with his broken French, before he realizes she speaks it fluently. Joan Crawford, also playing herself, is someone Clark dances with before he asks her if anyone has told her that she looks just like ..., to which she responds "yes, my husband". Barbara Stanwyck plays a bartender the soldiers recognize. Jack Carson pokes fun at himself as one of the waiters who introduces the fellas around.

Eleanor Parker is someone that Hutton and Leslie run into on their date as she exits another nightclub. S. Z. Sakall is the waiter that lets everyone pinch his cheeks. Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet play two nefarious characters found in the club. The acts include Jimmy Dorsey's band, comedian Eddie Cantor, the Andrews Sisters, Roy Rogers with Trigger, Jack Benny with violin in a duel of sorts with maestro violinist Joseph Szigeti, and Dennis Morgan performing (singing), among others.

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