Occasionally, the New York Times surprises me and prints genuinely useful information, such as this tidbit:
It was the highest-grossing film of 1943, but “This Is the Army” has never been available on home video in an authorized edition. But now Warner Home Video has managed to clear the rights to this rousing propaganda musical, which features a score by Irving Berlin, a cast that includes two future California politicians — George Murphy and Ronald Reagan — as father and son, and gorgeous, three-strip Technicolor cinematography by Bert Glennon and Sol Polito.
Directed by Michael Curtiz, the film was based on a touring stage production, featuring actual soldiers (some 350 appear in the movie), that was conceived by Berlin as a money-raiser for the Army Emergency Fund. After you’ve seen Kate Smith belt out “God Bless America” and heard the tiny Berlin warble his way through “Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning,” you’ll be ready to write a check yourself.
Warner’s has packaged “This Is the Army” with two other wartime revues, David Butler’s “Thank Your Lucky Stars” and Delmer Daves’s “Hollywood Canteen,” in a superbly produced boxed set. Also included is a new documentary, “Warner at War,” which traces the studio’s bold interventionist policy, beginning with “Confessions of a Nazi Spy” in 1939. (Warner Home Video, $39.98, not rated)
Hurrah! I know what I want for Christmas/Hannukah.