Her girl-next-door looks combined with a sultry singing voice made Alice Faye one of Hollywood's biggest stars in the Golden Age of Cinema.
Eadie Allen (Alice Faye) is a chorus girl who dreams of becoming a star. While working at a New York nightclub, she meets Sergeant Andy Mason (James Ellison); they fall in love but he is shipped off to war. As Eadie becomes the headliner at the nightclub, Andy comes home a war hero. But complications arise when Eadie finds out Andy is unofficially engaged to another woman. It's up to Eadie's friend and nightclub co-star Dorita (Carmen Miranda) to set things straight. The Gang's All Here is filled with leggy chorus dancers and lavish musical production numbers including Faye's flashy neon finale "The Polka Dot Polka."
Here's one of Hollywood's great excursions into surrealism: The Gang's All Here
, the legendarily over-the-top wartime musical. Director Busby Berkeley threw every demented idea that every swirled out of his teeming brain into this madcap affair, and decades later the film was still wowing 'em as a campy jaw-dropper.
The plot is the nonsensical stuff of homefront musicals, with chorus girl Alice Faye waiting for soldier boy James Ellison to return from the war, little knowing he is engaged to another woman. But the real point here is the crazy production design and the flabbergasting numbers--most famously, Carmen Miranda's "The Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat," which includes a chorus line of women dancing while holding giant bananas over their heads. It might have been dreamed up by Salvador Dali after an acid trip. Alice gets her due with the equally crazy "Polka-Dot Polka," and Benny Goodman and his orchestra are also around. So are such reliable second bananas (you should excuse the expression) as Edward Everett Horton and high-kicking Charlotte Greenwood.
The DVD extras include a 20-minute documentary on Berkeley's peculiar art, plus a charming 25-promotional film featuring Alice Faye reminiscing about her old pictures and extolling the virtues of physical fitness (made for the Pfizer drug company while Faye was their spokesperson). A deleted comedy scene and two episodes from the long-running radio show Faye did with husband Phil Harris are also included. The print itself is a source of controversy; the colors lack the "pop" of the original Technicolor, and the film looks dimmer and vaguer than its original glory. Here's hoping a cleaner, fuller version will emerge. --Robert Horton