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

Friday, October 13, 2017


Davis, Leslie, Garfield and Hutton
HOLLYWOOD CANTEEN (1944). Director: Delmer Daves.

Corporal Slim Green (Robert Hutton) and his buddy Sergeant Nowland (Dane Clark) are on leave in LA when they drop by the Hollywood Canteen. The canteen was started by Bette Davis and John Garfield, and both stars play a prominent role in the film, which is basically built around Slim wanting to meet actress Joan Leslie, playing herself, and the romance that ensues. During this, a number of stars either appear or do numbers. Among the highlights: Dennis Morgan and Joe E. Brown sing "You Can Always Tell a Yank;" The Andrews Sisters perform "We're Getting Corns for Our Country;" Jack Benny and Joseph Szigeti have a comical duel of violins; Joan McCracken does a jazz ballet production number; a Spanish dance number from Rosario and Antonio; and Kitty Carlisle singing "Sweet Dreams, Sweetheart." Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet have an amusing cameo, and there are lots of guest appearances by a host of stars, some of whom you may miss if you blink (Eleanor Parker, for instance). Davis and Garfield are wonderful playing themselves; Dane Clark has an affecting moment when his character realizes that he no longer needs to use his cane; and Robert Hutton is excellent as the shy, sensitive small-town fellow who develops quite a crush on Leslie, who gives a winning performance as well. Zachary Scott and Barbara Stanwyck have notable cameos, and Janis Paige makes a decided impression as a studio messenger who pretends to be an actress. Corporal Green addresses his fellow fighting men and allies at one point, and mentions "our own colored boys" as it flashes to a shot of several black soldiers. Good. Although Hutton never became a major star (this was his fourth picture) he did amass 90 credits in his long career. However, the one single actor who has the most sheer presence in the two hour film is the formidable Joan Crawford.

Verdict: Entertaining, and ultimately quite moving. ***.


angelman66 said...

I like this one a lot, too, Bill. Has been years. Have you ever seen a similar film called Stage Door Canteen? That one had a lot of guest stars in it too. I always get the two mixed up because they were played back to back as a double feature. Now I can't keep track of which star appeared in which film...

William said...

Yeah, Stage Door Canteen was another one, this time set in New York, and with Kate Hepburn and everyone from Judith Anderson to Tallulah Bankhead! Then there was "Thank Your Lucky Stars" wherein, I believe, Bette Davis sang "They're either too young or too old!"