Friday, February 21, 2014


Mr. Yates is a respected teacher at a military academy who, feeling pressure to be overseas with the troops and wanting to impress his students, decides to waive his educational deferment to enter the military. The boys, led by Yates' favorite student Jimmy, throw him a big sendoff, but when he goes to sign up, he is declared 4-F on account of a perforated ear drum. His doctor, a German refugee, tells him that they might be able to fix him up enough to pass muster, and, so he doesn't have to go back to school and lose face, his buddy Joe puts him up at a boarding house. Yates gets a job at a defense plant where most of the other boarders work, but writes to his students as though he's at the local boot camp. Complications begin when Ruth, another boarder, gets sweet on Yates, causing tough guy Charlie to get jealous. Then the boys make an unauthorized trip to the boot camp to see Yates, discover he's not there, and get the Bureau of Missing Persons involved. Throw in the boarders' growing suspicion that the doctor is a Nazi and that Yates is a spy, and you have quite a mess to untangle by the fadeout. Predictable but watchable wartime propaganda B-movie. The message here seems to be, even if you can't fight, you can still do important work for your country, though working as a shipyard welder may not feel as important as being a soldier. Jess Barker is OK as Yates but never feels like a consistent character, as though he's just stumbling through his own life with little forethought; Claire Trevor is OK as Ruth and Scotty Beckett does a fine job as Jimmy, but the acting honors belong to pugnacious Tom Neal as Charlie—at times, I was wishing that the movie was about him. (Pictured at left are Barker and Neal.) [TCM]

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