Funny, tuneful, and joyous, STAR SPANGLED RHYTHM is also a historical cinematic document, freezing Paramount's greatest stars of the day in one film, along with two score of the best character actors in the business and several directors playing themselves. The bare-bones plot has sailor
Jimmy (Eddie Bracken) leaving his ship and coming to Hollywood to visit his dad, Pop Webster (Victor Moore), a former silent western actor now reduced to working as Paramount's gate guard. Pop and Polly Judson (Betty Hutton), the switchboard operator with whom Jimmy has been corresponding, have
convinced Jimmy that his father actually runs Paramount, and now Pop can't bear to have his son find out the truth. Since he is beloved by everyone on the lot, Paramount personnel rally to help Pop in his charade, and when the real studio head (Walter Abel) leaves for a short while, Pop is able to
greet Jimmy and his friends in a posh office, accepting calls from movie heavyweights and hurling insults at the callers. He and Polly take their visitors around the lot (and we see Paramount's actors as themselves or working in imaginary films), after which Polly accompanies Jimmy back to his
ship and vows to marry him the following day if he can get some more shore leave. Jimmy is granted the extended leave after he tells his captain he can get all of Paramount's stars to do a special variety show for the sailors docked in the harbor. The following day, Pop uses his phony power to
order all of the stars to perform in the huge gala, but the studio's real boss discovers his scheme, fires Pop, and bars him from the lot. Polly, however, appeals to the actors and actresses to help Pop and his son save face, and all agree to perform. Of course, the show is a huge success, and Pop
is rehired by the studio in a better job.
Lots of good music by Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen, many funny star turns, and a number of amusing specialty bits make this a very enjoyable film, though many of the jokes are very much of their time and are likely to be lost on contemporary viewers. Still, STAR SPANGLED RHYTHM is definitely
worth seeing for its collection of stars alone. The score earned an Oscar nomination, as did the song "That Old Black Magic" (Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer). Other songs include "A Sweater, a Sarong and a Peek-a-Boo Bang" (performed by Paulette Goddard, Dorothy Lamour, Veronica Lake [looped by
Martha Mears], Sterling Holloway, Arthur Treacher, and Walter Catlett), "Hit the Road to Dreamland" (performed by Dick Powell, Mary Martin, and the Golden Gate Quartet), "Old Glory" (performed by hing Crosby and others against a studio set background of Mt. Rushmore), "Doing It for Defense,"
"Sharp As a Tack," and "He Loved Me Till the All-Clear Came."
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Funny, tuneful, and joyous, STAR SPANGLED RHYTHM is also a historical cinematic document, freezing Paramount's greatest stars of the day in one film, along with two score of the best character actors in the business and several directors playing themselves… (more)