Thursday, July 02, 2009


I know my reviews here tend to run on at length sometimes, well, all the time. That's because way back in 2001, this blog began as a place to post my handwritten journal entries with detailed summaries and critiques, intended to help me remember the movies I'd seen so I wouldn't waste time re-watching films I'd forgotten I'd seen. Every so often, I'm tempted to write some very short reviews for this blog, one sentence for a summary and two for opinion. This film would be perfect for such a review, which might go something like this: "An underappreciated bank clerk and husband (Edward G. Robinson) somehow winds up inducted in the Army during WWII and becomes an unlikely hero. A drab, listless, and predictable propaganda war comedy which was made too late in the game to be effective. Skip this one."

But that wouldn't tell you exactly how bored out of my skull I was by this movie. Everyone from the director to Robinson seems just as bored as no one is working with any energy or commitment. Robinson and Ruth Warrick (as his shrewish wife) sleepwalk through their roles, and the supporting cast is made up of unmemorable minor league players with the exception of Robert Armstrong, whose big moment in the sun was as the movie producer in KING KONG. The one actor who gives a solid performance is 11-year-old Ted Donaldson who does a fine job as an orphan kid who is taken under Robinson's wing. This is more a sketch for a movie than a movie; it plays out like an overlong episode of a bad family sitcom. It climaxes with a dreadfully done combat scene in which Robinson heroically runs a bulldozer into a nest of Japanese soldiers (look closely and you'll see that the men getting crushed are dummies with barely human faces painted on them) and Armstrong engages in the most ludicrous scene of hand-to-hand combat in any Hollywood movie ever. The propaganda element must have seemed awfully out of date by the time this was released midway through 1944 (it is set in 1942). I'm very happy that TCM continues to mine the Columbia movie vaults, but this dud should have been left moldering on the shelves. [TCM]

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