Warner Bros. and the Homefront Collection

 

This Is the Army (1943)         Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)

Hollywood Canteen (1944)

 

Warner Home Video (WHV) gives three cheers for the red, white and blue, saluting the studio’s WWII legacy with a special new DVD collection entitled Warner Bros. and the Homefront. Arriving in stores November 11, Veterans Day, this highly anticipated three-disc set is built around the three all-star, song-filled extravaganzas made by the studio’s finest talents during the tumult of WWII.

Headlining the collection is the first-ever WHV release of one of the biggest box-office hits of the era, Irving Berlin’s This is the Army, starring Ronald Reagan, George Murphy and Mr. Berlin himself, presented in its original roadshow format for the first time since its opening engagements. The collection also contains the long-awaited DVD debuts of two irresistible musical cavalcades featuring the biggest WB stars trying their hands at musical entertainment in Thank Your Lucky Stars and Hollywood Canteen.

The Warner Bros. and the Homefront collection is laden with an impressive array of special features, including commentaries, vintage Warner short subjects and Looney Tunes classics from WWII. Most significantly, the collection also contains “Warner at War,” a brand-new documentary which explores the studio’s fierce patriotism and unswerving dedication to aiding our country’s armed services on the battlefront, while entertaining those left behind at home....

 

Titles

 

Irving Berlin’s This Is the Army (1943)
Irving Berlin showed his abiding love for his country with, among other cultural accomplishments, decades of Broadway hits, the unofficial national anthem God Bless America (Veterans Day will mark the 70th Anniversary since the song was first performed and introduced to America and the world on “The Kate Smith Hour” 1938 Armistice Day CBS Radio Show broadcast, and as recreated in the movie version) and this World War II spirit-lifter. Originally conceived as a Broadway musical, the original stage production featured 350 real-life GIs, giving their singing-and-dancing all to raise nearly $2 million (then an astronomical sum) for Army Emergency Relief. At every performance, the highlight of the show was the moment when its composer, Mr. Berlin himself, would take center stage and sing “Oh, How I Hate to get up in the Morning.” The show was such an enormous success that Warner Bros. assembled a film adaptation with lightning speed, in order to spread the show’s unique blend of patriotism and entertainment to audiences everywhere. This Academy AwardŌ-winning screen adaptation stars (future U.S. Senator) George Murphy and (future U.S. President) Ronald Reagan cast as a father and son producing team who put on one stupendous military musical revue before the son marches off to war. Most of the same GIs who earned standing ovations every night on Broadway appear in the film version, along with leading lady Joan Leslie and guest stars Joe Louis, Kate Smith and even Irving Berlin himself. Directed by Michael Curtiz (Casablanca), This is the Army was an instant big-screen smash with audiences and critics, and became the top grossing film of 1943. All proceeds from the film were donated by Warner Bros. to Army Emergency Relief, and in 1950, Jack Warner donated the film itself to that organization. Removed from authorized distribution for more than a half century, Warner Home Video is proud to make the original roadshow version of the film available, under exclusive license from Army Emergency Relief and the God Bless America Fund.

Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)
The stars come out to play in the joyous World War II-era Thank Your Lucky Stars. A breezy, behind-the-Hollywood-scenes story about young talents hoping for a big break glitters with specialty numbers featuring Golden Era greats. Virtually every Warner star under contract to the studio braved the opportunity to sing and dance for the good of the nation’s morale, with the result making the film an instant classic. The one Warner star who declined to break character was perhaps the studio’s biggest, but Humphrey Bogart’s appearance in a scene being out-tough-guyed by S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall virtually steals the film. Legendary song and dance man Eddie Cantor takes a leading role in the film’s story, with Dennis Morgan and Joan Leslie featured as the romantic leads. The film also provided Dinah Shore with her film debut, taking on several of the film’s great songs by Frank Loesser and Arthur Schwartz. Warner stars best known for more serious roles let their guard down in memorable musical sequences including John Garfield, Errol Flynn, Ann Sheridan, Hattie McDaniel, Olivia de Havilland and Miss Bette Davis, whose witty, wry, jitterbugging rendition of They’re Either Too Young or Too Old is “the cherry on the top” (Clive Hirschhorn, The Hollywood Musical).

Hollywood Canteen (1944)
The legendary Hollywood Canteen was a massive and glamour-filled nightclub for GIs, located in the heart of tinseltown. Stars from every studio in town sacrificed any extra hours they could to help entertain soldiers who were temporarily in Los Angeles. The Canteen was where Joan Crawford might cook the eggs and John Garfield might scrub out the frying pan. The movie Hollywood Canteen is a snappy, starry salute to that World War II landmark, built around a storyline involving a corporal who wins a date with winsome Joan Leslie. Real-life Canteen co-founders Bette Davis and Garfield plus dozens more luminaries – including The Andrews Sisters, Jack Benny, Eddie Cantor, Barbara Stanwyck and even Roy Rogers with his horse Trigger – dazzle the troops as well as modern fans in “a great big scrambled vaudeville show with enough talent to have made a dozen fine movies” (Howard Barnes, New York Herald Tribune).

Posters

Theatrical Releases: 1943 - 1944

 DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Warner (3-disc) - Region 1, 2, 3, 4 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Warner (3-disc) - Region 1, 2, 3, 4 - NTSC
Bitrate:

Disc 1 - This Is the Army (1943)

Bitrate:

Disc 2 Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)

Bitrate:

Disc 3 Hollywood Canteen (1944)

Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.6 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 
Audio English (original mono) 
Subtitles

English (CC), French, none

Features

Release Information:
Studio: Warner Pictures

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Edition Details:

Irving Berlin’s This Is the Army (1943)
• Commentary by Joan Leslie, Dr. Drew Casper
• Edge of Darkness trailer
• Newsreel
• 1943 WB short: The United States Army Band
• 1943 WB cartoon: Confusions of a Nutsy Spy
• All new WHV Documentary: Warner at War
• Original theatrical trailer

Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)
• Watch on the Rhine trailer
• Newsreel
• 1943 WB shorts: Food and Magic, Three Cheers for the Girls, The United States Navy Band
• 1943 WB cartoon: Falling Hare
• Theatrical trailer

Hollywood Canteen (1944)
• The Conspirators trailer
• 1944 WB shorts: Proudly We Serve, Report from the Front, I am an American
• 1944 WB cartoon: Stage Door Cartoon
• 1945 WB cartoon: Herr Meets Hare
• 1946 WB cartoon: Hollywood Canine Canteen
• Theatrical trailer
 

DVD Release Date: November 11th, 2008
3 slim transparent keep cases inside a cardboard box (see image at top)

Chapters: various

 

Comments:

This is a 3-DVD set with all three discs being dual-layered and progressive - they are coded for regions 1 thru 4 in the NTSC standard. The package itself, is three slim transparent keep cases inside a cardboard box. All three films have original English mono and optional English close-captioned, or French, subtitles. Each has a Warner Night at the Movies section which includes supplements like a newsreel, one or more shorts, a cartoon, and various trailers. These can be watched in order ('Play All' option) - followed directly by the film - kind of simulating an original vintage theatrical viewing with those shorter 'B' supplements preceding the main feature. I endorse the concept and this manner of viewing - it's very nostalgic and great to set the mood.

 

The transfers have Warner's usual consistency having gone through their patented restoration process. Despite the 'heaviness' of the colors in This is the Army - I'm sure it accurately represents it original appearance roots. The black and white features - Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943), Hollywood Canteen (1944) look very strong. They are clean with excellent contrast and even decent detail. There is some very minor flickering contrast and a few, practically unnoticeable, speckles.    

 

I hope the screen captures below give you a fair idea. They are all very watchable - representing each film quite adeptly in my opinion. The audio is not always solid - but steady enough to enjoy the films. One should keep in mind that these movies are at getting on in years and premium sound quality was not at a high level when the films were initially shown theatrically. The mono can sound a shade 'tinny' in some of the musical numbers.  Subtitles (English CC or French), standard at this time for Warner, are appreciated.

 

     

I'm a big fan of the Warner Night at the Movies section and always start my viewing with those on order. I think they really help with the 'mood'. On top of those vintage extras there is a  Great commentary by Joan Leslie, Dr. Drew Casper. It is exceedingly professional and filled with valuable and interesting tidbits. Casper has moved into the ranks as being one of my favorite commentarists - his manner seems reminiscent . On This Is the Army there us also an all new WHV Documentary entitled Warner at War. Thank Your Lucky Stars includes an audio-only Screen Guild Theater Broadcast entitled Lady Esther - from late September, 1943. The two 'Nazi' mocking cartoons ('Confusions of a Nutsy Spy' and 'Herr Meets Hare') give a caveat about political correctness - as one might expect these days. Hollywood Canteen has three very amusing/interesting shorts - Proudly We Serve, Report from the Front and I am an American instilling in the programmed Nationalistic sprit of the day. It includes three separate cartoons as well. The big bonus is, of course, the excellent commentary and the documentary - both on This Is the Army.   

It's hard to articulate what I find so appealing about these films - but they encapsulate a spirit that has a kind of brooding momentum to it. Certainly the times themselves hold a huge nostalgia that seems so distant from, in some sense, today's world. The price is about $10 each and for that incredible value the set if strongly recommended!       

Gary W. Tooze



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Screen Captures

 

This Is the Army (1943)

 

 

 

 

 


Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)

 

 

 

 

 

 


Hollywood Canteen (1944)

 

 

 

 

 


DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Warner (3-disc) - Region 1, 2, 3, 4 - NTSC




 

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