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Monday, October 14, 2013

Strike Up The Band (1940)

A high school student (Mickey Rooney) dreams of having his own dance band while his mother (Ann Shoemaker) wants him to be a doctor. He and his girlfriend (Judy Garland), the band's singer, enter the band in a contest to be held in Chicago in the hopes that winning will put their band on the map. The plots of these Rooney/Garland "Hey gang! Let's put on a show" musicals are so similar it's difficult to tell the films apart. So it's the musical numbers that set them apart. This is the one with the fruit and chocolate cake symphony and the spectacular Conga number choreographed by the film's director, Busby Berkeley. Songwriters Roger Edens and George Stoll come up with a winner in Our Love Affair which nabbed a best song Oscar nomination and there's the swinging Drummer Boy which allows Rooney to show off his drum skills. Other than that, it's pretty hokey with a lot of "Gosh" and "Golly Gee" dialog. There is a nice dramatic scene played straight by Rooney and Shoemaker that's quite touching. With band leader Paul Whiteman as himself and the agile June Preisser as a peroxided baby femme fatale.

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