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Film Review: Thousands Cheer


Thousands Cheer

MGM, 1943 (Color, 126 minutes, Production No. 1274)

Brimming with music and boasting a parade of legendary movie personalities, Thousands Cheer features Gene Kelly in one of his best early roles as a circus aerialist who reluctantly becomes an army private. Complications ensue when he falls in love with the colonel's beautiful daughter (Kathryn Grayson), but there's always plenty of time for singing and dancing - highlighted by Gene Kelly's dance with a mop in an army canteen - and when the colonel's daughter decides to put on a mammoth show for the servicemen, she succeeds in bringing together an array of dazzling guest stars, including Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball and Eleanor Powell.

[MGM/UA tape sleeve]


Produced by: Joe Pasternak
Directed by: George Sidney
Original Screen Play by: Paul Jarrico and Richard Collins
Based on their story "Private Miss Jones"
Musical Program: "Daybreak" (by) Ferde Grofé, Harold Adamson; "I Dug a Ditch" (by) Lew Brown, Ralph Freed, Burton Lane; "Three Letters in the Mail Box" (by) Walter Jurmann, Paul Francis Webster; "Let There Be Music" (by) Earl Brent, E. Y. Harburg; "United Nations" (by) Dmitri Shostakovitch, Harold Rome, E. Y. Harburg
Musical Direction: Herbert Stothart
Musical Score: Herbert Stothart
Song Score: various
Art Director: Cedric Gibbons
Associate: Daniel B. Cathcart
Set Decorations: Edwin B. Willis
Associate: Jacques Mersereau
Costume Supervision: Irene
Make-Up Created by: Jack Dawn
Recording Director: Douglas Shearer
Cinematography: George Folsey
Photographed in Technicolor
Technicolor Color Director: Natalie Kalmus
Associate: Henri Jaffa
Film Editor: George Boemler

Filmed: Judy's number filmed December 1942
Released: October 1943


Kathryn Grayson ... Kathryn Jones
Gene Kelly ... Eddie Marsh
Mary Astor ... Hyllary Jones
John Boles ... Colonel William Jones
Ben Blue ... Chuck Polansky
Frances Rafferty ... Marie Corbino
Mary Elliott ... Helen
Frank Jenks ... Sgt. Kozlack
Dick Simmons ... Captain Fred Avery
Ben Lessey ... Pvt. Monks
Jose Iturbi ... Himself
and Guest Stars: Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Red Skelton, Eleanor Powell, Lucille Ball, Ann Sothern, Virginia O'Brien, Frank Morgan, Lena Horne, Marsha Hunt, Marilyn Maxwell, Donna Reed, Margaret O'Brien, June Allyson, Gloria DeHaven, John Conte, Sara Haden, Don Loper, Maxine Barrat, Kay Kyser and His Orchestra, Bob Crosby and His Orchestra, Benny Carter and His Band


[0:00] Overture (includes excerpt of "Let There Be Music" and other excerpts sung by Chorus)
[0:02] Caprice Español (Rimsky-Korsakov; played by Orchestra conducted by Jose Iturbi)
[0:03] Sempre Libera (from Verdi's La Traviata; sung by Kathryn Grayson with Orchestra conducted by Jose Iturbi)
[0:07] Daybreak (Adamson-Grofé; sung by Kathryn Grayson with Orchestra conducted by Jose Iturbi)
[0:20] Three Letters in the Mailbox (sung by Kathryn Grayson)
[0:23] I Dug a Ditch (sung by Ben Blue and unidentified trio)
[0:27] I Dug a Ditch (sung by Kathryn Grayson and Male Chorus)
[0:44] Let There Be Music (sung by Kathryn Grayson)
[0:55] Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 (Liszt; piano solo by Jose Iturbi)
[1:05] Let Me Call You Sweetheart / I Dug a Ditch (instrumental danced by Gene Kelly and mop)
The Show:
[1:13] American Patrol (played by Orchestra conducted by Jose Iturbi)
[1:16] Boogie Woogie (danced by Eleanor Powell)
[1:19] In a Little Spanish Town (sung by Gloria De Haven, June Allyson and Virginia O'Brien with Bob Crosby and His Orchestra)
[1:22] WAVES Skit (Frank Morgan [Doctor], Ann Sothern [1st Recruit], Lucille Ball [2nd Recruit], Marsha Hunt [3rd Recruit], Sara Haden [Nurse], Henry O'Neill [Doctor] )
[1:32] I Dug a Ditch (sung and played by Kay Kyser and His Orchestra with Georgia Carroll)
[1:34] Should I? (sung by Georgia Carroll with Kay Kyser and His Orchestra)
[1:37] Tico Tico (danced by Maxine Barrat and Don Loper)
[1:41] "Test Pilot" (Mickey Rooney impersonates Clark Gable and Lionel Barrymore in a scene from this classic film)
[1:43] Honeysuckle Rose (sung by Lena Horne with Benny Carter and His Band)
[1:46] Skelton Skit (Red Skelton [Soda Jerk], Donna Reed [lady with forgotten name], Margaret O'Brien [little girl])
[1:51] The Joint Is Really Jumpin' in Carnegie Hall (sung by Judy Garland with Jose Iturbi at the piano)
[1:55] The Flying Corbinos (performed by Gene Kelly and Aerialists)
[2:02] The United Nations (Victory Song) (sung by Kathryn Grayson and the United Nations Chorus with Orchestra Conducted by Jose Iturbi)

see soundtrack anthology CD review


Herbert Stothart was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture (he won that Academy Award in 1939 for his scoring of The Wizard of Oz).

Judy's number was introduced by Mickey Rooney (see Mick 'n' Joots Album). Judy had only one number in this film, but what a number! Jose Iturbi, one of the greatest concert pianists of all time and MGM musical star in the 1940s, begins the number with a solo classical mood, then turns on the Boogie as Judy asks him to "get in the groove." They really stop the show, and there's no doubt they are both having a great time! "The Joint Is Really Jumpin' in Carnegie Hall" was filmed in December 1942, while Judy was working on Presenting Lily Mars.

This was Jose Iturbi's MGM film debut.

Judy's number from the film, "The Joint Is Really Jumpin' in Carnegie Hall", is included on the laser disc box set, "Judy Garland: The Golden Years at M-G-M," MGM/UA Home Video ML104869.

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.


Thousands Cheer received Academy Award nominations for Best Color Cinematography (George Folsey), Best Score - Musical (Herbert Stothart) and Best Interior Decoration - Color (Cedric Gibbons, Daniel B. Cathcart, Edwin B. Willis and Jacques Mersereau).

Critical Response

"It's been a long time since Metro spread itself so lavishly as in Thousands Cheer. And it's been longer than that since the screen provided such a veritable grab-bag of delights. Musically, there is something for all tastes, from Jose Iturbi to boogie-woogie, from Kathryn Grayson and "Sempra Libera" to Judy Garland and "The Joint Is Really Jumpin!" ... It would have been easy for Metro's labor to result in a top-heavy production under a less resourceful producer than Joe Pasternak. His steadying hand is quite evident..."

- T.M.P., The New York Times

"... It is a prodigal and sumptuous motion picture. Gene Kelly ... is so superb in the role of a distinguished draftee who discovers a few things about discipline and teamwork that he dominates the proceedings ... It is Kelly who saves the picture from being merely a parade of personalities ... The specialty acts are introduced in an Army camp show ... Judy Garland is attractive as she gets Iturbi to bang out some swing rhythms on the piano..."

- Howard Barnes, The New York Herald Tribune

Memorable Lines

Mickey Rooney: "And now I'd like to introduce a young lady - a young lady that I've been dying to meet for some time. She's so cute and sweet...and, boy, can she sing a song! Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Judy Garland!"

Thousands Cheer VHS

Judy's number only included on this soundtrack anthology
Buy soundtrack anthology

Thousands Cheer Posters
Buy Posters

Red Skelton and Margaret O'Brien discuss pistachio ice cream

Jose Iturbi and Judy Garland

Judy Garland sings "The Joint Is Really Jumpin'"

Original music sheet

Original Dutch movie program

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