"This is the Army" is a musical comedy film made specifically as a morale booster during World War II. You can't help feeling emotional when he reunited with his old war buddies to do the 'Yip Yip Yaphank' number again. The picture book-ends it's story around two separate stage productions, starting with 'Yip, Yip, Yaphank' set in 1918, followed up by the 1943 'This is the Army' portion anchored by future President Ronald Reagan. It must have gone over well with wartime audiences, those on the home front waiting and worrying about loved ones abroad. The Times Herald-Record has learned the Black Knights hope to … In fact, the only times I've cringed were during the blackface "Mandy" number (though the dances-led by Gene Kelly's brother Fred-were enjoyable) and during the "Stage Door Canteen" sketch where we get lame banter of one man dressed as Lynn Fontaine and another as her husband Alfred Lunt, not to mention having another man impersonating European thespians praising the hamburger. By Matthew M. Peek, Military Collection Archivist, State Archives of North Carolina. All in all, this was a rousingly patriotic show that really delivered. The flag waving plot can safely be ignored. Robert Summerlin remained in the U.S. Army until being discharged from active service on October 17, 1945, after completing performances in Hawaii in the first half of October. He would go through dancing training at several Hollywood dance studios, and participated in amateur shows in Los Angeles. I know it has a all-male military-cast; but as have a Army Nurse Corp number. Although a dated period piece, this one is likely to win you over if you're a fan of patriotic old films. by. I also love the Air Corps number, "American Eagles/With My Head in the Clouds". Irving Berlin's story is being told by the character of Jerry Jones (George Murphy) who served his country during World War 1 by putting up a musical call 'Yip Yip Yaphank'. Unusual in that there is only one (tame) number with a female chorus line and three dance numbers with men in drag. The NPX, a National New Play Network program, is flipping the script on the ways in which new work is shared and discovered. Needed more of that. Annie Mark-Westfall - Lessons in Remembrance, When We Try to Understand Folktales as Part of History. This movie was produced as a fund-raiser and as a morale booster. USA.gov, The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration The play had been in England, Ireland, and Scotland, from October 20, 1943, when the cast left the United States for Liverpool, England, until the end of February and first of March 1944, when the play traveled to North Africa for a period in Algeria before Italy. The international tour of American songwriter Irving Berlin’s traveling U.S. Army play This Is The Army was performed from October 1943 through October 1945 … Then, in the first flush of its success, he agreed to extend the run until September 26. Originally, Berlin had expected the revue to play four weeks on Broadway. The whole Latin American dances seem out of place. Summerlin was inducted for active military service in the U.S. Army for World War II on May 7, 1942, at Fort McArthur, California. The film is based on that original Broadway play, but also includes a restaging of another show from 25 years earlier, during World War I. "This Time We Will All Make Certain" was a great song for the ending. I didn't mind it, but I thought women who served were under look in this movie. The comedy skit, after the first dance number was a little better. Though far from being great, this film has qualities that deserve the highest merit. Glue together by this plot, this movie is 2 hours of great variety of entertainment, from show-stopping tap dance numbers, an acrobatic number, and even magic tricks. We remember seeing the original This Is the army many years ago; this was fun to watch both because of the music and dancing and because it captured the patriotic fervor of the time; also there were parts I didn't remember seeing before, e.g. Also, I didn't like the dance number because it had little to do with the Army life. And the number "That's What the Well-Dressed Man in Harlem Will Wear" isn't all that offensive concerning the African-American performers though I don't think it really was necessary to have boxer Sgt. Essentially, two Irvin Berlin stage plays, "Yip, Yip, Yaphank," a 1917 stage production, and Berlin's successful 1942 Broadway play "This Is The Army," served as the basis for the film. George Murphy was amazing in the role. Robert Summerlin: A Dancer In Irving’s Court. The whole Canteen scene was a bit odd. I wish I knew more about the man who sang the song ''Mandy''. This is the type of musical that Hollywood did best and it sure was popular with the public. This Home Front musical stirred up controversy with scenes where active duty armed forces personnel cavorted in female apparel. | By the way, the sound on the VHS tape is better than on several of the DVD versions that are available. One thing to note especially is the song "Someday I'm going to murder the bugler" which is sung by Irving Berlin himself (wearing his own WWI uniform). Developed from the 1942 Broadway musical play and the 1943 Hollywood film of the same name, This Is The Army (abbreviated by the cast and crew as “TITA”) was initially designed to raise money for the war effort in the United States, and featured one of the most famous wartime songs of the 1940s “This Is The Army, Mister Jones.” TITA became the biggest and best-known morale-boosting show of World War II in the U.S. After the film of the same name came out in 1943, the plan for the traveling play — at first — was for the TITA company to play throughout England for three months, after which TITA would be disbanded for good. The play traveled with makeshift stages that they set up on numerous locations and U.S. military installations/camps. The musical "This Is The Army" qualifies as the most unusual war film that Warner Brothers produced. President Reagan and Joan Leslie have the most poignant moments in movie history as lovers being separated by the war. At the time it was filmed we were on the verge of losing the war and the public needed a patriotic lift. GEORGE MURPHY does a standout job as Reagan's show business father. Summerlin moved with his unit to Italy in November 1943 in the invasion of Italy. There are times when the background drama or stage productions sag. Organizationally, the play's cast and crew served during WWII in the U.S. Army as detached soldiers in the This Is The Army Detachment (Detachment number 0665-A). And finally, the army was making plans to send the show on a national tour. Ray Heindorf did an excellent job with the montages of music that are constantly heard throughout the picture. There's a family connection introduced as well, as Reagan's character, Johnny Jones, is the son of Jerry Jones (George Murphy), the original star of the earlier production. Summerlin was sent overseas to the European Theater, arriving in England on July 18, 1942. So what was rousing and exciting then to the folks at home now just seems rather dated and slow--though the film still does have very good production values. The play was in Italy from March through July 1944. | Summerlin was a member and dance instructor at the Hollywood Athletic Club for the two years before his military service. Claude Binyon came from my birthtown of Chicago, Ill. And when I first watched this, during the commercials, I switched to other channels and saw live coverage of President Reagan and his wife Nancy consoling various people on the death of loved ones. Of course the heart and soul of this movie is song and dance man extraordinaire George Murphy. I love how the show is nearly hijack by the US Navy. Robert Summerlin attended and graduated from Tarboro High School. | Jason Ferguson. A good quality is kinda rare. I know it came with the times where minstrel shows were popular, but gees "politically incorrect" right there. A brief history of Politics, Misogyny & Witchcraft: Primary Source: Lincoln’s National Emergency. With George Murphy, Joan Leslie, George Tobias, Alan Hale. Some critics hate it for being propaganda. The company reassembled at Camp Upton, New York, on September 5, 1943. | Wounded in the war, he becomes a producer. Some regular soldiers were attached to the unit to make it a legitimate military force. He was sent for training to Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, where he held the rank of Private. Joe Louis in this as he just punches a bag during it. But, on the whole, I found this film rather entertaining and inspiring, even 70 years later. In WWII his son Johnny Jones, who was before his father's assistant, gets the order to stage a new all-soldier show, called This is the Army. It was deem offending to them. My answer to that is yes, it is propaganda and so what. The cast was all-male, which required the men to dress as women in drag for the women sketches in the play. In WWI dancer Jerry Jones stages an all-soldier show on Broadway, called Yip Yip Yaphank. I love the music. At the time, Berlin needed replacements for parts of his cast of the traveling U.S. military play This Is The Army (TITA), and Summerlin joined the show in May 1944. I, for one, enjoy it a lot and have watched it a half-dozen times. 'This Is the Army' is a new musical in development; the backstage story of Irving Berlin's all-soldier World War II musical, also called 'This Is the Army'. Here's another one of those World War II movies designed to rally the nation and boost morale. A sub-plot running the movie was Johnny telling his sweetheart that they cannot marry until he returns, since he doesn't want to make her a widow, but they find themselves going against their feelings. I know US was trying to gain Latin America's countries support for the war effect at the time, but men in drags wasn't what Latin Americans wanted to see it. Since the movie is in the Public Domain, you can pretty much find it anywhere. Irving Berlin's This is the Army was a rousingly entertaining patriotic musical revue. Kate Smith is not the only personal celebrity to be in the film, as there are many others. Awards This Is The Army was the only full-integrated military unit in the U.S. Armed Forces during WWII, with African American men eating, performing, and traveling with their fellow white cast and crew members. The songs are not, perhaps, the best Irving Berlin ever wrote, but they speak of the era in which they were written. As a musical, this can't compare with the great Hollywood productions of the time and later. User Ratings It's a treat to hear Irving Berlin sing his own song "O How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning" with its original verse and chorus. I really can't love the "That's What the Well-Dressed Man in Harlem Will Wear" and 'Mandy' number, but it was well done. The song should be performed with a short introduction to permit all to stand, followed by the Verse, the Chorus, and the Refrain. FAQ At times, a few seconds of film seem to be either cut out of the film or just lost over time. William Harrell died in November 1912, leaving Mary as a widow. External Reviews Robert Wesley Summerlin was born on December 20, 1918, in the town of Pinetops in Edgecombe County, N.C., to Robert and Mary Emma Dupree Summerlin. It was released in the U.S. in August 1943 after a successful tour of the country of a stage play of the same title from 1942. An inside look of life during war time Americana. Still, it was a bit 'mess up' to see soldiers in black face doing musical numbers. Robert W. Summerlin died on August 13, 1993, in Greenville, N.C. You learn more about the WWII play This Is The Army Now by checking out Summerlin’s This Is The Army Collection (WWII 121) in the World War II Papers of the Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina.