The only connection Strike Up the Band has with the stage musical from which it is drawn is the glorious George and Ira Gershwin title tune. The movie is saddled with a typical "let's put on a show" plot, although for variety this time it's a show involving an orchestra. The dialogue runs exactly as you expect it to, but it still has a certain naïve charm that makes it fun, and the "Nell of New Rochelle" melodrama is amusing. The real reason for seeing Band, of course, is the stars. Mickey Rooney gives a quintessential Mickey Rooney performance, which means that some will love it and some will hate it. He's energetic and effervescent, especially in the "Drummer Boy" sequence; if ever a performer gave everything to his work, it's Rooney. But he also has some gentle, more subdued moments, and his duet with Judy Garland on "Our Love Affair" is charming. Garland is in great form and voice, singing the blazes out of "Nobody" and "The La Conga." Director Busby Berkeley works some of his military marching magic on the title tune and shoots "The La Conga" from just about every angle possible. Most impressive, however, is the bizarre but fascinating sequence in which a symphony orchestra is created from a table full of fruit. Band would be followed soon after by another Rooney-Garland-Berkeley effort, Babes on Broadway.
by Craig Butler review