You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Stage Door Canteen

What stood a good chance of emerging a 'big short' under less skillful hands than Sol Lesser proves a sock filmusical of great stature. It has a cast that reads like an out-of-this-world benefit, and a romance as simple as Elsie Dinsmore - and the blend is plenty boffo.

With:
Cheryl Walker William Terry Marjorie Riordan Lon McCallister Margaret Early Michael Harrison

What stood a good chance of emerging a ‘big short’ under less skillful hands than Sol Lesser proves a sock filmusical of great stature. It has a cast that reads like an out-of-this-world benefit, and a romance as simple as Elsie Dinsmore – and the blend is plenty boffo.

Stage Door Canteen is a skilful admixture by two casts, in itself a departure. One cast projects the simple love story – Eileen and her ‘Dakota’; Jean and her ‘California’; Ella Sue and her ‘Texas’; Mamie and her ‘Jersey’. Another cast comprises the Stars of the Stage Door Canteen, and but few of them do walkthrough parts.

Plausibly and smoothly, these stars are introduced into their natural habitat, the Stage Door Canteen on West 44th Street, just off Broadway, where Lunt and Fontanne and Vera Gordon, Sam Jaffe, George Raft and Allen Jenkins, Ned Sparks, Ralph Morgan and Hugh Herbert – these, among others, are shown doing their menial back-in-the-kitchen chores. Then, up front, performing for the visiting men in uniform, gobs, doughboys, marines – no officers – is paraded a galaxy of talent that’s a super-duper, all-star array which reads like a casting agent’s dream of paradise.

Thus are paraded six bands – Basie, Cugat, Goodman, Kyser, Lombardo and Martin, in sock specialties all.

And, to project the mechanics of the canteen, showing the officer-of-the-day, the senior hostesses, the dancing junior hostesses, or as part of the plot motivation (as with Katherine Cornell’s skillful bit of Romeo and Juliet, and Paul Muni’s part as rehearsing his own play), there are introduced another array of stars and legit personalities: Helen Hayes, Ina Claire, Tallulah Bankhead, Vinton Freedley, Merle Oberon, Brock Pemberton, Katherine Hepburn and the others are intertwined into the lonely-soldier-boy-meets-romantic-stage-girl plot.

Scripter Delmer Daves does a deft writing job, and Frank Borzage’s direction smoothly splices the sum total into a very palatable cohesive entity.

1943: Nominations: Best Scoring of a Musical Picture, Song (‘We Mustn’t Sya Goodbye’)

Stage Door Canteen

Production: United Artists. Director Frank Borzage; Producer Sol Lesser; Screenplay Delmer Daves; Camera Harry Wild; Editor Hal Kern; Music Freddie Rich

Crew: (B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1943. Running time: 132 MIN.

With: Cheryl Walker William Terry Marjorie Riordan Lon McCallister Margaret Early Michael Harrison

More Film

  • Jane Fonda appears in Jane Fonda

    Sundance Film Review: 'Jane Fonda in Five Acts'

    What stood a good chance of emerging a ‘big short’ under less skillful hands than Sol Lesser proves a sock filmusical of great stature. It has a cast that reads like an out-of-this-world benefit, and a romance as simple as Elsie Dinsmore – and the blend is plenty boffo. Stage Door Canteen is a skilful […]

  • 'I Think We're Alone Now' Review

    Sundance Film Festival: 'I Think We're Alone Now'

    What stood a good chance of emerging a ‘big short’ under less skillful hands than Sol Lesser proves a sock filmusical of great stature. It has a cast that reads like an out-of-this-world benefit, and a romance as simple as Elsie Dinsmore – and the blend is plenty boffo. Stage Door Canteen is a skilful […]

  • The Happy Prince

    Sundance Film Review: 'The Happy Prince'

    What stood a good chance of emerging a ‘big short’ under less skillful hands than Sol Lesser proves a sock filmusical of great stature. It has a cast that reads like an out-of-this-world benefit, and a romance as simple as Elsie Dinsmore – and the blend is plenty boffo. Stage Door Canteen is a skilful […]

  • Sundance Film Review: 'Skate Kitchen'

    Sundance Film Review: 'Skate Kitchen'

    What stood a good chance of emerging a ‘big short’ under less skillful hands than Sol Lesser proves a sock filmusical of great stature. It has a cast that reads like an out-of-this-world benefit, and a romance as simple as Elsie Dinsmore – and the blend is plenty boffo. Stage Door Canteen is a skilful […]

  • Bajrangi Bhaijaan - Salman Khan

    Eros Confirms Wide Release in China for Salman Khan's ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’

    What stood a good chance of emerging a ‘big short’ under less skillful hands than Sol Lesser proves a sock filmusical of great stature. It has a cast that reads like an out-of-this-world benefit, and a romance as simple as Elsie Dinsmore – and the blend is plenty boffo. Stage Door Canteen is a skilful […]

  • Lion

    Hollywood Increases Domination of Australian Box Office in 2017

    What stood a good chance of emerging a ‘big short’ under less skillful hands than Sol Lesser proves a sock filmusical of great stature. It has a cast that reads like an out-of-this-world benefit, and a romance as simple as Elsie Dinsmore – and the blend is plenty boffo. Stage Door Canteen is a skilful […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content