Hollywood Canteen (1944): Stars Entertaining Servicemen

The Hollywood Canteen was set up by some major Hollywood stars, such as Bette Davis and John Garfield (who play themselves), to entertain servicemen during WWII.

Directed by Delmer Daves, the movie consists largely of star cameos, with Robert Hutton and Dane Clark playing servicemen.

Many in the film had volunteered to entertain there: The Andrews Sisters, Jack Benny, Joe E. Brown, Eddie Cantor, Kitty Carlisle, Jack Carson, Joan Crawford, Faye Emerson, Sydney Greenstreet, Alan Hale Sr., Paul Henreid, Joan Leslie, Peter Lorre, Ida Lupino, Dorothy Malone, Dennis Morgan, Janis Paige, Eleanor Parker, Roy Rogers (with Trigger), S.Z. Sakall, Zachary Scott, Alexis Smith, Barbara Stanwyck, Jane Wyman, and Jimmy Dorsey.

The Golden Gate Quartet, an all-black quartet, make an appearance, after appearing at President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s third inaugural (the “first” black performers in White House).

There was a cameo of Joan McCracken in a dance from the musical Oklahoma!

The songs written for the film include Cole Porter’s “Don’t Fence Me In,” which proved to have a more durable appeal than the song nominated for an Oscar, “Sweet Dreams Sweetheart.”

Released by Warner, The Hollywood Canteen was one of the most commercially successful movies of the yea, due to its subject matter, grossing over $4 million at the box-office.

The East Coast counterpart was Stage Door Canteen, celebrated in a 1943 film.

Oscar Nominations: 3

Sound Recording: Nathan Levinson

Song: Sweet Dreams Sweetheart, music by M.K. Jerome, lyrics by Ted Koehler

Scoring of a Musical: Ray Heindorf

Oscar Awards:  None

Oscar Context:

The Song Oscar went to James Van Heusen and Johnny Burke’s Swinging on a Star from the movie Going My Way.

The Sound Oscar went E.H. Hansen for Wilson.

Carmen Dragon and Morris Stoloff won the Scoring Award for Wilson.