Saturday, September 07, 2002


This is a wartime variety-show musical loosely based on the real-life USO experiences of the main actresses: Kay Francis, Carole Landis, Martha Raye, and a dancer named Mitzi Mayfair who I had never heard of before I saw this film. The four, who all play themselves, go from doing a USO radio show in the States to traveling to England to play for the soldiers, then volunteering to head out to North Africa in the middle of some real action (where it threatens to become a bland variation on CRY HAVOC). I understand that the plot is basically an excuse for the musical numbers, but the numbers are nothing to write home about, except for Martha Raye singing a swing novelty called "Mr. Paganini" (a song I know from Ella Fitzgerald, my favorite singer of all time).

Kay Francis comes off the best, even though, as she admits, she doesn't sing, dance, or recite, but she is the backbone of the group, organizing events and keeping up morale. The bland Dick Haymes plays a soldier who falls for Mayfair. The infinitely irritating Phil Silvers is an infinitely irritating soldier who is assigned to accompany the girls. Some celebs who appear as themselves include Carmen Miranda, Alice Faye (who does a nice rendition of "You'll Never Know"), and George Jessel. The North Africa section, with the Jills playing nurse under fire, rings totally false, but dramatically is the most satisfying part of the movie. I must admit I could barely stay awake through this one, and if it weren't for Kay Francis, I probably wouldn't have bothered finishing it.

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