Star Spangled Rhythm (1943, Paramount Studios)
I bought this movie as a part of a Bob Hope Tribute Collection Double Feature DVD with My Favorite Blonde but just recently got around to watching Star Spangled Rhythm (though I must’ve watched the first 10 or 15 minutes at some point because I remembered those scenes).
Star Spangled Rhythm is a big time Hollywood comedy-musical that was put on by Paramount Studios during World World II as a morale booster. And when I say Paramount Studios, I mean Paramount Studios! Literally every signed star at that point was in this movie: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Fred MacMurrary, Ray Milland, Victor Moore, Dick Powell, Betty Hutton, Marjorie Reynolds, Veronica Lake, Alan Ladd, William Bendix, Jerry Colonna, Dorothy Lamour, Paulette Goddard, Vera Zorina, Mary Martin, Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, Dona Drake, Eddie Bracken, Susan Hayward, etc., etc….! Even a few directors (Cecil B. DeMille, Preston Sturges and Ralph Murphy) appeared on camera and a couple of Paramount studio execs were spoofed as well.
I’m not a big fan of musicals, certainly not a fan of anything modern, but I’m slowly starting to appreciate these old Hollywood musicals. I attribute my appreciation mostly to the ”Road Pictures” that featured musical numbers but were primarily zany comedies. Also, it helps that Bob Hope & Bing Crosby were in Star Spangled Rhythm as well but to be fair the DVD packaging is a bit misleading. Although Bing & Bob receive top billing over all the other stars, neither shows up until a little more than halfway into the movie.
The movie is put together in a neat way. The first half of the is a comedy that focuses on a Paramount Studios gatekeeper (Victor Moore), his son that’s in the Navy (Eddie Bracken) & Paramount phone operator/son’s girlfriend (the adorable Betty Hutton). It’s a flimsy but legitimately funny and wacky story that builds up to all of Paramount’s stars putting on a show for a bunch of sailors in the second half of the movie as a benefit. That’s where Moore, Bracken and Hutton are given a rest and Paramount pulls out the big guns with songs, dances and more comedy skits. Bob emcees the benefit and is featured in a comedy skit while Bing closes the movie with a “Old Glory”, a patriotic number.
There are a number of highlights in this movie, Betty Hutton being one of them. She’s so adorable and cute in this movie I wanted to pinch her cheeks (and do other things to her as well). She’s a great comedian and was a show-stealer. I especially enjoyed her wall climbing scene. Lots of physical comedy.
Bing & Bob typically put on great performances as did Eddie “Rochester” Anderson (from Jack Benny’s radio troupe) with his musical number “Sharp As A Tack”. Seeing Dorothy Lamour and Paulette Goddard (both frequent co-stars of Bob Hope) sharing the stage together was a real treat as well. Along with Veronica Lake, they poked fun at their sex symbol status with the song “Sweater, Sarong & Peekaboo Bang”.
Big stars, great comedy and songs… Star Spangled Rhythm needs to be seen by fans of classic Hollywood.
Buy the My Favorite Blonde / Star Spangled Rhythm Double Feature DVD at Amazon.com