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Hollywood Canteen
IMDB Rating: 7.3/10 from votes
Release: 31 December 1944 (USA) /

Hollywood Canteen

Genre: Comedy, Musical, Romance
Director: Delmer Daves,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Two soldiers on sick leave spend three nights at the Hollywood Canteen before going back to active duty. With a little friendly help from John Garfield, Slim gets to kiss Joan Leslie, whom he has been dreaming about while in the Pacific. He meets her later at the Farmer's Market. On the third night, Slim is the millionth man into the Canteen, earning him a date with Joan. Slim thinks he's been duped when she doesn't show up at his train. Slim's buddy Sergant dances with Joan Crawford. Canteen President Bette Davis praises the canteen and the war effort. Virtually everyone Warners could spare entertains. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

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Critic Reviews


I am a great fan of the late John Garfield. If you are a Garfield buff, it may surprise you to learn that anyone would consider Hollywood Canteen a great Garfield film since he's on screen for such a very short time and since he did so many more "substantive" vehicles like "Body and Soul", "Gentleman's Agreement", "The Breaking Point", and "Force of Evil".

But you'd have to understand that the idea for the real Hollywood Canteen originated with Garfield, supposedly after he paid a visit to the famous Stage Door Canteen in New York. He got together with Bette Davis, and between them they persuaded all the major studios to support a similar place in Hollywood where servicemen could relax, have fun, and mingle with movie stars.

The movie's plot is utterly preposterous, but that makes no difference. The chemistry between stars Joan Leslie and Robert Hutton is wonderful. Joan's role was originally to have been played by Ann Sheridan, but she turned it down because she, too, thought the idea of a soldier on leave falling in love with a movie star at the Canteen and actually getting a chance to spend some with her was ridiculous.

In my opinion, Joan turned out to be absolutely perfect. She was quite young when the movie was made (only 18 or 19), but one of Warner Brothers' most popular actresses of the early 1940s.

Formal reviews of Hollywood Canteen at the time it was released tended to pan the movie, even though it was a commercial success. But for today's audiences it's two hours of great fun. There are terrific song and dance numbers by some of Hollywood's best.

The great irony of this movie has to do with what happened to John Garfield. Declared 4-F because of a heart condition, Garfield repeatedly tried to enlist but was turned down. He gave tirelessly of himself, entertaining troops in USO shows stateside and in Europe. Even Bette Davis acknowledged that he was the driving force behind the Canteen.

So it is inconceivable to me that someone who gave so much of himself to the war effort could have been blacklisted as a communist sympathizer. His career and his life were ruined, and he died suddenly in May, 1952.

As the great playwright, Clifford Odets, wrote in his letter to The New York Times the Sunday after Garfield died, "Despite any and all gossip to the contrary, I, who was in a position to know, state without equivocation that of all his possessions Garfield was proudest of his American heritage, even rudely so."

Anyway, enough of this heavy stuff. If you get a chance to see Hollywood Canteen, don't miss it. It's great entertainment.

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