The West Point Story (1950) DVDRip (SiRiUs sHaRe).avi
The West Point Story (1950).rtf
The West Point Story (1950)
Broadway director Bix Bixby, down on his luck (thanks to gambling), is reluctantly persuaded to go to West Point military academy (with Eve, his gorgeous assistant and on-and-off love) to help the students put on a show. Ulterior motive: to recruit student star Tom Fletcher for Harry Eberhart's new production (Eberhart just happens to be Tom's uncle). Then, Bixby finds that he himself must live as a cadet. Of course, sundered hearts come into the story also...
James Cagney ... Elwin 'Bix' Bixby
Virginia Mayo ... Eve Dillon
Doris Day ... Jan Wilson
Gordon MacRae ... Tom Fletcher
Gene Nelson ... Hal Courtland
Alan Hale Jr. ... Bull Gilbert
Roland Winters ... Harry Eberhart
Raymond Roe ... Bixby's 'wife'
Wilton Graff ... Lieutenant Colonel Martin
Jerome Cowan ... Mr. Jocelyn
James Cagney wrote in his autobiography that the only films he watched in his retirement years continually were the musical ones. He regretted he didn't do more of them. So do I, so should we all.
While The West Point Story isn't the greatest film Cagney ever did at Warner Brothers, it's far from the worst and I find it charming and entertaining.
This was his second film with Virginia Mayo and quite a contrast it was after White Heat. The lovely Ms. Mayo also got to show what a good dancer she was both with Cagney and Gene Nelson.
The singing is carried in this film by Doris Day and Gordon MacRae. Usually folks don't think of Gordon MacRae as Doris's most frequent leading man, but in fact he did four films with her. He had a wonderful baritone voice and he could easily adapt to light musical fare like The West Point Story or do operetta like The Desert Song which he did a few years later. It's too bad for MacRae that he did not come along 20 years earlier and could have done a few of those operettas the way Nelson Eddy did.
Gene Nelson was a fine dancer who when musicals went out of vogue, turned to directing. Another talented performer who came along a little too late. He never got the credit for being the fine dancer he was.
The plot is simple, James Cagney and Virginia Mayo once a good pair of top choreographers are reduced to seedy nightclub work. Cagney gets an opportunity to go to West Point to help put on the annual 100th night show the graduating class does. The catch is he has to try to lure Gordon MacRae to the bright lights of Broadway for his producer uncle Roland Winters. From there the plot evolves.
And it's a nice story with good musical numbers even though Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn got no hits out of the score. Still the songs are well integrated into the plot.
I think people will enjoy watching The West Point Story.
There's a lot of talent here: James Cagney (terrific as usual, singing and dancing, and quite adept at comedy), Doris Day, Gordon MacRae, Virginia Mayo, and a pre-Gilligan's Island Alan Hale Jr. The problem is that the film isn't terribly involving. A lot of comedy could've been mined from the situation with Cagney, a down-on-his-luck Broadway director, having to become a cadet at West Point. Unfortunately, the creators of the film decided to not give this much thought. In fact, there aren't enough laughs in the movie. The songs are, for the most part, unspectacular, except for "The Military Polka". All in all, somewhat disappointing, especially considering the cast.
A silly story, forgettable songs and a poor stage show of cadets on parade. But what fun! The best thing Doris Day did while at Warner Bros. The most alive performance of Virginia Mayo ever. And James Cagney at his best, dancing, fighting, arguing and filling the picture with his legendary personality. It must be seen to be believed. Cagney, the street boy, the gangster, the tough guy, shines and sparkles in musicals. His performance here is as good if not better than the one that earned him an Oscar (Yankee Doodle Dandy). And this, immediately after his brilliant, hideous, terrific work in White Heat. What an actor! What a dancer! What a performer! It is impossible to define the fine qualities of Roy Del Ruth direction: the man who made some of the better (Folies Bergere de Paris, Broadway Melody of 1936, On the Avenue) as well as some of the worse (Du Barry was a Lady, Broadway Rhytm) musicals in Hollywood history, excelled in West Point Story,working with a screenplay that was only bright dialogue with no story to speak of. See it and understand how Hollywood in its golden age, knew how to make gold out of plumb.
* Plot holes: Hal's knee is injured backstage during the last act of revue, forcing Bix to take his place in the big final number. Yet during the finale, Hal has recovered enough to perform the next-to-last reprise number, which is now climaxed by Bix's final number, which was originally to have been performed by Hal. Had Hal not been injured, how could he possibly have performed both numbers in the finale?