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Hollywood Canteen (1944) Online

Hollywood Canteen (1944) Online
Original Title :
Hollywood Canteen
Genre :
Movie / Comedy / Musical / Romance
Year :
Directror :
Delmer Daves
Cast :
Bette Davis,John Garfield,The Andrews Sisters
Writer :
Delmer Daves
Type :
Time :
2h 4min
Rating :
Hollywood Canteen (1944) Online

Two soldiers on sick leave spend three nights at the Hollywood Canteen before going back to active duty. With a little friendly help from John Garfield, Slim gets to kiss Joan Leslie, whom he has been dreaming about while in the Pacific. He meets her later at the Farmer's Market. On the third night, Slim is the millionth man into the Canteen, earning him a date with Joan. Slim thinks he's been duped when she doesn't show up at his train. Slim's buddy Sergant dances with Joan Crawford. Canteen President Bette Davis praises the canteen and the war effort. Virtually everyone Warners could spare entertains.
Cast overview, first billed only:
The Andrews Sisters The Andrews Sisters - The Andrews Sisters (as Andrews Sisters)
Jack Benny Jack Benny - Jack Benny
Joe E. Brown Joe E. Brown - Joe E. Brown
Eddie Cantor Eddie Cantor - Eddie Cantor
Kitty Carlisle Kitty Carlisle - Kitty Carlisle
Jack Carson Jack Carson - Jack Carson
Dane Clark Dane Clark - Sgt. Nowland
Joan Crawford Joan Crawford - Joan Crawford
Helmut Dantine Helmut Dantine - Helmut Dantine
Bette Davis Bette Davis - Bette Davis
Faye Emerson Faye Emerson - Faye Emerson
Victor Francen Victor Francen - Victor Francen
John Garfield John Garfield - John Garfield
Sydney Greenstreet Sydney Greenstreet - Sydney Greenstreet
Alan Hale Alan Hale - Alan Hale

Joan Crawford, so the myth goes, found out that Bette Davis and Barbara Stanwyck were slated to be in the film as well; she reportedly asked about the billing. After being told it was alphabetical, she realized that "C" came before "D" or "S", and agreed to do the film.

Originally conceived by Warner Bros. as a multi-studio (like the actual Hollywood Canteen) WWII effort with rival studios (Fox, Paramount, MGM, etc.) contributing cameo appearances by its stars. But when other studios balked at having performers appear (even though profits were reportedly earmarked for war effort), Warner turned it into a single-studio affair.

In the first scene, on New Guinea, when the soldiers assemble for mail call, the first name called is "Chris Nyby". Christian Nyby was the film editor of the picture.

Ann Sheridan was supposed to have the female lead in this movie. However, Sheridan declined the role feeling the script was too unrealistic.

The first film appearance by Joan Crawford since she bought her way out of her MGM contract in 1942.

Other than her big dance number here, Joan McCracken (who was in the original cast of Broadway's Oklahoma) was only featured prominently in one other major movie: She was the lead dancer in the soda fountain musical number in 1947's Good News.

Cole Porter's genial, "unsophisticated" cowboy song, "Don't Fence Me In," via the Decca recording by Bing Crosby (who did not appear in the picture) and The Andrews Sisters, reigned as the number-one "Billboard" single for eight weeks, between December 23, 1944 and February 10, 1945.

Bette Davis and John Gar field are credited with being among of the "founders" of the actual Hollywood Canteen, organizing the entire concept into one of the highlights of many an enlisted man's memory of serving in World War Il. They also played a major role in recruiting movie stars, musical artists and celebrities of every kind to entertain the troops, dance with them, and even staff the Canteen, serving as waitresses, bus boys and dishwashers.

The striped dress worn here by Janis Page when she dances with Dane Clark was later seen on Doris Day in 1949's It's a Great Feeling, during the scene where Day masquerades as a French starlet newly signed by Warner Brothers.

This film was part of Warner Brothers' efforts to turn contract player Dane Clark into a top tier star. Although he would later co-star with Bette Davis in A Stolen Life, and got first billing in a handful of Warner B movies, Clark never quite achieved stardom, but did amass over 150 credits (many of them guest gigs on TV shows of the 50s and 60s) during his four decade career.

The Mocambo (visited by Joan Leslie and Robert Hutton) was an actual club in West Hollywood that was very popular during the 40's and 50's. The club opened in 1941 and was an immediate success. In the film, Slim and Joan Leslie bump into Eleanor Parker and Helmut Dantine outside the club, which was an accurate depiction of the Mocambo's clientele. The club was frequented by numerous film stars and celebrities, including such names as Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Errol Flynn, Charlie Chaplin, Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner, Tyrone Power, Judy Garland, Bob Hope, John Wayne, James Cagney, Louis B. Meyer, and Howard Hughes. The Mocambo closed its doors on June 30th, 1958.

User reviews



Be ready to sit back and be gloriously entertained for 2 hours. The Hollywood Canteen was a real place that was the idea of John Garfield who enlisted the help of Bette Davis and they took it from there. Bette got Jules Stein (head of Warner Brothers) involved and it really took off from there. Then they made the movie, the bulk of the proceeds went to the Hollywood Canteen. The stars just keep on coming and they all put on a show. Here is your chance to see them virtually in their prime or heading into their prime. Nothing boring here. Then there is the love story between Joan Leslie and Robert Hutton (there was a tremendous chemistry between them on the screen). Sure it would never happen in real life but it certainly would be every soldier's fantasy that it could happen. And that would keep a lot of spirits up in cold fox holes. I can see why it was such a success when it came out. The Hollywood Canteen closed after V-J day. It had $500,000 left in bank account. That was used to set up a foundation to fund projects for the armed services and it is still going today!


If you want suspense, drama, excitement - find another movie. This is pure entertainment with a huge cast of top name stars. The story is a poor excuse to parade the big names, but who cares about plot when you have this historical document demonstrating how "old fashion decent folks" used to behave. The canteen was real, the stars banded together to do their part for the war effort. As a retired military officer I remember the good days when the military was respected and treated just as good as it was shown in the movie.

I could never imagine todays self centered stars banding together to do something similar to the Hollywood canteen. Hurray for Hollywood - the real entertainment folks with true talent.


I am a great fan of the late John Garfield. If you are a Garfield buff, it may surprise you to learn that anyone would consider Hollywood Canteen a great Garfield film since he's on screen for such a very short time and since he did so many more "substantive" vehicles like "Body and Soul", "Gentleman's Agreement", "The Breaking Point", and "Force of Evil".

But you'd have to understand that the idea for the real Hollywood Canteen originated with Garfield, supposedly after he paid a visit to the famous Stage Door Canteen in New York. He got together with Bette Davis, and between them they persuaded all the major studios to support a similar place in Hollywood where servicemen could relax, have fun, and mingle with movie stars.

The movie's plot is utterly preposterous, but that makes no difference. The chemistry between stars Joan Leslie and Robert Hutton is wonderful. Joan's role was originally to have been played by Ann Sheridan, but she turned it down because she, too, thought the idea of a soldier on leave falling in love with a movie star at the Canteen and actually getting a chance to spend some with her was ridiculous.

In my opinion, Joan turned out to be absolutely perfect. She was quite young when the movie was made (only 18 or 19), but one of Warner Brothers' most popular actresses of the early 1940s.

Formal reviews of Hollywood Canteen at the time it was released tended to pan the movie, even though it was a commercial success. But for today's audiences it's two hours of great fun. There are terrific song and dance numbers by some of Hollywood's best.

The great irony of this movie has to do with what happened to John Garfield. Declared 4-F because of a heart condition, Garfield repeatedly tried to enlist but was turned down. He gave tirelessly of himself, entertaining troops in USO shows stateside and in Europe. Even Bette Davis acknowledged that he was the driving force behind the Canteen.

So it is inconceivable to me that someone who gave so much of himself to the war effort could have been blacklisted as a communist sympathizer. His career and his life were ruined, and he died suddenly in May, 1952.

As the great playwright, Clifford Odets, wrote in his letter to The New York Times the Sunday after Garfield died, "Despite any and all gossip to the contrary, I, who was in a position to know, state without equivocation that of all his possessions Garfield was proudest of his American heritage, even rudely so."

Anyway, enough of this heavy stuff. If you get a chance to see Hollywood Canteen, don't miss it. It's great entertainment.


The film is an excellent period piece... one of those Hollywood wartime spectaculars that sort of carries out that sense of wartime thrift -- use just enough plot to glue the songs lightly together, and make sure you wave the flag enough to produce some enthusiasm for the "Buy War Bonds" trailer. The plot's thin, the music's good, the dancing OK, and it's actually pretty cool to see stars being "themselves." Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet are hilarious in a two-minute gag that evokes "The Maltese Falcon."


"Hollywood Canteen" is the story of the actual organization that fed and entertained soldiers during World War II, started by Bette Davis and John Garfield, both of whom appear in the film. Actual female movie stars served as hostesses and danced with the lonely soldiers. In this story, Slim (Robert Hutton) meets his fantasy woman, Joan Leslie, at the Canteen, and when he later becomes the one millionth man to enter the Canteen, he's allowed to choose her as his date for the weekend. Dane Clark plays his buddy.

If you were at Warner Brothers in the '40s, you were in this movie, with very few exceptions. There was some wonderful musical performing as well, tops in my book being Carmen Cavallaro and Jack Benny's duet on the violin with Joseph Szigeti. You can also hear the Andrews Sisters, Roy Rogers and Trigger, Eddie Cantor, Benny Goodman and many others.

All of the women looked stunning, including Davis, Alexis Smith, Eleanor Parker, Jane Wyman, Joan Leslie, Barbara Stanwyck, Ida Lupino, Joan Crawford, and an unbelievably young and gorgeous Janis Paige. There were also appearances by Dennis Morgan, Jack Carson, Sidney Greenstreet, Helmet Dantine, Paul Henried, and Peter Lorre.

It was all very interesting but some of the numbers went on a bite long. However, if you're of that era, it will bring back some tremendous memories. Hutton (Barbara Hutton's cousin) was an interesting actor, likable and very reminiscent of Jimmy Stewart. He continued to work in Hollywood for another 30 years but never achieved stardom. Most fascinating to me was seeing and hearing Kitty Carlisle as she performed "Once to Every Heart," realizing that this film was made 62 years ago - and Kitty just performed her nightclub act, at 95, in New York City. God bless her.

By the way, female servicewomen were not allowed in the Hollywood Canteen. I can't remember who it was, but eventually someone started tea dances for the women soldiers to give them someplace to go on leave. For shame.


Hollywoodcanteen was made in 1944 as World War II was hitting it's peak. This star-studded film, captures a time now long gone-the glamor which was Hollywood.

Robert Hutton plays Corporal Slim Green. A purple-heart winner on a one week leave in Hollywood, California. After catching the local sights, he goes to the Hollywoodcanteen for servicemen in the hopes of meeting his dream girl, Joan Leslie. The innocence of this romance is a real trip down memory lane; when a kiss, a gentle touch, and a starry-eyed stare meant everything.

Dane Clark as Hutton's sidekick from New York, Sgt. Nolan, steals the show. Clark is at his finest, as the wounded buddy trying his best to find a girl of his own. He finally does in the stunningly beautiful Janis Paige. As Angela, Paige is witty, sexy, and sets the screen ablaze.

The farewell ending at the train station (re-acted in the 1979 Richard Gere film, YANKS), is one of the most moving and romantic in screen history.

An enjoyable, upbeat, romantic, and entertaining movie.


Simple story that would inspire any soldier or soldier to be. Serve your country and you could be rewarded with being supported and entertained by top Movie Stars!

Two soldiers on leave wander thru Hollywood and Vine area and there they find the Hollywood Canteen, a USO for all branches of the service. Many famous actresses and actors volunteer to entertain and/or dance with lonely servicemen, chat with the homesick men, and serve the young soldiers food and drink.

Our story follows one of the soldiers that has a crush on actress Joan Leslie and his dream of meeting the beautiful actress. Suddenly he gets a real "Hollywood" welcome by becoming the 1 millionth man to enter the USO canteen. His prize, a date with the Hollywood Actress of his choice.

Fun to see Bette Davis, Joan Leslie, Joan Crawford, Jane Wyman, and many more famous women in their dewy youth. Great to see handsome John Garfield, Alan Hale, Jack Carson,+ more in their younger years.

Great entertainment by Roy Rogers, Dorsey Band, Andrew Sisters and Eddie Cantor.


I've got a weak spot when it comes to these all star extravaganzas which can never be again. With the old Hollywood studio system gone there's no place where all this talent can gather under one roof for the same picture. Put a film like this today it would have the budget of a second world country.

The plots of these things are invariably silly, in this one it's GI Robert Hutton becoming the one millionth serviceman to enter the Hollywood Canteen and he gets an all expense weekend there with the girl of his dreams, Warner Brothers star Joan Leslie. That was part of the mythology of the day, if the film were done at Columbia Rita Hayworth might have been the object of Hutton's desires. That one I can believe a little more.

The Hollywood Canteen in real life was the inspiration and personal project of Bette Davis and John Garfield and they preside over the film and it's many guest stars, mostly from the Warner Brothers lot.

One exception to the rule was Roy Rogers who came over from Republic Pictures and brought the Sons of the Pioneers with him. I wonder what Herbert J. Yates got out of Jack Warner for Rogers's services? Anyway Roy gets to introduce the Cole Porter classic Don't Fence Me In in this film.

Later on the Andrews Sisters sing it and they had a big hit record with Don't Fence Me In with Decca though they sang it with a well known crooner from that other studio Paramount for Decca Records.

Joan Crawford made her first appearance at Warner Brothers in this film after leaving MGM. She dances with GI Dane Clark who after seeing combat in the Pacific faints at the realization he's dancing with JOAN CRAWFORD. Those were the days.

Still I love these films so.


I suspect that even during the WWII era when this movie was released the romance between Joan Leslie and Robert Hutton must have seemed pretty far-fetched. And that's the only thing that drags it into the syrupy and silly category. The effort led by Bette Davis and John Garfield to entertain, free of charge, allied servicemen was worthwhile and a credit to all the fine entertainers who volunteered their time. And so, apart from the fake love story, the film shines. The musical numbers are captivating, especially Carmen Cavallaro and Benny Goodman, and this movie is worth seeing just for them. One also gets the feeling that the stars were more natural, less glamorous. They seemed to let their hair down so to speak, doing this just for the fun of it. The one standout performer is Janis Paige who unlike most of the other actors doesn't even play herself. She steals every scene and makes the movie memorable. This was her third film and it was in fact in the real Hollywood Canteen she was discovered and signed to a contract by Warners. By contrast the headliners, Leslie and Hutton, are entirely forgettable and so cute they're annoying. See this movie for the music and Janis Paige and skip the romance.


This movie in and of itself is only a curio piece, During the war (WWII), there was a Hollywood Canteen staffed by celebrities for military personnel and this film grew out of that effort. What is worth watching are the musical numbers, particularly one fairly early in the movie, called, "The General Jumped at Dawn" by a group called, "The Golden Gate Quartet". They're excellent and this is the only place I've ever seen or heard of them. I don't know what happened to them. but for me, they are the highlight of the movie! Not a great movie, but worth your time nonetheless.


Hollywood Canteen (1944)

*** (out of 4)

The Hollywood Canteen club was started by Bette Davis and John Garfield as a way for Hollywood to show support to U.S. Troops who were heading overseas. The club offered the service people a chance to meet, dance and be waited on by various celebrities from Hollywood. This movie here gathers up some of the biggest people in the business and we're given a side story of a soldier (Robert Hutton) getting a three day pass and spending it at the club where he meets and falls in love with Joan Leslie. If you're looking for a film with a story then you're not going to find it here. Many people have attacked this film for being stupid and I understand that but at the same time this thing offers up a chance to see the actual club and we also get some of the biggest stars every put together for a film. A lot of the cameos are rather silly and of course everyone is introduced by name but it's still quite fun seeing so many people in one film. Not only do we get Davis, Garfield and Leslie but there's dozens of other stars including the likes of Crawford, Stanwyck, Lorre, Greenstreet, Rogers (and Trigger), Benny, Parker, Alexis Smith, Ida Lupino, Henried, Brown and countless others. Seeing these stars in one picture is reason enough to check it out and there are also some musical numbers to keep you entertained. I think the film works best during the first hour when we're inside the club and the various stars are just making cameos. Once the love story kicks in things gets extremely silly and obviously staged but both Hutton and especially Leslie are charming enough to keep you slightly entertained. At 124-minutes the film does run out of gas before it's over with but film buffs should still enjoy it.


Almost every face in this movie was a notable star but only a handful are remembered today. A few, like Joe E. Brown, I knew only from caricatures in cartoons.

The musical performances are the best part, in fact, I fast-forwarded through most of the cringe-worthy story sections to concentrate on those. The story almost seems like a horrible joke on any real servicemen who might have seen this.

As others have noted, one of the highlights is the Golden Gate Quartet number. I've read that studios had to plan scenes with substantial black performers ( i.e. those not portraying servants) so that they could be cut from the movie without damaging the story. Southern white audiences demanded that. It is very much in evidence here. Unlike most of the other musical segments they have no tie-in with the action on the floor.

Too bad someone couldn't come up with a better story to tie it all together but the time-capsule nature of it makes up for some of that.


A slim story, a grab-bag of musical interludes (some good, some bad), "Hollywood Canteen" is a long, uneven tribute to the great Hollywood Canteen begun by stars like Bette Davis and John Garfield.

But, oh that corn! The story features a star-struck soldier (Robert Hutton) with a yen to meet Joan Leslie. The storyline spins around their meeting, their romance, misunderstandings and--well, the usual Hollywood bittersweet ending as he goes off to war.

Along the way there are some nice bits by the Warner contract players, the best of which are Jack Benny (and violin), Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Paul Henried and Barbara Stanwyck. Good music by Carmen Cavallaro and His Orchestra, Sons of the Pioneers and The Andrews Sisters. Fun to see Roy Rogers and Trigger as he does "Don't Fence Me In".

But the script is a sappy thing, a hodge-podge of well-worn cliches that defeats Dane Clark (as a rather brash, obnoxious kind of soldier) and everyone else--mushy and sentimental and corny to the nth degree. A nice surprise is Bette Davis--she looks wonderful and gives a charming and natural performance as herself.

Ann Sheridan refused to play the role of the movie star and was replaced by Joan Leslie. She said it was unrealistic to depict the romance between a movie star and a starry-eyed soldier as ever happening at the canteen. I guess she knew what she was doing.

If you enjoy star-filled musicals, take a peek instead at "Thank Your Lucky Stars", a much more entertaining piece of silliness with an all-star cast.


During this era, even variety show films, such as this, were thought to require at least a bit of popup romance and romantic drama. But, in this one, this gets way out of hand! Robert Hutton's fixation on Joan Leslie dominates the screen play throughout. And when this duo isn't on screen, a rather sinister-looking Dane Clark is likely trying to flirt with one of several stars. Ida Lupino looks uncomfortable while he's trying to impress her(They would later star in the unjustly forgotten "Deep Valley", as an unlikely tragic 'looser' couple). I understand that this was supposed to allow lonely soldiers to identify with the nobody soldiers cavorting with Hollywood stars, but makes for a tedious film for post-war audiences. Warner's war relief-supporting multistar vehicles of the previous year :"This is the Army" and "Thank Your Lucky Stars" have withstood the test of time as entertainment much better, on the whole. Looks like Warners ran low on 'gas' for this one, although there are a number of entertaining acts. More so than those other films, this one was too much of a 'spot the stars' film and was partly a PR film to spotlight the existence of the canteen. This was fine during the war, but of little interest to today's viewers. Yes, the Andrew Sisters did a couple of songs, though not their best. Don't know why they followed Roy Roger's "Don't Fence Me In" with their own rendition of the same song?? Eddie Cantor did a short skit, but you see much more of him in "Thank Your Lucky Stars". Alexis Smith was a mere 5 sec. presence vs. her beautiful romantic dance in the above film. Jack Benny is his usual arrogant boring stage self. Even Warner's premier tenor, Dennis Morgan, prominently featured in the above film, comes off rather flat with a not very good song.

On the other hand, Jane Wyman and Jack Carson are entertaining with "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?". Jane should have been a singing actress in other roles, besides the later tribute to Cole Porter: "Night and Day". In fact, she once was a radio singer, while waiting for some film studio to sign her. Her comment about being Reaganized(Ronnie was her then husband) suggests she knew something of his future political plans. Jimmy Dorsey's band backs up many of the numbers and is featured in the lively "King Porter Stomp". Unfortunately, he would have to dissolve his band in a few years..The lullaby-like "Sweet Dreams, Sweetheart" is sung by Joan Leslie(dubbed) and, again near the end, by Kitty Carlisle, mainly for the benefit of Robert Hutton's character. But, the standout performance for spectator interest is the very well choreographed dance production starring the very energetic Joan McCracken, who had several Broadway shows, including Oklahoma, to her credit. Her dancing would be featured in only a couple of Hollywood films. One wonders why she didn't have a more prominent film career. Unfortunately, she suffered from diabetes 1 and would die rather young from its complications....Rosario and Antonio follow with an excellent, if stereotypical, Spanish dance. Third place in the dance category goes to Trigger(Roy Roger's horse), who danced to "Don't Fence Me In". The African American Glden Gate Quartette also showed promise with their rather non-descript novelty song.


I saw this after seeing "Stage Door Canteen," and while this film, for obvious reasons, seems to have more star-power in it as far as traditional Hollywood goes, I found "Stage Door" more compelling, both in the acting of the principal characters and the touching nature of the story. I also thought the actual set looked more realistic on "Stage Door." This one looked more contrived. Finally, I found the Roy Rogers bit with Trigger a little bit of a reach. That was a little too "Hollywood." And they really dragged out "Don't Fence Me In." Still, this is worth seeing for all the stars who are in it. These films are worth their weight for that reason alone.


Lots of fun as Hollywood stars pretend to be themselves to entertain the troops. It's all very apple pie and way over long, with musical numbers varying greatly in quality, but with that cast who cares?

Highlights are Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet and Jane Wyman declaring that she's been "Reagan-ized"! But do you believe that Joan Leslie lived in a little cottage with a white picket fence, with her Mom, Pop, Sis and sheep-dog, and was too pure to let a man into her house while her folks were out?

I also think that this film must have made a lot of servicemen believe that by going to the canteen a movie star would fall in love with them. How disappointed they must have been.


This film was based on a real place--the Hollywood Canteen was a place where men on leave from the war could drop by and get free food and drinks. Also actors and actresses volunteered to run the canteen for free. The VERY skimpy story has two buddies--Cpl. Ed "Slim" Green (Robert Hutton) and Sgt. Nowland (Dane Clark)--going to the canteen. It seems Slim is obsessed with actress Joan Leslie. Bette Davis and John Garfield arrange a meeting. They meet--kiss--and fall in love. Just like real life huh? Throughout we have musical acts (wait till you see Roy Rogers and Trigger!) which aren't bad and various actors doing cameos. The ones I recognized were Joe E. Brown, Barbara Stanwyck, Jack Carson, Jane Wyman (who makes a crack about being "Reaganized"!), Bette Davis, John Garfield, Eddie Cantor, Ida Lupino, the Andrews Sisters, Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre (gently kidding their bad guy images), Alexis Smith, Dennis Moragn, Joan Crawford and Jack Benny.

Basically this just becomes a "spot the stars" movie. It was kind of fun to see the actors NOT playing parts but the story was incredibly stupid, the dialogue was terrible and it runs over two hours! Add to this that Hutton couldn't act (he was tall and handsome though) and Clark is cracking bad jokes nonstop. Leslie however is very good in her role. It's worth seeing if you're a fan of old Hollywood movies but some of this is really a struggle to get through. I give it a 6.


In 1941, America took a turn for the worse when the naval base known as Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese, and was issued a declaration of war from Nazi Germany, thus pulling the country into the second World War. While our military forces were combating the enemy overseas, at home, we also contributed to their effort by buying war bonds, recycling important materials such as metal and rubber, among other things. Hollywood, especially, had a big part in this, with every major studio producing propaganda and war-themed shorts (both animated and live- action) and feature films that encouraged our troops overseas as well as took our minds off the mayhem. Why did I give you this little history lesson, you ask? Well, when I said that Hollywood had a big part in supporting our own troops and allied forces, they did more than just make films.

In 1942, actors John Garfield and Bette Davis, along with the former president of the Music Corporation of America, Dr. Jules Stein, opened up an exclusive club reserved only for servicemen called the Hollywood Canteen. There, men who were on leave from military service, whether local or from one of the allied countries, got to relax and enjoy food, drink, dancing, and entertainment from some of Hollywood's greatest performers until they were ordered to return to active duty. Many of the performers also served as waiters, dishwashers, and cooks, believe it or not. The canteen would stay open up until the end of the war in 1945. In 1944, however, the place was so popular amongst the public that Warner Brothers Pictures decided to make a musical motion picture based around the establishment.

This two-hour picture, filmed entirely in black-and-white, had one of the biggest star rosters in film history at the time, with most of the stars playing themselves, including founders Bette Davis and John Garfield, as well as Peter Lorre, Joan Crawford, Joe E. Brown, The Andrews Sisters, Jack Carson, Roy Rogers (along with Trigger, "the smartest horse in the movies"), among others. There is a story underlying this, though. It's about two Army soldiers who served in the South Pacific, with one of them, named Slim, falling in love with film actress Joan Leslie, who reminds him of his past fiancée. On the third night, Slim becomes the millionth customer, and wins a date with Joan. It then becomes a romantic drama between the two, as they both have feelings for one another. Thus, Joan makes it her goal to give Slim the best night he's ever had before he goes back to active duty.

Aside from the story, the film is mainly a variety show, featuring several musical numbers and skits performed by the stars. A musical, it may be, but it's not the kind of musical where a character sporadically breaks into song a la Rodgers & Hammerstein in order to move the plot along. Even though the underlying storyline is put aside throughout a good portion of the picture, the film does not stray from its main attraction: the canteen itself and what it accomplished for our troops. The film got mixed reception from critics upon release, but audiences were all over it, with 40% of the ticket sales going to the real canteen.

The film was enjoyable to watch, and serves as a time capsule of a bright moment in U.S. history during a dark time. Warner Bros. even made a parody/tribute of this film two years later via an animated Merrie Melodies short entitled "Hollywood Canine Canteen", which featured dogs that were reminiscent of Hollywood stars. This short can be seen as a bonus feature on the DVD. As for the film, an entertaining, yet informative watch for history and WWII buffs.


This film is, on a dramatic level, a lot of Hollywood hokum and hooey. But on another level, it is a quasi-documentary. The Hollywood Canteen did exist in 1944 and did feature the efforts of stars and starlets, giving their all for the GIs.

Like many films produced during the WWII years, Hollywood Canteen played a role in the attempts to bolster morale overseas and on the home front. What better way to do that than to create this fantasy about a GI on leave who visits the canteen, meets his dream girl--who happens to be a starlet--and falls in love. The preposterous part is that she also falls in love with him.

The GI, Slim, (played by Robert Hutton) has been dreaming about actress Joan Leslie (played by herself) as he served his country. Visiting the canteen, his only wish is to meet Miss Leslie. Thanks to the machinations of John Garfield, Bette Davis and others, he gets his wish and more. Slim is a humble everyman who might have been portrayed by Jimmy Stewart (except that Jimmy was dropping bombs on Germany from a B-24 in real life). His pal (Dane Clark) is a not-so-humble operator who meets another starlet from Warner Brothers who won't give him the time of day. But it turns out that the "starlet" is really just a studio tour guide (Janis Paige). Ms. Page is really delightful in her role as the girl who eventually gives in to the soldier's rough charms.

I was somewhat surprised that HC was filmed in B&W. But the camera work, lighting and other production values show a sense of pride, despite the fact that they could have just slapped this star vehicle together. And what stars! The cast is a roundup of current talent from Warner Brothers. Since the setting is a canteen, numerous musical performances are included.

With violinist Joseph Szigeti as his straight man, Jack Benny proves it takes a real musician to play as "badly" as he does.

Joan McCracken is the principal dancer in the Ballet in Jive dance number. She was Bob Fosse's second wife. I was surprised when I read that she had been a rockette, because of her diminutive stature, but she was 5'5" and research shows that that was the minimum height for rockettes in her time.

Also notable is a singing number by Kitty Carlisle.

This film was a love letter to servicemen everywhere (and American allies too!). As sappy as it might be, it is a lovely time capsule that captures the real hopes of Americans invested in the war effort and the soldiers who fought so far from home.


On the whole, this doesn't hold a candle to the genuinely entertaining stars-go-all-out-for-the-war-effort variety film "Thank Your Lucky Stars." But if you keep your finger on the fast forward, especially during the hideously false ordinary-boy-dates-Joan-Leslie episodes, you'll know where to stop. Landmarks include the fleeting moment in which Peter Lorre fondles the metal on a U.S. officer's chest with a memorably insane look in his eyes; the Andrews Sisters singing "Don't Fence Me In" and Eddie Cantor, if you go in for that sort of thing; and last but most of all Broadway dancer Joan McCracken, proving that she taught her husband Bob Fosse every damn thing he ever knew.


As someone who really likes musicals, a genre with a lot of great ones, a lot of good ones but also some mediocre ones and some bad ones. It is easy to see why people don't like musicals, but to me they are a much better genre than given credit for.

'Hollywood Canteen' is one of the good and enjoyable musicals, it has some big caveats and could have been much better, also a little disappointing considering the calibre of talent involved. However there are a huge number of strengths here, and it is easy to get much enjoyment from it.

One of 'Hollywood Canteen's' biggest problems is the story, which is very thin on the ground and lacks energy in places when not a musical number. The dialogue is far too corny and sappy, and often cringe-worthy. There are also two problems that don't make the grade. Robert Hutton is very wooden and quite a big blank in his role. Worse is Dane Clark, who is a non-entity as an actor and generates little charm or likability.

Conversely, 'Hollywood Canteen' looks great, being very nicely filmed and with beautiful black and white. The songs are simply terrific, with the enormous entertaining "Don't Fence Me In", the heartfelt "Sweet Dreams Sweetheart" beautifully performed by Kitty Carlisle and the energetic "The General Jumped at Dawn".

The dancing and choreography has real verve and energy, that more than makes for the story and scripting flaws. The ending is very heartfelt. The film is mostly solidly directed, and with the exception of Hutton and Clark there is little to dislike about the cast. Joan Leslie and Kitty Carlisle are particularly strong, and there is great value generated by the Andrews Sisters and The Golden Gate Quartette. The cameos are a lot of fun too, with Bette Davis and Joan Crawford looking wonderful.

In summary, enjoyable stuff that could have been better. 7/10 Bethany Cox


All-star Warner Bros. hokum about a soldier (Robert Hutton) with the biggest crush on Joan Leslie. Who can blame him? So he spends his leave at the Hollywood Canteen meeting various stars and, of course, the lovely Joan Leslie herself. The story is slight but it's just an excuse to promote the Hollywood Canteen, a club that offered free food and entertainment to servicemen during World War II. The Canteen's founders, Bette Davis and John Garfield, are among the many movie stars that appear here. Ann Sheridan is one of the few stars that doesn't appear, despite her name being dropped repeatedly.

It is a little bit self-congratulatory, with movie stars patting themselves on the back for what good people they are. Some things never change as that's still the case today. But, cynicism aside, it's all good fun and completely charming. There are lots of musical performances from the likes of the Andrews Sisters, Roy Rogers, Sons of the Pioneers, Jimmy Dorsey and His Orchestra, and several actors. Highlights among the cameos is Joan Crawford's first appearance under contract to WB and Syndey Greenstreet & Peter Lorre spooking a Marine. It's not high art but it's a good time and it made me smile.


Not sure what's worse, the corny, adolescent dialogue or the horribly bad grammar. Were servicemen really that illiterate back then? I watched this after seeing Stage Door Canteen, and although this had more star power, I think the "story" (and I use that term very loosely) was much worse. This cornfest is only redeemed by Bette Davis, John Garfield and the subtly hilarious Jack Benny. To be watched only as a timepiece of a bygone era; don't expect to be entertained.


If you are a fan of the movie stars of the early 40's, this film is a real treat. Though the plot is real thin, the opportunity to see some of your favorite stars in a humble, and contrived, environment is great.

The story, which revolves around the titled nightclub - purportedly a refuge for soldiers on leave during World War II, is about a soldier (played by Robert Hutton) who gets to meet, and be kissed by, his favorite starlit, Joan Leslie, at the establishment. Through a comic circumstance, he is later the 1,000,000 soldier to walk through its doors such that he gets a dream date with the starlit of his choosing (Leslie again). His buddy and fellow soldier (Dane Clark) also gets to meet, and then date, someone who pretends to be an actress (Janis Page), but that actually just works at a studio.

During the course of this 2+ hour "story", several actors and actresses are seen as guest waiters, waitresses, and/or bartenders as well as performers of acts at the Canteen, doing little bits to entertain the soldiers and/or the moviegoer. John Garfield and Bette Davis, who evidently opened the facility, serve as its main host and hostess, respectively. Ida Lupino plays herself, and someone who soldier Clark tries to impress with his broken French, before he realizes she speaks it fluently. Joan Crawford, also playing herself, is someone Clark dances with before he asks her if anyone has told her that she looks just like ..., to which she responds "yes, my husband". Barbara Stanwyck plays a bartender the soldiers recognize. Jack Carson pokes fun at himself as one of the waiters who introduces the fellas around.

Eleanor Parker is someone that Hutton and Leslie run into on their date as she exits another nightclub. S. Z. Sakall is the waiter that lets everyone pinch his cheeks. Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet play two nefarious characters found in the club. The acts include Jimmy Dorsey's band, comedian Eddie Cantor, the Andrews Sisters, Roy Rogers with Trigger, Jack Benny with violin in a duel of sorts with maestro violinist Joseph Szigeti, and Dennis Morgan performing (singing), among others.

The film was directed and written by Delmer Daves; it received Oscar nominations for original song "Sweet Dreams Sweetheart", Score, and Sound. Other than those mentioned above, Alexis Smith, Joe E. Brown, Kitty Carlisle, Alan Hale, Paul Heinreid as a dishwasher, Andrea King, and dozens of others, credited or uncredited also appear. It follows another similarly written "story" and film by Daves, Stage Door Canteen (1943), set in New York City.


Was awaiting assignment at Ft. Douglas, Utah when the movie of the week was "Hollywood Canteen". 'Don't Fence Me In' and 'Sweet Dreams, Sweetheart' became instant hits for me. The former became an instant hit for a smaller group during the Evacuation of the Pacific Coast. 68 years later, watched a tape of the movie again after also watching "Stagedoor Canteen". Having become a movie fan before starting kindergarten, have seen and forgotten many movies. The 'Canteen' movies plus "Thank Your Lucky Stars" and "Follow the Boys" are among those always remembered. Would agree with Ann Sheridan (the OOMPH girl) that the story was unlikely. Would agree that Janis Paige did herself proud with her performance. Am grateful to reviewer Dr Fox for setting the record straight for John Garfield. Feel that endings for the 'Canteen' pictures were actual and real for many GI's. I speak, of course, of the bittersweet partings, not of the 'movie star' involved. If you survived WWII or would like to learn more about it, see it ! !