Four Jills in a Jeep (1944)

89 mins | Comedy-drama | March 1944

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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were Command Performance and Camp Show. Before the film's opening credits, an onscreen written prologue reads, "This story is based on the experiences of four of the many performers who take entertainment to America's men in uniform in the theatres of war as well as in the camps at home. Actors who serve in this global entertainment program consider it a privilege to lighten a little the hardships endured by our fighting men and to share, in a measure, their experiences in combat zones. The producers gratefully acknowledge the work of USO-Camp Shows, Inc., the Hollywood Victory Committee and the Special Service Division of the War Department." As noted in the onscreen credits, the picture was based on the actual experiences of Kay Francis, Carole Landis, Martha Raye and Mitzi Mayfair, who, as the members of the Feminine Theatrical Task Force, entertained American and British troops on a tour of England, Ireland and North Africa. The women left the United States on 16 Oct 1942 and spent approximately three months in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. During their sometimes difficult tour, the women performed several shows a day for the troops. They also presented a command performance for the Queen of England.
       After leaving England, the women spent approximately three weeks in North Africa, which marked the first USO tour of that area. Francis and Mayfair then returned to the United States. Landis flew back to England to join her husband. As depicted in the film, Landis met U.S. Army Air Force pilot Capt. Thomas C. Wallace in England in Nov 1942 and married him on ...

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The working titles of this film were Command Performance and Camp Show. Before the film's opening credits, an onscreen written prologue reads, "This story is based on the experiences of four of the many performers who take entertainment to America's men in uniform in the theatres of war as well as in the camps at home. Actors who serve in this global entertainment program consider it a privilege to lighten a little the hardships endured by our fighting men and to share, in a measure, their experiences in combat zones. The producers gratefully acknowledge the work of USO-Camp Shows, Inc., the Hollywood Victory Committee and the Special Service Division of the War Department." As noted in the onscreen credits, the picture was based on the actual experiences of Kay Francis, Carole Landis, Martha Raye and Mitzi Mayfair, who, as the members of the Feminine Theatrical Task Force, entertained American and British troops on a tour of England, Ireland and North Africa. The women left the United States on 16 Oct 1942 and spent approximately three months in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. During their sometimes difficult tour, the women performed several shows a day for the troops. They also presented a command performance for the Queen of England.
       After leaving England, the women spent approximately three weeks in North Africa, which marked the first USO tour of that area. Francis and Mayfair then returned to the United States. Landis flew back to England to join her husband. As depicted in the film, Landis met U.S. Army Air Force pilot Capt. Thomas C. Wallace in England in Nov 1942 and married him on 5 Jan 1943. The couple divorced in Jul 1945. Raye, who was "the first honorary captain created in World War II," according to a LAEx article, continued touring with other USO groups. The experience marked the beginning of Raye's long association with the USO, and her many visits to the troops during the Korean and Vietnam wars, as well as her service as a nurse, earned Raye many awards, including a Purple Heart, the USO's Distinguished Service Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. [In 1994, Raye attempted to sue actress Bette Midler and the producers of the 1991 picture For the Boys, which told the story of a USO entertainer. Although Raye claimed that the 1991 picture was plagiarized from an autobiographical outline she had written, her case was dismissed.]
       According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, Landis and Edwin Seaver wrote a book about her travels while the film was in pre-production at the studio. Although Landis' material was not used in the screenplay, the studio agreed to let her use the film's title as her book title for the publicity value. Her book, which was published in 1944, first appeared as a serial in SEP (18 Dec 1943--15 Jan 1944). The legal records indicate that, while the film was based on the experiences of all four performers, only Mayfair and Francis directly contributed to the screenplay. The legal records also indicate that Mayfair's agent, Lou Irwin, was the first person to suggest the idea of the film to the studio. Studio records reveal that Waldo Salt worked on an early draft of the film's script, but the extent of his contribution to the completed picture has not been determined.
       According to a HR news item, Islin Auster was originally scheduled to produce the picture. The Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection, also kept at UCLA, contains conference notes with studio production chief Darryl F. Zanuck, who planned for John Sutton to play "Capt. Lloyd." Zanuck also commented to director William A. Seiter, "Martha Raye usually talks too fast and too loud. Try to make her play Martha-Raye-off-stage and not Martha-Raye-on-the-screen, if possible." An Aug 1943 HR news item noted that Jack Oakie had been set for the comedy lead, and that Cornel Wilde was being considered for "the juvenile spot." Although a 21 Oct 1943 HR news item stated that Raye would sing "Jeep, Jeep, Listen to the Soldiers Sing," which she had written herself, the song does not appear in the completed picture. The picture marked the screen debut of singer Dick Haymes. Dance director Don Loper was borrowed from M-G-M for the production, which marked Francis' first film appearance since the 1942 Universal production Between Us Girls. Mayfair had not appeared in a feature film since the 1930 musical Paramount on Parade, and Four Jills in a Jeep marked her last screen appearance.
       According to an Apr 1943 HR news item, Landis, Raye and Mayfair were also scheduled to make a short film recreating their act. Twentieth Century-Fox loaned Harold Schuster to the Army to direct the short, which was "to be exhibited only before Army groups, and is not for public showing." According to the news item, "The short opens on the set of [Four Jills in a Jeep], from which point the girls go into their act."

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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
18 Mar 1944
---
Daily Variety
15 Mar 1944
p. 6
Film Daily
17 Mar 1944
p. 17
Hollywood Reporter
17 Mar 1943
p. 2
Hollywood Reporter
6 Apr 1943
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
30 Apr 1943
p. 8
Hollywood Reporter
31 Aug 1943
p. 10
Hollywood Reporter
23 Sep 1943
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
4 Oct 1943
p. 2
Hollywood Reporter
8 Oct 1943
p. 9
Hollywood Reporter
21 Oct 1943
p. 2, 10
Hollywood Reporter
18 Nov 1943
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
3 Dec 1943
p. 9
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 1944
p. 4
Hollywood Reporter
10 Apr 1944
p. 6
Los Angeles Examiner
9 Apr 1943
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
18 Mar 1944
p. 1802
New York Times
6 Apr 1944
p. 27
Variety
15 Mar 1944
p. 32
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Story
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr to scr const and on spec comedy seq
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Assoc
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
DANCE
Mus numbers staged by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Ohio," music by Jimmy McHugh; "You're in the Army Now," music by Isham Jones; "No Love, No Nothing," music by Harry Warren.
SONGS
"How Blue the Night," "You Send Me," "How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You," "It's the Old Army Game" and "Crazy Me," music and lyrics by Jimmy McHugh and Harold Adamson; "Cuddle Up a Little Closer, Lovey Mine," music by Karl Hoschna, lyrics by Otto Harbach; "Over There," music and lyrics by George M. Cohan; "If You Can't Sing It You'll Have to Swing It," music and lyrics by Sam Coslow; "You'll Never Know" and "I, Yi, Yi, Yi, Yi (I Like You Very Much)," music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Mack Gordon; "The U.S. Field Artillery March," music and lyrics by Edmund L. Gruber.
SONGWRITERS/COMPOSERS
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Camp Show
Command Performance
Release Date:
March 1944
Production Date:
18 Oct--early Dec 1943
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
1 April 1944
LP12812
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
89
Length(in feet):
8,021
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
PCA No:
9394
SYNOPSIS

When actress Kay Francis acts as mistress of ceremonies for a broadcast of the Command Performance radio show, which goes out to military troops around the world, also appearing on the show are Jimmy Dorsey and his orchestra, actresses and singers Betty Grable and Carole Landis, comedienne Martha Raye and dancer Mitzi Mayfair. After the show is over, Dorsey announces that he is going on a USO tour, and Kay reveals that she also has received permission from military officials in Washington, D.C. to gather a troupe of entertainers. The perpetually blustery Martha tells a visiting colonel from the British Foreign Office how much she would like to be with the fighting men, and he suggests that Kay form her troupe with Martha, Carole and Mitzi. The three women agree, and soon Kay has organized everything for their trip to England. After their arrival in England, American soldier Sgt. Eddie Hart drives them to the military base, where they make the best of their muddy, cold surroundings. Eddie quickly develops a crush on Martha, while Carole is attracted to American flier Capt. Ted Warren. Kay is impressed by the good manners of an English doctor, Capt. Lloyd, while Mitzi is surprised to meet her former partner and boyfriend, Lt. Dick Ryan. The women have little time for romance, however, as they travel the country with their show and work hard to entertain the troops. Carole arranges to see Ted at a Red Cross benefit given at the luxurious home of Lady Carlton-Smith, and despite the attentions paid to Carole by a general, she and Ted find time to declare ...

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When actress Kay Francis acts as mistress of ceremonies for a broadcast of the Command Performance radio show, which goes out to military troops around the world, also appearing on the show are Jimmy Dorsey and his orchestra, actresses and singers Betty Grable and Carole Landis, comedienne Martha Raye and dancer Mitzi Mayfair. After the show is over, Dorsey announces that he is going on a USO tour, and Kay reveals that she also has received permission from military officials in Washington, D.C. to gather a troupe of entertainers. The perpetually blustery Martha tells a visiting colonel from the British Foreign Office how much she would like to be with the fighting men, and he suggests that Kay form her troupe with Martha, Carole and Mitzi. The three women agree, and soon Kay has organized everything for their trip to England. After their arrival in England, American soldier Sgt. Eddie Hart drives them to the military base, where they make the best of their muddy, cold surroundings. Eddie quickly develops a crush on Martha, while Carole is attracted to American flier Capt. Ted Warren. Kay is impressed by the good manners of an English doctor, Capt. Lloyd, while Mitzi is surprised to meet her former partner and boyfriend, Lt. Dick Ryan. The women have little time for romance, however, as they travel the country with their show and work hard to entertain the troops. Carole arranges to see Ted at a Red Cross benefit given at the luxurious home of Lady Carlton-Smith, and despite the attentions paid to Carole by a general, she and Ted find time to declare their love for each other. Later, the women return to Ted's camp, and Kay, Martha and Mitzi try to cheer up Carole when Ted is late returning from a mission. The men also try to entertain the hard-working performers, and together they listen to a Command Performance broadcast featuring George Jessel, Alice Faye and Carmen Miranda. Carole's anxiety is finally relieved when Ted returns safely. The couple are married shortly after, but are denied a honeymoon when the women receive orders to ship out to North Africa. Kay is bewildered by the new orders until Martha confesses that she caused the problem at the Red Cross party, when she boasted to an admiral about the entertainers' determination to visit men fighting in an active war zone. Upon their arrival in North Africa, the women are nonplussed by the hard conditions, but eagerly pitch in and help the nurses. Kay is especially pleased to find Capt. Lloyd assigned to the unit and does all she can to help him, even scrubbing floors. With their tenacity and cheerfulness, the American celebrities force the gruff head nurse to admit that she was wrong in her opinion that they would be hindrances, and they top off a long day by putting on a show for the troops. During Carole's performance, the lights go out due to a power failure, but the soldiers illuminate the stage with their flashlights and Carole continues. The show is then interrupted by a German bombing raid, and the women take cover in the trenches with the soldiers. Dick and Mitzi declare their love as they duck for cover, while elsewhere, Eddie cuddles with Martha. After the all-clear is sounded, an officer tells the women that they can now leave for the rear lines, but they refuse to leave the men while they are shipping out for the front lines. Soon after, the women wave to the soldiers as they drive away.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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