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  • Eddie Bracken is in the Navy. His dad (Victor Moore--aka Bronco Billy) is a guard at Paramount but has told him he is head of the studio. His girl (Betty Hutton who he has never met) does her part to keep the deception going. When Eddie gets shore leave with his buddies they naturally want to go to the studio and then the fun begins as the attempts at keeping the deception going get more involved and intricate up to the point where dad agrees to hold a show for the whole ship.

    No question that this movie was to be patriotic and to showcase Paramount stars. This is a good vehicle for it. You get a chance to glimpse studio life in its' various forms and to see many stars of the time perform brief numbers. Yet the stars don't overwhelm the story.

    Some very funny scenes such as when Betty wants to get into the studio by climbing over a wall and during the show for the ship's men there is an absolutely hilarious sketch with men showing how women act when they get together for an evening of playing cards. There is also a great sketch where Bob Hope is trying to hide from William Bendix and he has to do it while Bendix is taking a shower with Bob in the shower with him! A nice light-hearted movie with good entertainment.
  • A potpourri of star turns lift the charming but silly plot above itself. Worth seeing for the Dick Powell/Mary Martin number alone. I kept backing the tape up and watching this part again and again. Why Martin wasn't a greater Hollywood star is a mystery to me, but H'wood's loss was B'way's gain. Many other nice things to see, but I have a feeling some numbers were cut from the final print. Wonder what they were?
  • Betty Hutton, one of the nominal stars of Star Spangled Rhythm, was not just doing it for defense as in her number, but the whole studio was doing this All Star flag waver for the defense of the morale of the USA.

    I can never resist one of these all star spectaculars and there's only one I would ever have given a bad review to, and this isn't the one. Everybody working on the Paramount lot got to do his bit for defense in this film, some bits being longer than others.

    The nominal plot of this film has Betty Hutton as a switchboard girl at Paramount studios and Victor Moore, a former silent western star, now working as a security guard at the studio trying to convince Eddie Bracken and a bunch of his sailor buddies that Moore is really the head of the studio. For that they have to con and bamboozle Walter Abel who is a real studio executive out of his office and off the lot so they can do their masquerade uninterrupted.

    Of course Bracken asks the inevitable, pop can you get all these stars down for a big Navy show, and the con has to continue. But all of this nonsense is just an excuse for some musical and comedy numbers by the Paramount players.

    Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer wrote the score and out of it came two really big standards, That Old Black Magic which was nominated for Best Song that year, but lost to another Paramount film song, White Christmas and Hit the Road to Dreamland.

    The latter was done as director Preston Sturges was playing himself and screening a musical number from his latest film. As the projector rolls on screen it's Dick Powell and Mary Martin on a Pullman car singing about finally hitting the hay after some romance. The scene is so well done I wish it was included as an integral part of a real film.

    That Old Black Magic is sung by Johnny Johnson and danced by ballet star Vera Zorina. It was enormous hit that year, recorded by a flock of singers. Oddly enough not by Bing Crosby though he got to sing it in another film, Here Come the Waves.

    Of course the finale is a wartime flag waving number with Bing Crosby singing Old Glory about the flag and the wonders of the country behind it. The number about the flag probably wouldn't fly today still and that's a pity.

    It's even more of a pity that these musical extravaganzas are a thing of the past with the decline of the Hollywood studio system. Star Spangled Rhythm is one of the best of its kind.
  • dexter-107 February 2001
    At best, 1942 was a year of confusion because of World War Two. Perhaps that is why the movie is uneven. The movie was released before the first anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor which drew the United States into the war as a legal active participant. The purpose of this film seems two-fold: to entertain in time of war and to provide Paramount with a opportunity to do its part in the war effort in public. There are some extraordinary scenes, such as the dance number in the aircraft plant and Betty Hutton's singing during a jeep ride. In general, however, the movie promises more than it delivers, and the scene with Bing Crosby singing of "Old Glory" in front of Mount Rushmore (with a patriotic chorus) is simply too jingoistic. One bright result is the Bracken-Hutton screen relationship in this movie which blossomed into very good comedy in a later film, "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek."
  • A security guard (Victor Moore) has been telling his son (Eddie Bracken) in letters that he's the head of Paramount. Now the son is home on shore leave from the Navy and the dad wants to keep him from finding out the truth. So he gets help from a studio switchboard operator (Betty Hutton) who is in love with his son. Together they hatch a plan to have the father impersonate the studio head during the son's visit.

    Most of the studios during WW2 made one of these all-star films, usually with a flimsy plot and lots of musical numbers. They're all great fun and this is one of the best. Betty Hutton is just the most adorable person ever. I could watch her read the phone book for an entire movie. Eddie Bracken and Victor Moore are wonderful, too. The real treat with this, and other films like it, is for classic film fans to eat up all of the movie star comedy and musical numbers. The stars include Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Ray Milland, Veronica Lake, Paulette Goddard, Fred MacMurray, Dorothy Lamour, Dick Powell, Cecil B. Demille, Alan Ladd, and many more. Oh, and she's not the biggest star in this one, but wait 'til you get a load of Dona Drake! Hubba hubba! Have mercy! Makes me wish I had a time machine. This movie's just sheer fun from start to finish. If this doesn't make you smile, you're dead inside!
  • tedg9 January 2005
    Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the US mobilized unlike any society before or since.

    A large part of that was because of a very cooperative media, especially the new medium of movies. The White House asked them to rush some feel-good films into production and this was paramount's first response. It is a collection of skits wrapped in a thin story. Most of the skit material is in the form of a "show" for sailors, but many of them inexplicably use cinematic conventions that couldn't be staged.

    Because this was stitched together so quickly, it is of widely varying tone and quality. I suppose the parts you like will depend on who you are.

    There's a pretty big, lush production number (ostensibly a movie being shot that some sailors visit) that has atypically svelte and acrobatic girls. Later, there's a number where black straight man Rochester dances pretty well.

    So far as comedy, there are two classic scenes here that made this enjoyable for me: This was Betty Hutton's first big role and she does Lucy better than Lucy I think. One scene is a hilarious attempt to climb over a wall with the aid of two men. It's amazingly physical, worthy of Keaton. Check her out in "Perils of Pauline," also directed by Marshall, who seems to have understood her.

    The other comic bit worth seeing is Bob Hope trapped in a shower with William Bendix, and avoiding being discovered. Hope's not a great comic, in fact he falls flat elsewhere in this project. But this one skit is perfect for him.

    Preston Sturges is one of the main figures in folded films (films about film), and he plays himself here, screening a film.

    Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
  • In the 1930s and 40s, most of the major studios made films that featured a variety show, of sorts, with the contract stars. MGM struck gold with this in the early sound film "The Hollywood Review of 1929" and this film set the stage for quite a few followup films. This sort of film became especially popular during WWII, as these films were often sent overseas to entertain the troops--such as "Hollywood Canteen" and "Star Spangled Rhythm". "Star Spangled Rhythm" is a tad different in that there is more plot than many of these films. In other words, it's not just a variety show and this really doesn't begin until the film is at the half-way point.

    The film begins as a sailor (Eddie Bracken) convinces a group of his friends on shore leave to come with him to Paramount Studios, as his father is head of production! However, his dad (Victor Moore) is NOT the boss but a lowly security guard on the lot. Now wanting to get caught, Moore and Betty Hutton (who plays Bracken's VERY energetic girlfriend) work together to convince the sailors (and a Marine they picked up along the way) that Moore indeed is the big kahuna! For me, this is the best part of the film, as the plot is pretty cute and gets funny when the real head of production walks into the middle of this--and thinks he's been replaced! Unfortunately for Moore, the boss finally does realize what's been happening and it looks as if the plan is about to fall apart. However, through some further finagling, Moore and Hutton are able to arrange a show for the servicemen to convince the fellas that nothing is up....that Moore IS a big-shot.

    As far as the variety show goes, there are no major surprises but it's nice to see the actors and actresses play themselves in a series of nice cameos. What I actually struck me most about this was how incredibly short Dorothy Lamour, Veronica Lake (I did know she was 'diminutive') and Paulette Goddard were, as they were towered over by the other actresses in the first scene of the variety show. Not surprisingly, the three later sang a number together. In addition to these women, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Ray Milland, Franchot Tone, Fred MacMurray and many others were on hand for the show.

    In addition to the show, you also get to see some stars walking around the studio lot. A few of these cameos are bizarre--and wonderful for cinephiles like myself. You get a rare role for Cecil B. DeMille and Preston Sturgis as themselves. Plus, in addition to seeing Bing Crosby walking about the lot, his son Gary is with him. I liked this very contrived "behind the scenes" look of the film. Sure, you know this is all for a fictional film, but it's pretty cool if you're into old films like me.

    Overall, while not all the variety acts work well, many do. Plus the story that ties them all together is very good. The film may bore some (especially those who know nothing of the classic era in Hollywood), but is a treat for any 1940s film buff.

    By the way, although the show is supposed to be done on stage live in front of the sailors, it's very, very obvious many of the acts were performed on a sound stage--with sound stage sets. Just suspend your sense of disbelief at these moments or they might just make your brain hurt! After all, the shower scene is obviously NOT done in front of the men but it is quite funny!
  • Anyone who considers himself an old movie buff must see this film. It is a time capsule of Paramount in 1942. All the studio's great stars, including Susan Hayworth, Fred MacMurray, Bob Hope. and others participate in this film. Unfortunately, some of the big stars of that time are no longer known today and the surprise of seeing them do certain numbers no longer amaze contemporary audiences as would have happened in 1942. There are some priceless vaudeville skits (such as Betty Hutton trying to get over a studio wall) that are real classics. The ending of the movie is a grand patriotic number sung by Bing Crosby as he asks Americans what this country means to them. It is too bad that today's movies don't do a little reminder like that about the glories of our country.
  • The main reason for seeing this morale-boosting film, released in the midst of WWII, is to see the antics of Betty Hutton. She was more fun than all the rest of the Paramount stars put together. The best female film clown until Lucie Ricardo(Ball)replaced her in the '50s. She was the ultimate bubbly cute blonde bombshell, in only her second feature-length film. As in her first film: "The Fleet's In", she was largely paired with comedian-straight man Eddie Bracken, a trend that would continue in several additional films. She's way down on the billing list at this site, but she dominated the first half of the film, along with Eddie, and Victor Moore, who played Eddie's father. Most of the other stars were crammed into the second half of the film.

    There is a dramatic side to the show. Eddie Bracken played a serviceman who is on leave in Hollywood to see his father, who claimed to have been promoted to head of production, and to see his pen pal girlfriend(Betty). The problem is that Eddie's father actually is just a security guard at the studio. Thus, the challenge is to keep this knowledge from Eddie's buddies, and to keep the real production chief(played by Walter Able) away from his office until Eddie and his buddies go back to their ship. Of course, this leads to many comedic situations.

    All the music was composed by Harold Arlen, with lyricist Johnny Mercer. The only "keeper" was "That Old Black Magic", which was released as a single by several singers around the same time, as well as in later years. Vera Zorina danced to it, while Johnny Johnston sang it. "Hit the Road to Dreamland " was sung by Mary Martin and Dick Powell. Betty Hutton sings "I'm Doing it for Defense. 'Rochester' Anderson led a group of African Americans in singing and dancing to "Sharp as a Tack". Marjorie Reynolds and others sang "On the Swing Shift". Paulette Goddard, Dorothy Lamour and Veronica Lake(dubbed) sang and danced to "A Sweater, a Sarong, and a Peek-a-Boo Bang", followed by 3 men made up as caricatures of the women, who also sang and danced to it. Bing Crosby finished with the patriotic "Old Glory". There were a number of non-musical skits, as well, including the shower scene, with William Bendix and Bob Hope: the latter also serving as master of ceremonies, for about the last half of the film. "If Men Played Cards as Women Do", with 4 stars, fell flat for me.

    Although this was shot in B&W, occasionally, a rainbow of colors is seen, due to differential refraction of the light from microstructures. This is especially evident in Betty's dress in the 'climbing the wall' skit, and in Vera Zorenas's dress in the "That Old Black Magic" dance. I haven't noticed such in any other B&W film.
  • Pretty much this is Paramount's contribution to the war effort in 1942. Plot basically sees Victor Moore as Pop, who by way of some deceit has to keep up the pretence to his sailor son Johnny Webster (Eddie Bracken) that he is head of the studio, when in fact he is just a gatekeeper there. As Johnny and his sailor pals make their way to the studio, Pop, aided by switchboard operator Polly Judson (Betty Hutton), sets about putting on a all star show for the boys. Cue sketches and variety turns by a ream of Paramount performers. Some of the situ comedy works, such as Bob Hope in the shower with William Bendix and Hutton trying to scale a wall aided by two bendy blokes, other moments, however, fall a little flat. But when the froth is war-oriented or the stars are poking fun at themselves, it scores well and the musical numbers are never less than pleasant.

    Good old time cinema while it's also fun to play spot the star. 7/10
  • Paramount produced a cavalcade of stars in this traditional World War 11 patriotic film dealing with the situations that ensue when an attendant at Paramount Studios tries to impress his navy son by claiming that he is a studio mogul.

    Naturally, this evolves into situations too numerous to speak of here.

    Victor Moore is the father and Eddie Bracken stars as the son. Bette Hutton is marvelous as Bracken's girlfriend and the ensemble cast at Paramount are terrific when putting on a show for the navy.

    You have to feel for Walter Abel, a mogul who is victimized in the scheme of Hutton and Moore.

    Add 1/2* for Bing Crosby's patriotic song ending.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This all-star package of entertainment from Paramount retains the anarchic, anything-goes spirit of the studio's earlier "Big Broadcast" films, and has the same (intentional) complete disregard for realism, as well (they put on a show like that in a matter of a few hours??). Betty Hutton attacks her role (and her fiancé) voraciously; the first singer in the "Swing Shift" number is very provocatively dressed for 1942 (and has a great body); the "Doin' It For Defense" song has a most unusual slapstick-action visual accompaniment; famous directors Cecil B De Mille and Preston Sturges prove adept at acting; there is an imaginative dance sequence featuring Vera Zorina. But there are also a lot of bad jokes by Bob Hope, a few overextended comedy routines, and a then-uplifting, now-gag-inducing flag-waving (literally) ending. **1/2 out of 4.
  • Any film which features a star trio of Paulette Goddard, Dorothy Lamour and Veronica Lake warbling "A Sweater, A Sarong and A Peek-A-Boo Bang" has got to be OK with me! The women are singing about themselves of course, Lamour having made a career out of appearing in tropical island movies, and petite Lake distinguished by a fall of blonde hair that covered about a third of her face (which during the war she was requested to put in a hair net to set an example for women called to work with machinery).

    During the darkest days of WWII, each studio made an effort to release an all-star entertainment package to let both the public and the troops know Hollywood was Doing Its Part, and "Star-Spangled Rhythm," like "Hollywood Canteen" and" Stage Door Canteen"and "Follow The Boys," was one of those.

    The film's exceedingly slender plot concerns Betty Hutton passionate for meek sailor Eddie Bracken, merely an excuse for Bob and Bing, Dorothy Lamour, Alan Ladd and numerous others to strut their stuff in patriotic material or comic skits like "If Men Played Cards As Women Do," a risible exercise in stereotyped humor by today's standards of sex role.

    To anyone largely unfamiliar with Paramount stars of the period, a good deal of this may look fairly silly, but there are still some funny moments, as when Bob Hope tries to hide in a shower from Jerry Colonna, or Hutton attempts to get over a wall with some military help. Other moments, like Bing warbling "Old Glory" with waving flags and Mount Rushmore behind him are perhaps a wee bit over the top for today's less patriotic world. To those who are familiar with these folks, I'd set aside a long Sunday, get plenty of popcorn, and watch two or three of these Stars of Parade extravaganzas just for fun!
  • absolutely loved this movie. paramount is my favorite studio and to see all the stars in this film had me at the edge of my seat. its not an academy award film...but it is pure escapism and relaxing to watch. the music score...priceless. watch Paulette Goddard veronica lake and Dorothy L'Amour as they strut their stuff and mock their trademarks only to see sterling Holloway and 2 other guys imitating them. hilarious. you can also see Ellen drew...Walter Abel and many other stars in secondary roles. the movie is fast paced....well presented and really funny for now and for its time. i didn't live the forties but its my favorite era. had i lived then i WOULD HAVE MARRIED PAULETTE GODDARD.
  • Sailor Johnny Webster (Eddie Bracken) and his pals are on shore leave in California. Johnny's dad Pop (Victor Moore) is the head of Paramount Pictures, which is also where Johnny's girlfriend Polly (Betty Hutton) works. Only Polly and Pop have been lying to Johnny, as Pop is only a lowly guard at the front gate. They decide to try and continue with the ruse, which results in comic hi-jinks as they try to avoid the real studio chief Mr. DeSoto (Walter Abel). This all leads up to a big show put on by the stars of Paramount for the Navy boys.

    As corny, frivolous, and plotless as these all-star wartime crowd-pleasers are, I still like them. Maybe it's the upbeat attitude, the stars goofing around, or the rapid pacing, I'm not sure, but they seldom fail to leave a smile on my face. Having Betty Hutton and Eddie Bracken as the leads in the main "story" doesn't hurt, either, as they are both manic and funny. One of the aspects of this particular extravaganza that stood out for me were the lovely ladies in energetic dance numbers.. Paramount kept this one in theaters longer than usual, and it ended up being one of the top ten hits of the year. It also nabbed Oscar nominations for Best Score (Robert Emmett Dolan) and Best Song ("That Old Black Magic").
  • Bing Crosby heads a Hollywood cast of "more stars than there are in the flag," as they sing and dance for the morale of the nation during the Second World War. You get to hear an awful lot of songs in the process: "That Old Black Magic" and "Hit the Road to Dreamland" (sung by Dick Powell and Mary Martin, with the Golden Gate Quartet). Making appearances are the familiar faces of Betty Hutton, Dorothy Lamour, Veronica Lake, Paulette Goddard, Fred MacMurray, and Bob Hope doing an early stint entertaining the troops, a practice that became his hallmark through subsequent wars. Studio executives such as Cecil B. DeMille appear as themselves, and the corny plot and situations give some real insight into the mindset of the viewing public at the time, A musical time capsule. ---from Musicals on the Silver Screen, American Library Association, 2013
  • Victor Moore, whose voice will worm his way into anyone's heart, is a lowly security guard at Paramount Studios. His son is in the Navy and is under the impression his dad has been promoted to Vice President, so when he gets on leave, Victor has to think fast to keep up the charade. Luckily, he's got a friend in the secretarial department, Betty Hutton, and she comes up with a genius scheme to fool the boys. She impersonates several different secretaries on the phone and manages to get the real VP, Walter Abel, banned from the studio lot so Victor can take his place in the office! Poor Walter-but his scenes are absolutely hilarious. If the entire movie was this part of the plot, it would be great.

    Unfortunately, the rest of the movie is chalk-full of lousy songs and skits to entertain the soldiers. This one of those variety shows that brought dozens of stars together to entertain the troops. Most of these types of movies aren't very good, and while this one is definitely at the top end, the songs are terrible and the variety show that gets put on during the last half-hour of the film is incredibly boring. Still, if you watch this one, you'll get to split your sides laughing at Victor Moore and Walter Abel's antics. You'll also get to see Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Fred MacMurray, Cecil B. DeMille, Preston Sturges, Veronica Lake, Dorothy Lamour, Franchot Tone, Paulette Goddard, William Bendix, Alan Ladd, Ray Milland, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Arthur Treacher, Sterling Holloway, Vera Zorina, Mary Martin, Jerry Colonna, Macdonald Carey, Marjorie Reynolds, and Susan Hayward for about five minutes each.

    To be fair, not every number in this movie is terrible. There's a hilarious sketch entitled "If Men Played Cards Like Women" during which Franchot Tone, Fred MacMurray, Ray Milland, and Lynne Overman recite female dialogue with straight faces. For example, Franchot leaves to get Ray a glass of water, and immediately after he's gone, the other three lean in to each other. "I wanted to get that water myself," Ray says, "I'm just dying to get a look at his new kitchen." "If it's anything like his bathroom, it's a mess," Fred concludes. They end the skit by all jumping on their chairs in fear of a mouse. In a mostly silent skit, Bob Hope hides from William Bendix in the shower so William doesn't suspect Bob of having an affair with his wife. "This woman is as honest as the day is long," Bob maintains. Jerry Colonna pops out of the closet and says, "It was a short day, wasn't it?"
  • The film meant well. The film is about an American soldier who believed his father was the major studio head but was actually a security guard there. Betty Hutton plays the girlfriend that he never met. Eddie Bracken played the sailor. Several cameos like Bob Hope and others fill the void in the story about entertaining the troops.