Thursday, March 24, 2005

Stage Door Canteen

Stage Door Canteen. Benny Goodman and His Orchestra with Peggy Lee: "Why Don't You Do Right?" My favourite jazz sequence in the history of the cinema. Please click to enlarge the image!

Tähtien kanttiini / Den stora stjärnparaden. US © 1943 Principal Artists Productions. Commissioned by the American Theatre Wing. P: Sol Lesser. D: Frank Borzage. SC: Dalmer Daves. DP: Harry Wild. PD: Harry Horner. Musical director: C. Bakaleinikoff. Originally 131 min.
    A Manbeck Pictures Corporation abridged 16 mm version 88 min.
    Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 24 March 2005.

Of the 65 stars and 6 orchestras I spotted:
1. Ed Wynn, hat check
2. William Demarest, waiter
3. PERF: Edgar Bergen, Charlie McCarthy, Mortimer
4. PERF: Gracie Fields: "The Machine Gun Song", "The Lord's Prayer"
5. Ray Bolger, waiter, and later, PERF: "The Girl I Love To Leave Behind"
6. PERF: Guy Lombardo and His Orchestra: "A Rookie And His Rhythm", "Sleep, Baby, Sleep In Your Jeep"
7.-9. Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne washing dishes, with Johnny Weissmuller
10. George Jessel on the phone
11. PERF: Ethel Merman: "Marching Through Berlin"
12. PERF: Xavier Cugat and His Orchestra with Lina Romay: "Bombshell From Brooklyn"
13. PERF: Harpo Marx plays the harp
14. Judith Anderson, hostess
15. Tallulah Bankhead, hostess
"Good Night, Sweetheart": male singer and orchestra
16. Paul Muni taking a break
17. PERF: Gypsy Rose Lee: a comically frustrating strip-tease: takes all her underwear off, leaves everything else on
18. Ned Sparks
19. PERF: Freddy Martin and His Orchestra: "Don't Worry Island"?
20. PERF: Merle Oberon announces a greeting to the Chinese
21. PERF: Lanny Ross: "We Mustn't Say Goodbye"
22. PERF: Benny Goodman and His Orchestra with Peggy Lee: "Why Don't You Do Right?" the highlight of the film followed by a brilliant instrumental performance by the band
23. PERF: Yehudi Menuhin: "The Flight Of The Bumble Bee" (Rimsky-Korsakov)
24. Katharine Hepburn meets the female protagonists and later, in the end, gives the rousing final speech
25. Virginia Grey

Benny Goodman and Peggy Lee give a brilliant performance, deservedly the anthology piece of this film. Gypsy Rose Lee and Katharine Hepburn are also very good. Is there a Borzage touch in this abridged version? Certainly in the sequence of the "forbidden encounter" on the roof. Strictly for fans of the American musical, revue, variety and show business.

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