‘The Gang’s All Here’ | Sunday Observer
Retro Reviews: Cinema of Yesteryear

‘The Gang’s All Here’

1 November, 2020

In this sixth instalment of ‘Retro Reviews: Cinema of Yesteryear’ I wish to discuss with the readers of the Sunday Observer, a masterpiece of Hollywood musical cinema which was even selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in US, after being recognised by The Library of Congress to be a work of American cinema that is “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. Directed and choreographed by Busby Berkeley, ‘The Gang’s All Here’ is a classic of the golden era of Hollywood that brings to the fore the unmatched magic of Hollywood musicals. With its resplendence in song and dance items The Gang’s All Here will swing, sway and swoop the viewer away into a world of theatrical and dramatic fabric of romance and wonder, humour and hilarity!

Among the notable facets for entertainment in this movie is how studiously the element of grand Broadway style dance choreography marked with awe inspiring acrobatic movements have been woven into the narrative. Released in 1943 this movie features the famous song sung by Carmen Miranda The Lady in the Tutti Frutti Hat, as well as several other noteworthy songs such as A Journey to a Star, and No Love, No Nothin, both being sung by Alice Faye.

The premise of the story begins with Sergeant Andy Mason, played by James Ellison, courting and falling in love with the beautiful blond stage entertainer Eadie Allen, played by Alice Faye, who performs at the Club New Yorker, on the eve of his departure to the warfront in the South Pacific. Andy tells Eadie his name is ‘Casey’ and withholds his real identity as he is actually the son of a wealthy Wall Street businessman A. J. Mason, and believes that if she really knew about his background she would be intimidated and take him for a playboy with no serious intentions about her. They bid farewell to each other with the promise to keep in touch and continue their love for each other.

Andy’s war heroism in the South Pacific earns him a medal, and he is granted leave to visit home. Andy’s father is thrilled and plans to throw a welcome home party for his decorated war hero son at the Club New Yorker, where incidentally Andy first saw Eadie.

However, it turns out that the club is closed due to rehearsals for their new show and cannot accommodate a party. Not one to be dissuaded out of his original plan A.J Mason together with his long time friend, neighbour and business partner Peyton Potter, decide to invite the performers to rehearse at their homes, where they can throw a lavish garden party and war bond rally to welcome Andy.

What is the cause for alarm as viewers see is that Andy is shown as being the sweetheart of Peyton’s daughter Vivian as the two families have long been under the impression that the two will eventually marry!

A spate of hilarious and lively events unfolds after the entire troupe of entertainers arrive at the homes of A.J Mason and Mr. and Mrs. Porter, to set the preparations for the show. Among the factors that engender hilarity and ‘sauciness’ to the scene is ‘Dorita’, the luscious Brazilian dancer played brilliantly by Carmen Miranda, who is one of the stars of the ensemble. Among the comedic moments she brings is how she makes her romantic overtures to old fashioned morally stringent Peyton, and also what she does after discovering that Eadie’s ‘Casey’ is actually Vivian’s ‘Andy’ and that the two women are in for a great shock very soon when the war hero arrives for the show being thrown in his honour!

However, what finally transpires amid all the splendorous song, dance and vivacity is that Vivian who is selected by the maestro dancer Tony DeMarco to be his partner in the show, takes up Tony’s offer to be Tony’s permanent dancing partner in Broadway shows, and tells Eadie that she and Andy were not really in love but more of a couple thrust together by their families.

The finale sees a resolution where all confusions are clarified and where no hearts are left broken. The Gang’s All Here is a wonderful example of a classic movie that lives up to the image of ‘spectacular Hollywood’ being embodied in music, song, choreography, costume designs and such elements that makes a story one that becomes a visual treat bringing sensory delight to the audience.

A work that must be hailed as a classic of the world of cinema, The Gang’s All Here is a film that must be seen by all true cinema lovers.