Star Spangled Rhythm (1943)

99 mins | Musical comedy | 2 December 1943

Full page view
HISTORY

The working title of this film was Thumbs Up . Although Eddie Bracken's character is listed as "Jimmy Webster" in the CBCS, he is called "Johnny" in the film. As noted in the Var review, the picture features comic portrayals of various Paramount studio executives, including Walter Abel as "B. G. DeSoto," who is modeled after executive producer B. G. DeSylva, and Edward Fielding as "Y. Frank Freemont," who is modeled after studio vice-president Y. Frank Freeman. According to information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library, Paramount paid Arthur Ross and Fred Saidy for the rights to two sketches written for the musical revue Rally 'Round the Girls , which was produced in Hollywood in Mar 1942. The Paramount Collection also indicates that William Watson, Frank Tuttle, Lewis Allen and Paul Weatherwax assisted in the direction of this film; however, the scope of their contributions to the completed film has not been determined.
       HR news items reported the following about the production: René Clair was slated to direct the "That Old Black Magic" number, but was unavailable at the time. This film marks the feature film debut of Bing Crosby's son Gary. Some "sketches" in Star Spangled Rhythm were originally written by Arthur Ross and Fred Saidy for an unproduced musical titled Rally Round the Girls . The film's final cost was $1,127,989. News items in 1943 reported that Max Aronson , better known as "Broncho Billy," filed a $900,000 lawsuit against Paramount for using the "Broncho Billy" name. Aronson, who was renowned as one of the first motion picture stars and creator of the ... More Less

The working title of this film was Thumbs Up . Although Eddie Bracken's character is listed as "Jimmy Webster" in the CBCS, he is called "Johnny" in the film. As noted in the Var review, the picture features comic portrayals of various Paramount studio executives, including Walter Abel as "B. G. DeSoto," who is modeled after executive producer B. G. DeSylva, and Edward Fielding as "Y. Frank Freemont," who is modeled after studio vice-president Y. Frank Freeman. According to information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library, Paramount paid Arthur Ross and Fred Saidy for the rights to two sketches written for the musical revue Rally 'Round the Girls , which was produced in Hollywood in Mar 1942. The Paramount Collection also indicates that William Watson, Frank Tuttle, Lewis Allen and Paul Weatherwax assisted in the direction of this film; however, the scope of their contributions to the completed film has not been determined.
       HR news items reported the following about the production: René Clair was slated to direct the "That Old Black Magic" number, but was unavailable at the time. This film marks the feature film debut of Bing Crosby's son Gary. Some "sketches" in Star Spangled Rhythm were originally written by Arthur Ross and Fred Saidy for an unproduced musical titled Rally Round the Girls . The film's final cost was $1,127,989. News items in 1943 reported that Max Aronson , better known as "Broncho Billy," filed a $900,000 lawsuit against Paramount for using the "Broncho Billy" name. Aronson, who was renowned as one of the first motion picture stars and creator of the Western character "Broncho Billy," protested that Paramount was portraying him as a "washed-up and broken-down actor." The final outcome of this lawsuit has not been determined. Actor Tom Dugan, who briefly portrays "Hitler" in the musical revue in this film, also portrays an actor playing Adolf Hitler in United Artists' film To Be or Not to Be (see below). This film was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Song ("That Old Black Magic") and Best Scoring of a Musical Picture. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Feb 43
p. 55.
Box Office
2 Jan 1943.
---
Daily Variety
30 Dec 42
p. 3, 10
Film Daily
31 Dec 42
p. 8.
Film Daily
14 Jan 43
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jun 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jul 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Sep 42
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jan 43
p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald
3 Jan 1943.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
22 Aug 42
p. 855.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
9 Jan 43
p. 1102.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
20 Mar 43
p. 1218.
New York Times
31 Dec 42
p. 20.
The Exhibitor
28 Jun 1943.
---
Variety
30 Dec 42
p. 16.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Marjorie Deanne
Katharine Booth
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Co-dir
Asst dir
Dir of "That Old Black Magic" seq
Contr dir
Contr dir
Contr dir
Contr dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
Orig scr, Orig scr
Sketches by
Sketches by
Sketches by
Sketches by
Sketches by
Contr to dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus asst
Vocal arr
DANCE
Dances staged by
Dance supv
Dance dir
Miss Zorina's dance staged by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
SOURCES
SONGS
"Hit the Road to Dreamland," "I'm Doing It for Defense," "Old Glory," "He Loved Me Till the All-Clear Came," "On the Swing Shift," "Sharp as a Tack," "A Sweater, Sarong and a Peek-A-Boo Bang" and "That Old Black Magic," music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Johnny Mercer.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Thumbs Up
Release Date:
2 December 1943
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 30 December 1942
Production Date:
11 June--23 July 1942
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
29 December 1942
Copyright Number:
LP11867
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
99
Length(in feet):
8,986
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

When Navy sailor Johnny Webster comes ashore with his pals for a twenty-four hour leave in the Los Angeles area, he calls his father "Pop" at Paramount studios. Pop, a former silent movie Western star known as "Bronco Billy," has told Johnny that he is the executive vice-president in charge of production at Paramount, because he is too embarrassed to admit that he is only the gateman. Switchboard operator Polly Judson helps Pop keep up the farce by pretending to be his secretary every time Johnny calls, and has fallen in love with Johnny just from his photo. In order to maintain the ruse, Polly calls Sarah, the secretary to B. G. De Soto, the real executive producer, and tells her that De Soto has taken ill and wants her to work at his house. When Johnny, Hi-Pockets and the other sailors arrive, they meet Pop, wearing a beret and a natty suit, and Polly, in De Soto's office. The sailors are impressed by Pop's position, especially when performer Cass Daley comes in for an audition. Pop makes a mess of De Soto's office by unintentionally pressing automatic buttons that turn on the fans and display the hidden bar. When famous director Cecil B. DeMille telephones to ask De Soto's advice on some new footage he sent him, Pop tells him it stinks. Outraged, DeMille shows up at De Soto's office, and Polly, Pop and the sailors run out. De Soto, meanwhile, arrives at the studio but is blocked from entering by the guard, who is under orders from Polly, who also has told De Soto that he was fired that ... +


When Navy sailor Johnny Webster comes ashore with his pals for a twenty-four hour leave in the Los Angeles area, he calls his father "Pop" at Paramount studios. Pop, a former silent movie Western star known as "Bronco Billy," has told Johnny that he is the executive vice-president in charge of production at Paramount, because he is too embarrassed to admit that he is only the gateman. Switchboard operator Polly Judson helps Pop keep up the farce by pretending to be his secretary every time Johnny calls, and has fallen in love with Johnny just from his photo. In order to maintain the ruse, Polly calls Sarah, the secretary to B. G. De Soto, the real executive producer, and tells her that De Soto has taken ill and wants her to work at his house. When Johnny, Hi-Pockets and the other sailors arrive, they meet Pop, wearing a beret and a natty suit, and Polly, in De Soto's office. The sailors are impressed by Pop's position, especially when performer Cass Daley comes in for an audition. Pop makes a mess of De Soto's office by unintentionally pressing automatic buttons that turn on the fans and display the hidden bar. When famous director Cecil B. DeMille telephones to ask De Soto's advice on some new footage he sent him, Pop tells him it stinks. Outraged, DeMille shows up at De Soto's office, and Polly, Pop and the sailors run out. De Soto, meanwhile, arrives at the studio but is blocked from entering by the guard, who is under orders from Polly, who also has told De Soto that he was fired that morning. Polly, Pop and the sailors slip into a screening room where director Preston Sturges is viewing a musical number featuring Dick Powell and Mary Martin. Believing that De Soto is with the group, Sturges runs the film for them, and is extremely insulted when he finishes and De Soto has apparently slipped out. The group next stops at a sound stage where a big music and dance sequence is being shot, but when Hi-Pockets is unable to contain himself any longer and starts dancing with singer Dona Drake, director Ralph Murphy throws them off the set. In order to avoid being caught out of uniform, Pop takes the day off and shows the sailors around town, and casually mentions that he would have put on a star-studded performance for the sailors if only they had more shore leave. Johnny, Hi-Pockets and the others finally return to the ship, and Johnny asks the captain's permission to marry Polly. Although the captain grants permission, he cannot allow any more shore leave as he is waiting for orders. When Johnny mentions that his prestigious father offered to put on a variety show, the captain agrees to allow all the soldiers to go to the canteen auditorium the next night for the show. The next morning, Johnny calls Polly and tells her the "good" news, and Polly is terrified that she is now expected to fulfill Pop's idle promise. She immediately gets to work impersonating Sarah and asking Bob Hope to commit his evening to the benefit, but De Soto catches her and Pop in his office and fires them both. Pop is disconsolate, but Polly refuses to give up, and beseeches Hope and Bing Crosby to do the benefit for Pop's sake. Both actors agree and offer to enlist other stars on the lot. At 4:30 in the afternoon, De Soto is astonished when he sees all of his highly-paid stars leaving early, and follows them to the auditorium. At six o'clock, as Pop goes on stage to apologize to the soldiers for failing them, Bing Crosby and a host of other big names appear behind him, and the show begins, with Bob Hope as the emcee. When Johnny learns that De Soto has arrived with the intention of stopping the show, he and the sailors bind and gag him. During the performance, De Soto escapes but is unable to interrupt the proceedings. The head of all production, Y. Frank Fremont, then arrives, and when Polly confesses all, he is delighted by her and Pop's ingenuity and offers to rehire them both. The sailors are called to duty, and Johnny gives Polly his ring and a farewell kiss, as Bing Crosby finishes with a patriotic song dedicated to the American flag. +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.