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Thousands Cheer

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Thousands Cheer (1943) starring Gene Kelly, Kathryn Grayson
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Thousands Cheer (1943) starring Gene Kelly, Kathryn Grayson

Thousands Cheer (1943) starring Gene Kelly, Kathryn Grayson

Thousands Cheer is a  musical romance, set in the U.S.A. during World War II.   The first half of the movie deals with Kathryn Roberts (played by Kathryn Grayson). She’s a  concert singer who is retiring from the stage to work on putting on shows for the Army, to help morale.   This is also designed to let her bond with  her father, an Army colonel. Whom she hasn’t seen since she was a baby, after her parents’ divorce.  

A sub-plot running through the film is her desire/attempts to reconcile her parents.   Her first attempt at this leads to her mother seeing them off as they embark on a troop train. Where  she meets Army Private Eddie March (played by Gene Kelly). As they both watch all of the other G.I.’s kissing their wives and sweethearts goodbye, kiss each other. Initially, this is meant as a joke.   To Gene Kelly’s surprise, however, the girl has “followed” him on the troop train. So he  follows her into her compartment to tell her that the kiss meant nothing .  Only to realize that her father, his colonel, is there.

The  romantic musical is on from that point. Gene Kelly is a star of the circus — an aerialist. He’s having trouble adjusting to being just a private in the army. He gives a very good performance, with an  excellent dance number with a mop. The movie also gives Kathryn Grayson opportunity to sing — and she had a beautiful voice.   The movie is a conglomeration of :

  • Boosting morale during World War II
  • Tthe romance between Gene Kelly and Kathryn Grayson
  • The need for teamwork — that Gene Kelly’s aerialist family needs to reinforce to him
  • And, of course, the “big show” that Kathryn is part of — which is the second part of the movie.

Let’s put on a show

Red Skelton doing his soda jerk routine (with Donna Reed) in Thousands Cheer
Red Skelton doing his soda jerk
routine (with Donna Reed) in
Thousands Cheer

Oddly enough, the second part of the movie, which is an excuse for various stars to perform in short skits, was less entertaining for me than the romantic musical.   Although there are some very entertaining skits, such as Lena Horne’s beautiful singing, a  funny skit with  Red Skelton  as a soda fountain jerk  (no, that’s not an insult, honest!), a cute routine with Frank Morgan (best remembered as the Wizard in  The Wizard of Oz) with a cameo by  Lucille Ball, etc.

Back to the main story

After the show, the main story resumes, with Gene Kelly (and Kathryn’s father) going out to war, with a tearful farewell — and a goodbye kiss, with Gene Kelly promising to come back for the girl who has his engagement ring.   It’s a sweet movie — I originally watched it as part of reviewing  Red Skelton  movies, and he has only a very small part — but I’m glad I watched it, and I think that you’ll enjoy it too.

Cast of characters

In the Show


  • Daybreak
    • Music by Ferde Grofé Sr.
    • Lyrics by Harold Adamson
    • Conducted by José Iturbi
    • Sung by Kathryn Grayson
  • I Dug A Ditch
    • Lyrics by Lew Brown and Ralph Freed
    • Music by Burton Lane
    • Sung by Ben Lessy (uncredited)
    • Sung by Kathryn Grayson (uncredited) and male chorus, including Ben Blue (uncredited), Frank Jenks (uncredited) and Frank Sully (uncredited)
    • Performed by the Kay Kyser Band (uncredited)
    • Sung by Georgia Carroll (uncredited), Harry Babbitt (uncredited), Sully Mason (uncredited), M.A. Bogue (uncredited)
  • Three Letters In The Mail Box
    • Music by Walter Jurmann
    • Lyrics by Paul Francis Webster
    • Conducted by Frank Jenks (uncredited)
    • Performed by Kathryn Grayson (uncredited)
  • Let There Be Music
    • Music by Earl K. Brent (as Earl Brent)
    • Lyrics E.Y. Harburg
    • Sung by Kathryn Grayson
  • United Nations
    • Music by Dmitri Shostakovich (as Dmitri Shostakovitch)
    • Lyrics by Harold Rome & E.Y. Harburg
    • Conducted by José Iturbi (uncredited)
    • Sung by Kathryn Grayson (uncredited)
  • Anchors Aweigh
    • Music by Charles A. Zimmerman
    • Lyrics by Alfred Hart Miles and R. Lovell
  • The Marine’s Hymn
    • Music based on a melody by Jacques Offenbach from his opera “Geneviève de Brabant”
    • Lyrics by unknown marine (ca 1874) and probably Henry C. Davis
  • The Army Air Corps Song (‘Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder’)
    • Written by Robert Crawford
  • Sempre libera
    • from the “La traviata”
    • Music by Giuseppe Verdi
    • Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave
    • Conducted by José Iturbi
    • Sung by Kathryn Grayson
  • Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree
    • Music by Sam H. Stept
  • The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze
    • Music by Gaston Lyle
    • Lyrics by George Leybourne
  • You’re in the Army Now
    • Music by Isham Jones
    • Lyrics by Tell Taylor and Ole Olsen
  • (I Wish I Was in) Dixie’s Land
    • Written by Daniel Decatur Emmett
  • Let Me Call You Sweetheart
    • Music by Leo Friedman
    • Lyrics by Beth Slater Whitson
  • Yankee Doodle
    • Traditional music of English origin
  • Boogie Woogie
    • Music by Clarence ‘Pine Top’ Smith
  • In a Little Spanish Town
    • Music by Mabel Wayne
    • Lyrics by Sam Lewis and Joe Young
    • Played by Bob Crosby Orchestra
    • Sung Gloria DeHaven, June Allyson and Virginia O’Brien
  • Rock-a-Bye Baby
    • Written by Effie I. Canning
    • Sung by Virginia O’Brien
  • The Oceana Roll
    • Music by Lucien Denni
    • Lyrics by Roger Lewis
  • (I’ve Grown So Lonely) Thinking of You
    • Music by Walter Donaldson
    • Lyrics by Paul Ash
  • Should I
    • Music by Nacio Herb Brown
    • Lyrics by Arthur Freed
    • Performed by the Kay Kyser Band with Georgia Carroll
  • Tico Tico
    • Music by Zequinha de Abreu
    • English lyrics by Ervin Drake
  • Honeysuckle Rose
    • Music by Fats Waller
    • Lyrics by Andy Razaf
    • Played by Benny Carter and His Band
    • Sung by Lena Horne
  • The Joint Is Really Jumpin’ in Carnegie Hall
    • Written by Roger Edens, Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin
    • Piano by José Iturbi
    • Sung by Judy Garland

Funny Movie quotes from Thousands Cheer

Private Eddie Marsh (Gene Kelly): From now on I only kiss women I know.

Hyllary Jones (Mary Astor): Trapeze? Are Eddie’s parents acrobats?
Kathryn Jones (Kathryn Grayson: Aerialists! And I love him!

Frank Morgan: Just checking your pulse. Hmmm… very irregular. Rapid, too!
Lucille Ball: You have your fingers on my wristwatch.

Private Eddie Marsh (Gene Kelly): There’s so much to say.
Kathryn Jones (Kathryn Grayson: Don’t say anything. Just come back.

Private Eddie Marsh (Gene Kelly): They call me “The King of the High Trapeze”

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