This is the Army (1943)

Second only to conservative talk radio in amount of Ronald Reagan content.

 

Now I hate to use the phrase “barely made the cut” but…yep. (I really know how to sell these films, don’t I?)

OK, it’s not that bad, This is the Army is just difficult to actually sit and watch. (That didn’t really help, did it?) What I mean is, it’s a great “background” movie like Fantasia — enjoy the music and completely ignore 74 percent of the content.

Though not wildly popular today, This is the Army was just behind For Whom the Bell Tolls as the highest grossing movie of 1943, raising millions of dollars for Army Emergency Relief during World War II.

The man behind this film is the one and only Irving Berlin, a brilliant songwriter who wrote the music for films like Holiday Inn and White Christmas.

While serving in the Army in 1917, Berlin put together a play called Yip! Yip! Yaphank (yeah, I don’t know either), in which he cast other soldiers during World War I. Then in 1941, Berlin got approval to adapt that old play as a Broadway musical during World War II. This movie pretty much tells the story of restaging that musical for a new generation, with George Murphy playing a character based on Irving Berlin.

One interesting note is that Berlin insisted on racial integration for the new musical, unconventionally allowing black and white men to perform on stage at the same time. Unfortunately, on the other end of the spectrum, this movie also includes a blackface minstrel number as well as a few other racial stereotypes that reflect the attitudes of that era in American history. So, yep, disclaimer officially made.

this is the army reagan filmThis movie is packed with 19 songs (mostly patriotic), but here are the ones really worth watching (in order of appearance):

  • We’re On Our Way to France
  • God Bless America
  • This is the Army, Mr. Jones
  • That’s What the Well Dressed Man in Harlem Will Wear
  • How About a Cheer for the Navy?
  • This Time

Berlin himself also makes a cameo to perform the song “Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning,” for all you crazy Irving Berlin paparazzi.

This is the Army stars George Murphy (Broadway Melody of 1940), Joan Leslie (Yankee Doodle Dandy), and some young whipper-snapper named Ronald Reagan.

OH, SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW: Ronald Reagan doesn’t make any off-the-cuff jokes about bombing Russia in this movie.

This movie contains one special song that Berlin wrote in 1918 for Yip! Yip! Yaphank but was shelved at the time since it didn’t fit with the rest of the show.

In 1938, Berlin felt it was time to dust off this piece of music and revive it as a “peace song.” It was introduced to the world on an Armistice Day broadcast by a singer named Kate Smith (who also plays herself in this film).

Berlin, a Jewish immigrant from Russia, called the song “God Bless America.”

 

It is easy to look to God during times of war. It’s not so easy during times of relative peace like we have now in the United States.

The blessings that God bestows upon America, or any country for that matter, depend largely on the hearts and actions of its citizens. If we want continued peace and prosperity we must fight to hold on to our religious freedom.

The day we fall as a nation will be the day following our forgetting of the God in whom we trust.

“Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom [the Lord] shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve [God] according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of  liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound  cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever.” — 2 Nephi 1:7

 

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