Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, September 29, 2016


STRIKE UP THE BAND (1940). Director: Busby Berkeley.

High school student Jimmy Connors (Mickey Rooney) has one passion: playing the drums in a band. Mary Holden (Judy Garland) has just one passion: Jimmy Connors. Mary can also sing quite well. Jimmy wants to take his band to Chicago to play on Paul Whiteman's radio show in a band competition, but where oh where can  he get the money for traveling expenses. Just when the money is raised, a dear friend, Willie (Larry Nunn), becomes seriously ill and needs an operation ... The sentiment is thick  but somehow never overbearing in this charming musical which boasts the talents of Rooney and Garland, both of whom are typically superb. Larry Nunn offers a highly appealing and sympathetic portrait of Willie, who has a hopeless crush on Mary and proposes -- at thirteen! William Tracy [Terry and the Pirates] and June Preisser [Judge Hardy and Son] play two more of the kids, most of whom look like they've been out of high school for quite a few years. The title tune was composed by Gershwin, but the other songs are by Freed and Edens, including the memorable "Our Love Affair," expertly warbled by Garland, and "I Ain't Got Nobody." (Garland's torch song, "The Curse of an Aching Heart," was cut.) Ann Shoemaker [Seventeen] plays Jimmy's mother, who has always wanted him to be a doctor. While Shoemaker is always good, in this she just seems to come on too strong and smothering.  Nunn was a very talented child actor but his film career only lasted eight years.

Verdict: Rooney and Garland in top form! ***.


angelman66 said...

Yes, this is one of their very best, and Mickey could indeed play the drums! This really does feature the pair at their zenith, can't wait to see this one again very soon!
- Chris

William said...

It's a lot of fun, tuneful, and very well-acted!