Stage Door Canteen (June 24, 1943)
Released on June 24, 1943: All of the stars of Broadway and Hollywood join in this star spangled tribute to the fighting boys of World War II in this romantic musical comedy.
Produced by Frank Borzage and Sol Lesser
Directed by Frank Borzage
Written by Delmer Daves
The Actors: Judith Anderson (herself), Kenny Baker (himself), Tallulah Bankhead (herself), Ralph Bellamy (himself), Edgar Bergen (himself), Ray Bolger (himself), Ina Claire (herself), Katharine Cornell (herself), Gracie Fields (herself), Lynn Fontanne (herself), Helen Hayes (herself), Katharine Hepburn (herself), Hugh Herbert (himself), Jean Hersholt (himself), George Jessel (himself), Gypsy Rose Lee (herself), Alfred Lunt (himself), Harpo Marx (himself), Elsa Maxwell (herself), Yehudi Menuhin (himself), Ethel Merman (herself), Paul Muni (himself), Merle Oberon (herself), George Raft (himself), Lanny Ross (himself), Martha Scott (herself), Ethel Waters (herself), Johnny Weissmuller (himself), Ed Wynn (himself), Henry Armetta (himself), Benny Baker (himself), Helen Broderick (herself), Lloyd Corrigan (himself), Jane Darwell (herself), William Demarest (himself), Virginia Field (herself), Vinton Freedley (himself), Ann Gillis (herself), Lucile Gleason (herself), Vera Gordon (herself), Virginia Grey (herself), Sam Jaffe (himself), Allen Jenkins (himself), Roscoe Karns (himself), Tom Kennedy (himself), Otto Kruger (himself), June Lang (herself), Betty Lawford (herself), Bert Lytell (himself), Aline MacMahon (herself), Horace McMahon (himself), Helen Menken (herself), Peggy Moran (herself), Ralph Morgan (himself), Alan Mowbray (himself), Elliott Nugent (himself), Patrick O'Moore (the Australian), Franklin Pangborn (himself), Helen Parrish (herself), Brock Pemberton (himself), Selena Royle (herself), Marion Shockley (Lillian), Cornelia Otis Skinner (herself), Ned Sparks (himself), Bill Stern (himself), Arleen Whelan (herself), Dame May Whitty (herself), Count Basie (himself, orchestra leader), Xavier Cugat (himself, orchestra leader), Benny Goodman (himself, orchestra leader), Guy Lombardo Orchestra (themselves), Freddy Martin Orchestra (themselves), Cheryl Walker (Eileen Burke), William Terry (Dakota Smith), Marjorie Riordan (Jean), Lon McCallister (California Jack Gilman), Margaret Early (Ella Sue), Sunset Carson (Tex), Dorothea Kent (Mamie, Jersey's girl), Frederick Brady (Jersey Wallace), Kay Kyser Band (themselves), Count Basie and his Orchestra (themselves), Benny Goodman Orchestra (themselves), Xavier Cugat and his Orchestra (themselves), Harry Babbitt (singer with Kay Kyser Band), Dave Barbour (himself), Julie Conway (singer, Kay Kyser Band), Jane Cowl (herself), Helen Dumas (unknown), Trudy Erwin (singer, Kay Kyser Band), Dorothy Fields (herself), Pat Flaherty (dubious Army Sergeant), Arlene Francis (herself), Mack Gray (waiter), George E. Green (himself, member Freddy Martin Orchestra), Eddie Hall (soldier on train), Louis Jean Heydt (Captain Robinson), John James (Don Brandt, Marine with Virginia Grey), Virginia Kaye (herself), Kenner G. Kemp (Marine), Jack Lambert (Sailor cutting in to dance with Ina Claire), Gertrude Lawrence (herself), Peggy Lee (singer with Benny Goodman Orchestra), Jack Martin (singer with Kay Kyser Band), Sully Mason (singer with Kay Kyser Band), George Mathews (Marine Sergeant with Ray Bolger), Marian Moore (unknown), Elizabeth Morgan (unknown), Caleb Peterson (Johnny Jones), Francis Pierlot (minister at Jersey's wedding), Ruth Roman (unknown), Lina Romay (singer, Xavier Cugat Orchestra), Johnny Roventini (Johnny, bellhop 'living trademark' for Philip Morris Cigarettes), Arthur Walsh (soldier jitterbugging), Jesse White (himself), Max Williams (singer, Kay Kyser Band), Matt Willis (Sergeant on train).
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Actors, Actresses and Soldier Boys
World War II was probably the defining event of the twentieth century for this old ball of mud we call 'earth.' Everything back then was very clear cut . . . very black and white. We knew exactly who the good guys were and who the bad guys were, and the U.S., Canada, England, Australia, Russia and our other Allies were united with one goal - win that war at any cost.
In Hollywood actors got together and created a military canteen/nightclub open only to men in uniform - a lively and raucous night club for soldiers to blow off steam and enjoy a bit of night life before heading off to war.
Soon there were similar nightclubs in New York and Washington, with movie stars, directors, Broadway performers, and even the most famous 'exotic dancer' of the day, Gypsy Rose Lee, volunteering their time and money to entertain and serve the troops.
In the Washington, D.C. canteen, Senators and Congressmen from across the nation waited on tables and washed dishes to keep the nightclub staffed for the boys about to face the meanest war the world had seen up until that time.
This movie is about the canteen in New York City, and features more stage and screen performers than you can count without taking your shoes off. The Broadway and Hollywood performers worked without pay to make this film, just as they were working without pay in the real Stage Door Canteen every day. In fact, to produce this movie the producers rented a large space near the real nightclub to film in, because the real Stage Door Canteen was always too crowded with real soldiers getting ready to head for Europe.
The performers would work and perform in the real canteen all night, then go over to the film location and film this movie during the day time. Wow. Count me impressed. This movie is over two hours long, but it will fly by in what seems like only a moment as we watch some of the best actors and performers of 1943 put on a star-spangled review for the boys getting ready to join the biggest war the world has ever seen. And I'm betting that 'California,' a young boy who has never been kissed by a girl will get that kiss before he heads off to face death, even if it is against the rules. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.
Alan Mowbray waiting on tables at the Stage Door Canteen
Benny Goodman, with Peggy Lee singing
Benny Goodman playing the clarinet
Bert Lytell, Master of Ceremonies at the Stage Door Canteen
Edger Bergen with his ventriloquist dummy Charlie McCarthy
Dame May Whitty, 1943
Dame May Whitty talks to a soldier heading off to war
Vaudeville comedian Ed Wynn entertains soldiers at the Stage Door Canteen in 1943
Ethel Merman sings at the Stage Door Canteen
Ethel Waters sings with the Count Basie Orchestra
Franklin Pangborn and Johnny Weissmuller wash dishes at the Stage Door Canteen
Freddie Martin and His Orchestra
George Jesssel calling his mother
George Jessel in 1943
Guy Lombardo and His Orchestra
Gypsy Rose Lee removing her stocking
Gypsy Rose Lee in 1943
Helen Hayes greeting sailors at the Stage Door Canteen
Judith Anderson meeting a soldier and his date
Katharine Hepburn comforts Marjorie Riordan
Katharine Hepburn in 1943
Kay Kyser and His Orchestra
Lanny Ross singing to the troops
Louis Jean Heydt
Lynn Fontanne in 1943
Marjorie Riordan in Stage Door Canteen
Merle Oberon and Dame May Whitty
Paul Muni in 1943
Sam Jaffe with Russian Sailors
Selena Royle and Katharine Hepburn
A soldier recognizes Ray Bolger
Tallulah Bankhead talks with a soldier and his date
Tallulah Bankhead, 1943
Tom Kennedy waiting on tables
William Demarest talks to Cheryl Walker
William Terry and Lon McCallister
Xavier Cougat, 1943
Xavier Cugat speaks to the soldiers
Yehudi Menuhin playing the violin