(1942)2.5Bruce EderThe star of this low-budget musical/drama, Vera Lynn, has proved one of the most enduring talents in the history of British popular music -- having first emerged as a singing star at the end of the 1930s, and becoming the raison d'etre for this movie's production in 1942, Lynn topped the UK pop charts in 2009 at the age of 92 with a collection of her World War II-era hits. As to the movie, it was a production of Columbia Pictures' British unit, a low-rent operation whose seams show all over the picture, from the obviously rushed direction to the relatively threadbare sets and hasty camera set-ups. But We'll Meet Again is a fun movie, despite these shortcomings, at least as a period piece. The opening sequence, depicting an audience stranded in a London theater during an air raid, is marvelously effective and affecting, and shows Lynn's appeal as the British girl-next-door. Her acting was never going to be a challenge to Wendy Hiller or Judith Anderson, but it didn't need to be, as she's basically portraying a fictionalized version of herself -- in this case, a dancer who reluctantly discovers that she can sing and, through a series of happy accidents, becomes a star with her voice. Frederick Leister and Brefni O'Rourke are the most impressive acting names in the cast, and Patricia Roc -- a supporting player here -- would become much more prominent later in the 1940s in films for The Rank Organisation. And Donald Gray, seen here before the combat injury that would cost him an arm, would become well-known as a character lead and voice actor, in films and on television, right into the 1960s. And of that is more interesting than the pedestrian direction and easily telegraphed plot of this wartime morale-booster -- as it was at the time of its release, the best parts of We'll Meet Again are the music and the war, and Lynn's honest, easy-going natural charm.
This musical is loosely based upon the career of the British "Forces' Sweetheart" Vera Lynn, a popular BBC radio singer who spent much time entertaining the troops in London. It all begins when she falls in love with a Scottish soldier who breaks her heart when he jilts her in favor of her best friend. Following the break up, she decides to leave London and spend her time entertaining troops all over Europe.