7.2/10
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22 user 10 critic

Stars and Stripes Forever (1952)

A film biography of the composer John Philip Sousa, from his early days in the Marine Corps Band through the Spanish-American War in 1898.

Director:

Henry Koster

Writers:

John Philip Sousa (book), Ernest Vajda (story) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Nominated for 3 Golden Globes. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Clifton Webb ... John Philip Sousa
Debra Paget ... Lily Becker
Robert Wagner ... Willie Little
Ruth Hussey ... Jennie Sousa
Finlay Currie ... Col. Randolph
Roy Roberts ... Maj. George Porter Houston
Thomas Browne Henry Thomas Browne Henry ... David Blakely (as Tom Browne Henry)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Frank Ferguson ... Mr. Wells (scenes deleted)
Jack Rice Jack Rice ... Mr. Jones (scenes deleted)
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Storyline

In the 1890s, Sgt. Major John Philip Sousa, leader of the Marine Corps Band, meets Private Willie Little, inventor of an instrument he calls the Sousaphone...and Little's girlfriend, shapely showgirl Lily. To support his growing family, Sousa leaves the Marines and forms his own band; Willie and Lily go along. Though he'd rather write ballads, Sousa's marches bring him increasing fame; from their debut in 1892 the band is a great success. But Sousa's 'no wives' rule threatens the romance of Willie and Lily...as does the Spanish-American War. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Strike up the band! Here comes The Greatest Musical Show on Earth!


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 February 1953 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

John Philip Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Paul Bierley's biography of John Philip Sousa, "John Philip Sousa, American Phenomenon", several musicians who had played under Sousa attended the world premiere of the film but walked out in disgust. See more »

Goofs

In the film the famous Sousaphone was invented by Willy Little. In actuality the first sousaphone was developed by James Welsh Pepper in 1893 at the request of John Philip Sousa. See more »

Quotes

John Philip Sousa: Upon my word, ma'am, I've never danced with so charming and graceful a two-stepper.
Jennie Sousa: And upon mine, sir, I've never danced with so charming and flattering a liar.
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the opening display of 20th Century Fox's logo, Sousa's "Semper Fidelis" was played instead of the usual 20th Century fanfare See more »

Alternate Versions

Some releases include at the end a clip of the real John Philip Sousa leading the band in one of his famous marches. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Worth Winning (1989) See more »

Soundtracks

Caro nome
(uncredited)
From "Rigoletto"
Music by Giuseppe Verdi (1851)
Lyrics by Francesco Maria Piave
Performed by Debra Paget outside of rehearsal
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Memories of the March King
21 October 2007 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

What should be understood is that Stars and Stripes Forever is in no way a full biography of the famous March King which was the nickname given to John Philip Sousa. It is rather a portrait of the era known as the Gay Nineties in America where Sousa first achieved his reputation and prominence. Also included is a romance between fictional characters played by Robert Wagner and Debra Paget.

In that beard with those pince nez glasses, Clifton Webb looks remarkably like John Philip Sousa in that period and by reputation, Sousa was as much a dilettante as Webb normally played on screen which made him perfect casting. After leaving the Marine Corps band, Sousa formed his own orchestra which became world famous and toured the globe well into the Twenties.

But our story concerns Sousa the March King. Though he composed all kinds of music, it is his marches that have come down today and have given him his reputation. The Marine Corps official march, Semper Fidelis, was composed by Sousa and the incident involving President Benjamin Harrison as depicted in Stars and Stripes Forever is somewhat true. The Marine Corps Band was playing at a White House reception and the Harrison who was not the most social of presidents ordered Sousa to speed up the tempo so the receiving line would move at a brisk pace.

Ruth Hussey is cast in the Myrna Loy type role of the perfect understanding mate for her genius husband and she fulfills the role admirably. Even Clifton Webb does make you forget you're watching Clifton Webb and you do think you are seeing the real Sousa.

Stars and Stripes Forever is an admirable film and of course the finale does have several bands and marching armed forces personnel playing and marching to Sousa's most famous composition.


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