12 November 2008

How About a Cheer for the Navy?

I love Veteran's Day. It's the day half the channels on TV show classic war movies. I ran across one of my favorites last night, "This Is the Army," a musical with songs by the famous Irving Berlin, and despite already owning the movie myself, I sat down and watched the entire thing. Not only is the music great, but the entire cast of the film and the musical show it was based upon was made up of active duty Army personnel with all proceeds of the broadway show and the film going to the Army Emergency Relief Fund. The film came out in 1943, the original stage production having come out the year before, and the original Army stage production that was based upon having come out during WWI (also written by Berlin), making the film basically based upon actual events. The film stars people like a then-Lt. Ronald Reagan, and as a special treat, the film is famous for actually featuring Irving Berlin himself on stage, singing one of the songs he wrote for the show. This song, "Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning" happens to be one of my favorites; the clever lyrics make the song particularly funny, although the idea of murdering the base camp's bugler simply for tending to his military duties as ordered is amusing enough.

As Robert Osborn of TCM recounted last night, one of the behind-the-scenes stories from the film had a stage hand, one who neither knew who wrote the music for the production or who Irving Berlin even was, upon hearing Berlin's less-than-melodious voice belting out his own song, said, "If the guy who wrote that song could hear this guy singing it, he'd roll over in his grave." Indeed, Berlin was not known for his singing ability by any stretch, but considering his extraordinary talent in the music composition field, most people forgave him for it just the same. It was still spectacular to see him in the show.

Admittedly, if you're not into song and dance numbers, you won't enjoy this film. The Husband felt patriotic enough to watch for the first 10 minutes before conveniently wandering off to attend to more pressing matters like staring at the kitchen sink. I did, however, make him come back for the Navy number, which frankly is the best song in the entire movie. In typical Navy fashion, approximately 1 billion sailors crash the Army musical number in progress, rush the stage, scatter the Army guys, and begin singing their own number instead.

The Army this, the Army that
Is all we heard from where we sat,
Now how about a cheer for the Navy?

The Army's great, the Army's tough,
But don't you think we've heard enough?
So how about a cheer for the Navy?

Incredibly enough, these sailors had the foresight to also include a scale mockup of a battleship onstage for their musical performance. Amazing. And I hate to say it, but their coordinated marching far exceeded that of the Army's (although I'm fairly certain it was Army enlisted merely dressed in Navy attire anyway) and made for a spectacular display onstage.

A few years ago the Husband and I went to the 1812 Overture performance on the lawn of the Washington Monument (that's in D.C., my geographically challenged friends). The performance is free and features the U.S. Army band and chorus putting on various numbers, not all military related. (The conclusion, as you may have guessed, is the band's performance of the 1812 Overture, complete with synchronized mortar fire provided by the 3d United States Infantry Regiment--it's incredible.) To my point, some of the numbers the chorus sang were from "This Is the Army." It was my fondest wish that they would get around to "How About a Cheer for the Navy" with the Navy chorus rushing the stage and taking over for one number. That would have been awesome. Why aren't I in charge of making these decisions again?

My point is, if you have never seen actual WWII-era Army enlisted men dancing in a chorus line in heels, boy howdy have you been missing out.

And lookie what I found! Not the best quality, but you still get the effect.


Bonny said...

Maybe after Peanut and Peawhistle are all grown, you can follow your dreams by joining the military and starring on Broadway. I'd go to all your shows.

Abby said...


Jody said...

Wow! That was something else! I almost stood up and started marching (must have been that Navy blood in me), but alas, I didn't. Maybe next time.

Ryann said...

I abhor watching old movies but then again I don't really watch any movies. But that was rather amusing-thanks for sharing!

Heidi said...

Hmmm...I don't know if the Navy guys rushing the Army guys can tempt me enough to watch a musical. The concept sounds funny to me, but does it have to involve singing and dancing?

Abby said...

I wouldn't recommend watching the whole thing in your case--as I've said it's pretty heavy on the singing and dancing and pretty light on the plot and character development. Basically, people just watch it for the music.

HOWEVER, the Navy song I put up the video for is well worth the watch, regardless of your interest in the rest of the film.

Benteti5 said...

Well, here's where we differ. I figured you to normally weird, but upon further enlightenment, you are oficially way out there. I might have spelled oficially wrong. I've tried over and over to become cultured and supportive of the artsy fartsy crap, but I just can't. ZZZZZ

Abby said...

So, cultured = weird. Interesting.

Well, I can't criticize. If you won't hold it against me that I can appreciate the fine arts and love patriotic music dedicated to the selfless fighting men and women of our military, then I won't hold it against you that you're a godless communist bedwetter.

Benteti5 said...

Cultured=weird. Where were you in school? All those drama/music/art majors were weird. To be PC, I'll call them eccentric. I appreciate our military, but do they have prance around in dress whites? Be honest now, that uniform just can't do it for you. I might be a lot of things, but a bedwetter? That's below the belt.

Abby said...

I was a PoliSci major. So there.

I liked the dress whites all right, but I liked the working whites more. But we've had this conversation already.

Below the belt. Ha!

Benteti5 said...

At least the Navy dress uniforms match. What's up with Marines and the coat of many colors going on. I live in a neighborhood of Marines and luckily they don't read your blog so I'm safe.

Abby said...

They do if they're Democrats.

Yeah, I don't get the deal with the Marines, either. Also, the high and tight is not my favorite hairstyle in the military.

Benteti5 said...

What other do's are there? Higher and tighter, aka bald, less high and less tight, low and loose? I personally love a nice head of hair on a guy. Long enough to play with and kinda wavy. However, the head I have to play with is higher and tighter so I just rub. I can't have the hair, but he does look hot in his cami's.

Stephanie B said...

So did the husband jump up and start dancing along? Hee, hee - I'm picturing that in my head, and its pretty funny.

Abby said...

It's funny because it would never, ever happen. He watched it and said, "Great," and walked off.

I think the shortest hair I can stand on a guy is a crew cut. The high and tights are just...eh. I prefer a little more around the sides, you know? Don't get me wrong, I like it short--but shaved? No.

Benteti5 said...

I kinda like it all or nothing. I like bald guys. Well, not all guys can pull that off. I like a brown head. White guys can rarely pull it off. I don't like the gentleman doo too much. I like it a little shaggy unless it's perfectly straight. Then they're kinda hopeless. Then I guess a mohawk works.

Wendy said...

Awesome! But then, I like the singing and dancing... I must be weird, too.

(I used to work the night shift on weekends and saw many of those old musicals on AMC and TCM. I got paid to watch old movies... how cool is that?)