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Up in Arms VHS
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Up in Arms not only introduced Danny Kaye to moviegoing audiences, but marked his first (of several) ventures with producer Samuel Goldwyn. In this 1944 musical set in contemporary time, a hypochondriac has wartime adventures while trying to impress a pretty nurse. With its lush cinematography in vibrant colors that still leap out, the film will nonetheless still have the politically correct police Up in Arms--the portrayals of the Japanese are stereotypical and cringingly embarrassing. Most notably forgettable is a scene in which Kaye's Danny Weems impersonates a Japanese officer and emerges a hero. But remember, the film was released at the height of war--and of American patriotism. Overall, Kaye's talent shines--he performs the lyrical work of wife Sylvia Fine, one of five contributors to the still catchy, still singable songs. And for those who remember Dinah Shore only from either her TV talk show or the popular golf tournament that bears her name, here's a revelation: she was a super talent. She sings, dances, and lights up the screen. Costars Virginia Merrill and Dana Andrews have the thankless roles of straight persons to the charismatic Kaye and Shore, who have a phenomenal dance number that'll leave you humming the tune long after initial viewing. Look for Kaye's subsequent frequent costar Virginia Mayo in a blink-and-you'll-miss-her Goldwyn Girl role. --N.F. Mendoza
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There's not a single memorable song here and Danny's rapidfire scat number is the worst of them. Also, a full scale dream sequence zoot-styled dance number done on a floor covered in dry ice haze is spoiled because Kaye absolutely CANNOT dance. This elaborate piece needed the terpsichorean skills of Gene Kelly, not this spastic clown.
Finally, the story's just DUMB. Pain-in-the-neck Danny gets drafted and he drives everybody in the PTO (including his CO) nuts. Dinah Shore looks greasy here. There's no other way to describe it. Dana Andrews is under-utilized and the fourth part of their little circle, Constance Dowling is a cypher.
Other than the above.... great movie!
As for the rest of the cast-
Maggie Dumont's turn is (for her) uncharacteristically spirited. Elisha Cook Jr. appears, along with Louis Calhern, Benny Baker and Lyle Talbot. Uncredited cameo from Virginia Mayo.
I don't know what the Amazon.com reviewer was thinking when he wrote:
"the film will nonetheless still have the politically correct police Up in Arms--the portrayals of the Japanese are stereotypical and cringingly embarrassing. Most notably forgettable is a scene in which Kaye's Danny Weems impersonates a Japanese officer and emerges a hero."
I am so sick of having decades old films measured by the politically correct standards of today. Let's face facts. The Japanese soldier of World War II was a fanatical and murderous piece of scum. Throwing Chinese babies onto bayonets, beheading American soldiers during the Bataan Death March, running concentration camps where soldiers and civilians were worked and starved to death, setting fire to sick and injured Filipinos in their hospital beds as the Japanese retreated from American forces liberating cities.... Do I really care if a movie made in 1944 while we were in the midst of the largest war in human history, fighting fanaticism and dictatorial abuse, portrays these murderous monsters in a "stereotypical and cringingly embarrassing" manner? Go jump off a cliff!
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