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Film Review: Strike Up the Band

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Strike Up the Band

MGM, 1940 (BW, 120 minutes, Production No. 1141)

Jimmy Connors reorganizes the Riverwood high school band into a dance band, and he and Mary attempt to finance the band's entry into a nationwide band contest sponsored by Paul Whiteman. The band performs at a high school dance, then puts on a play (one of the highlights of the movie). The play is a big success, and they now have enough money to get the band to the contest in Chicago, but fate throws them a curve when Willie requires emergency surgery due to an injury received during his performance in the play. The money they've worked so hard for is now needed to charter a plane to get Willie to a hospital. What will they do?

Crew

Produced by: Arthur Freed
Directed by: Busby Berkeley
Original Screen Play by: John Monks, Jr. and Fred Finklehoffe
Lyrics and Music by: Roger Edens
Musical Director: Georgie Stoll
Additional Songs: "Strike Up the Band" Music by George Gershwin, Lyrics by Ira Gershwin; "Our Love Affair" (by) Arthur Freed and Roger Edens
Chorals and Orchestrations: Leo Arnaud, Conrad Salinger
Art Director: Cedric Gibbons
Associate: John S. Detlie
Set Decorations: Edwin B. Willis
Musical Presentation by: Merrill Pye
Women's Wardrobe by: Dolly Tree
Men's Wardrobe by: Gile Steele
Make-Up Created by: Jack Dawn
Fruit Models Created by: Henry Rox
Recording Director: Douglas Shearer
Director of Photography: Ray June
Film Editor: Ben Lewis

Filmed: April 1940 - August 1940 (Judy turned 18 during filming)
Released: September 1940

Cast

Mickey Rooney ... Jimmy Connors
Judy Garland ... Mary Holden
Paul Whiteman ... Himself
June Preisser ... Barbara Frances Morgan
William Tracy ... Phillip Turner
Larry Nunn ... Willie Brewster
Margaret Early ... Annie
Ann Shoemaker ... Mrs. Connors
Francis Pierlot ... Mr. Judd
Virginia Brissac ... Mrs. May Holden
George Lessey ... Mr. Morgan
Enid Bennett ... Mrs. Morgan
Howard Hickman ... Doctor
Sarah Edwards ... Miss Hodges
Milton Kibbee ... Mr. Holden
Helen Jerome Eddy ... Mrs. Brewster
Joe Yule ... ticket seller
Harry McCrillis ... Booper Barton
Elliot Carpenter ... Henry
Virginia Sale ... Music Teacher
Mickey Martin ... Boy
Charles Smith ... Boy
Sherrie Overton ... Girl
Margaret Marquis ... Girl
Maxine Cook ... Girl
Phil Silvers ... Pitchman
Billy Wayne ... Clown
Joe Devlin ... Attendant
Don Castle ... Charlie
Harlan Briggs ... Doctor
Richard Allen ... Policeman
Jimmie Lucas ... Barker
Jack Albertson ... Barker
Earle Hodgins ... Hammer Concessionaire
Harry Harvey ... Shooting Gallery Concessionaire
Jack Baxley ... Ice Cream Concessionaire
Harry Lash ... Hot Dog Concessionaire
Jack Kenney ... Hot Dog Concessionaire
Roland Got ... House Boy
Lowden Adams ... Butler
Margaret Seddon ... Old Lady
Margaret McWade ... Old Lady
Jack Mulhall ... Man
Henry Roquemore ... Man
Leonard Sues ... Trumpet Player
Louise La Planche,
Lois James,
Helen Seamon,
Mary Jo Ellis,
Naida Reynolds,
Linda Johnson,
Wallace Musselwhite,
Myron Speth,
Douglas Wilson,
Sidney Miller,
Vondell Darr ... Students
Six Hits and a Miss ... vocals

Musical Program

[0:00] Overture (played by Orchestra behind titles)
[0:01] National Emblem (excerpt played by Riverwood High School Band)
[0:12] Our Love Affair [AAN] (sung by Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney)
[0:25] Do the La Conga (performed by Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Six Hits and a Miss, MGM Studio Chorus)
[0:49] Nobody (sung by Judy Garland)
[1:02] Nell of New Rochelle (performed by Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, June Preisser, William Tracy, Larry Nunn, Margaret Early and the MGM Studio Chorus)
Includes excerpts from:

Gay Nineties (?) (performed by Judy Garland, Margaret Early, Mickey Rooney, William Tracy, MGM Studio Chorus)
The Sidewalks of New York (East Side, West Side) (excerpt played by the MGM Studio Orchestra)
Walking Down Broadway (Judy Garland, Margaret Early and MGM Studio Chorus)
A Man Was the Cause of It All (?) (Judy Garland)
Light Cavalry (excerpts interspersed throughout, played by the MGM Studio Orchestra)
After the Ball (excerpt played by the MGM Studio Orchestra)
[cut] "I Just Can't Make My Eyes Behave" (Cobb-Edwards) (June Preisser and Male Chorus)
"Over the Waves" (Rosas) (MGM Studio Orchestra)

[1:07] Heaven Will Protect the Working Girl (excerpt sung by Judy Garland and Male Chorus)
[cut] "While Strolling Through the Park One Day" (aka The Fountain by the Park) (Haley-Keiser, 1894) [outtake] (Mickey Rooney and MGM Studio Orchestra)
Home Sweet Home (excerpt played by the MGM Studio Orchestra)
"Flower Song" (Lange) (MGM Studio Orchestra)
Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-Der-E (excerpt performed by June Preisser and Male Chorus)
[1:11] Father, Dear Father, Come Home with Me Now (Larry Nunn and Judy Garland)
"Wintermarchen" (Czibulka) (MGM Studio Orchestra)
[cut] Curse of an Aching Heart (Judy Garland) [outtake]
Jingle Bells (excerpt played by the MGM Studio Orchestra)

[1:23] "When Day Is Done" (Katscher) (Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra)
[1:25] (My) Wonderful One (played by Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra)
[1:28] Drummer Boy (Judy Garland, Six Hits and a Miss and the MGM Studio Orchestra with Mickey Rooney on drums and vibraphone)
[1:46] Travel / Contest Montage, Roger Edens at the piano
includes excerpts from the following:

Drummer Boy (Edens)
"Running Wild" (Gibbs)
"China Boy" (Winfree-Boutelje)
"Hands Across the Table" (Delettre)
Limehouse Blues (Braham)

[1:51] Finale: Strike Up the Band / Do the La Conga / Our Love Affair / Drummer Boy (performed by Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Six Hits and a Miss and the MGM Studio Orchestra and Chorus)

see soundtrack CD collection review

Notes

Judy turned 18 during filming of this picture. The beginning of her work on Band overlapped her completion of Andy Hardy Meets Debutante, and she began work on Little Nellie Kelly before completion of her work on Band in August 1940.

"Our Love Affair", coauthored by Arthur Freed and Roger Edens, was nominated for Best Song Academy Award for 1940.

The film was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Sound Recording (Douglas Shearer), Best Score (George Stoll and Roger Edens), and Best Song ("Our Love Affair")

This was the second of the four Mickey/Judy "backyard musicals" directed by Busby Berkeley. Previously released was Babes in Arms (1939), and still to come were Babes on Broadway (1941), and Girl Crazy (1943).

Vincente Minnelli, having just signed on with MGM, came up with the idea for the fruit orchestra in the "Our Love Affair" number. Though often credited with producing the scene, he denies that in his autobiography, but takes credit for originating the idea.

Strike Up the Band was one of eight movie adaptations starring Judy to be presented by Lux Radio Theatre (she appeared on more than 200 radio programs during her career). The radio adaptation of Band, also starring Mickey Rooney, aired on October 28, 1940. The other Lux presentations in which Judy starred were: Merton of the Movies (with Mickey Rooney, 1941), Morning Glory (with John Payne and Adolphe Menjou, 1942), A Star Is Born (with Walter Pidgeon, 1942), The Clock (with John Hodiak, 1946), Meet Me in St. Louis (with Tom Drake and Margaret O'Brien, 1946), The Wizard of Oz (1950), and Lady in the Dark (with John Lund, 1953) (all available on audio cassette). See Radio section for details.

The complete soundtrack is included in the 4-CD set entitled: "Mickey & Judy," Rhino R2 71921 (1995).

See Judy Garland Movies on Video for information about the latest releases of home video and sountrack.

See Class Act for more information on this and other classic films.

Awards

Won Best Sound Recording Academy Award (Douglas Shearer)
Nominated for Best Original Song Academy Award (Roger Edens, George Stoll)
Nominated for Best Original Score Academy Award (Roger Edens, George Stoll)

Critical Response

"While all the young principals do themselves proud, Garland particularly achieves rank as one of the screen's great personalities. Here she is for the first time in the full bloom and charm which is beyond childhood, as versatile in acting as she is excellent in song - a striking figure and a most oomphy one in the wild abandon of the La Conga."

- Daily Variety

"The La Conga danced by Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in Strike Up the Band is nothing less than sensational. For that reason, Movie and Radio Guide hereby christens the number 'The Roogaronga.' This title is a combination of the first three letters of Mickey's and Judy's last names, to which has been added the identifying dance classification."

- Movie and Radio Guide, 1940

Strike Up the Band is Metro's successor to 'Babes in Arms,' with Mickey Rooney, assisted by major trouping on the part of Judy Garland ... Picture is overall smacko entertainment ... and Mickey Rooney teamed with Judy Garland is a wealth of effective entertainment."

- Variety, Sep. 18, 1940

Memorable Lines

Jimmy: "Mary, look at me. Do I look like a doctor?"
Mary (taking a long look): "No, I guess you don't."

Jimmy: "You're as important to me as the brass section!"
Mary (sarcastically): "That's pretty important!"

Mary (to Annie): "You know, it does something to a girl's spirit to keep on fighting a losing battle to a snare drum."

Jimmy: "Aw... women to me are just people!"

Mary (to Jimmy): "Just because you have a pair of long pants on, you think you know everything."

Nell: "Merriwether, you've been gone for two years. Where is the money?"

Supplemental Material

Supplement 1: Introducing the Roogaronga
Supplement 2: Assorted movie stills
Supplement 3: Assorted publicity stills
Supplement 4: Assorted pictures from magazines
Supplement 5: Window card and magazine ad

Mick 'n' Joots Album


Mickey & Judy DVD Box Set
Buy DVD Box Set



Strike Up the Band VHS
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Mickey & Judy Soundtrack CD Box Set
Buy Soundtrack CD Box Set



Strike Up the Band Posters
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Mickey and Judy sing "Our Love Affair"




Publicity still: Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney




Movie still: Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney




MGM publicity photo




Movie still: Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney in finale




Lion's Roar Magazine Ad, November 1940
Photoplay, November 1940




Movie still: Nell of New Rochelle



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