Thousands Cheer (1943)

Genres - Musical  |   Sub-Genres - Musical Romance  |   Release Date - Sep 13, 1943 (USA)  |   Run Time - 126 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

One of the better of Hollywood's all-star war revues, Thousands Cheer at least has a somewhat more interesting plot than many similar efforts. Gene Kelly is back in For Me and My Gal territory, as a performer (aerialist, this time) who is resentful of being forced into war duty, and if MGM had really explored this conflict, Thousands might have been a special film. Unfortunately, they used it merely as a framing device for the big show, and -- worse -- as a way of expounding an overly simplistic "teamwork is everything" moral, undercutting the potential drama. What's left, therefore, is a handful of enjoyable plot numbers and the "big show" that takes up the entire second half of the film. The score is another one of those patchwork jobs, gathered from here, there, and everywhere; for some mysterious reason, the powers-that-be decided to push the initially innocuous but increasingly annoying "I Dug a Ditch," presenting this ditty four times throughout the film (to its best advantage when used merely as underscoring for Kelly's marvelous mop dance). Kelly is in great form throughout; his paramour, Kathryn Grayson, on the other hand is merely adequate when acting, somewhat better when singing. Mickey Rooney is insufferable as the emcee (ditto Ben Blue as a supposedly "comic" private), but there are some marvelous contributions from the likes of Judy Garland, Lena Horne, and Eleanor Powell. Add in the usual expert MGM production, and the result is an empty but entertaining film, the highs of which compensate for the occasional lows.