This Is the Army

From Academic Kids

This Is the Army is a 1943 American motion picture produced by Hal B. Wallis and Jack L. Warner, and directed by Michael Curtiz. The story and original music were written by Irving Berlin. A wartime musical designed to boost morale in the U.S. during World War II, it features a large ensemble cast, including George Murphy, Joan Leslie, Alan Hale, and Ronald Reagan.


The story follows the life of Jerry Jones (Murphy) and his son Johnny (Reagan) over the course of two wars. In the beginning of the movie, Jones is a professional dancer drafted into the Army during World War I. At the request of his commanding officer, and against the grudging opposition of his cantankerous drill instructor Sgt. McGee (Hale), Jones produces a patriotic musical revue called Yip Yip Yaphank with music by Irving Berlin. The second part of the movie follows his son (Reagan) who is charged with undertaking a similar but grander production to inspire troops in World War II. The explicitly stated message of the movie is that the purpose of United States involvement in World War II is to fulfill the unfinished result of the previous war. The title of the movie is from the well-known Berlin song that is featured in the movie, which is also the title of the musical-within-a-movie staged by the younger Jones.

The movie features appearances by Irving Berlin, Kate Smith, and Joe Louis as themselves. Smith's full-length rendition of Berlin's "God Bless America" is arguably the most famous cinematic rendition of the piece. Louis appears in a revue piece called "The Well-Dressed Man in Harlem" with other black entertainers, the only revue piece that includes African-Americans (the U.S. armed forces were segregated during World War II).

The revue pieces also include acrobat routines, several comedy pieces, including one with Hale in drag, and tributes to the Navy and the Air Corps.

The movie can be viewed in many ways as forerunner of the 1954 movie White Christmas, which also used Berlin's music and featured many similar sketches and scenes, including songs praising Army life and the dramatic marching of soldiers through a theater.

Although the core of the movie consists of the musical numbers, the movie also contains a veneer of a plot involving the wartime love interests of both the father and the son.

Plot summary

In World War I, the musical Yip Yip Yaphank is a rousing success. During the show, it is learned that the troop has received its orders to ship off to France, and thus the ending number is changed so that the soldiers march through the theater with their rifles and gear and out into the waiting convoy trucks. Jones kisses his new bride on the way down the aisle.

In the war, several of the soldiers in the production are killed. Jones is injured by a bomb blast and loses the full use of one of his legs, ending his career as dancer. Nevertheless he is resolved to find something useful to do. Sgt. McKee and the bugler also survive.

Twenty-five years later, with World War II raging in Europe, Jones' son Johnny is drafted into the war. He tells his sweetheart that they cannot marry until he returns, since he doesn't want to make her widow. He grudgingly accepts the order to stage another musical, just as his father did. The show goes on tour around the United States and eventually plays in front of President Roosevelt (unseen) in Washington, D.C.. During the show, it is announced that the Washington, D.C. performance will be the last night, and that afterwards the soldiers in the production will be ordered back to their combat units.

Johnny's erstwhile fiancé, who has since joined the Red Cross auxillary, appears at the show. During a break in the show, she brings a minister and convinces them that they should marry -- which they do, in the alley behind the theater, with their fathers as witnesses.

External link

  • IMDb entry (

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