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Stars and Stripes Forever Reviews

This lively and colorful biography of John Philip Sousa preserves the spirit of his music with entertaining verve. The film opens with Sousa (Clifton Webb) as leader of the Marine Corps band. He then leaves the military to form his own band, taking the group all over the world to perform. One band member (Robert Wagner) helps create the Sousa legend by devising a giant horn he dubs the "Sousaphone." The plot is thin, but the film is full of energy, music, and color. The 1890s are faithfully re-created, including some wonderful period costumes. The cast gives the story everything it needs to work, with Webb giving an engaging, eccentric performance. Based on Sousa's autobiography, Marching Along, the film points out some little-known facts about the composer's life, such as his secret dream to write ballads rather than marches. It was the marches, however, that made him famous, and the film is packed with them, including "Stars and Stripes Forever," "El Capitan," and "Washington Post."