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U.S. Marine Sergeant O'Hara has his hands full training raw recruits, one of whom, 'Skeets' Burns, is a particular thorn in his side. If Burns's lackadaisical approach to the military were not bad enough, he also makes advances on nurse Nora Dale, whom Sergeant O'Hara secretly loves. Nora is oblivious to O'Hara's feelings and is attracted to the handsome 'Skeet.' But an indiscretion turns her against him, and it takes an expedition to China and a battle with a warlord's bandit brigade to sort things out among the nurse and her two Marines. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In the only film that Lon Chaney ever made without makeup of any sort, he and William Haines laid the ground work for many a service comedy in the sound era. Had this been done at Warner Brothers a few years later, the parts that Chaney and Haines have would have been played by Pat O'Brien and James Cagney.
Tell It To The Marines finds William Haines as a fresh young recruit enlisting in the Marines on almost a whim in San Diego. Once they've got his signature on the dotted line, Haines comes under the tender charge of sergeant Lon Chaney. The two go through training, sea duty, and rescuing some missionaries while posted in Shanghai.
They've also interest in the same girl, Navy nurse Eleanor Boardman and if you've seen any of the Cagney-O'Brien films you know who she's going to wind up with. Haines also dallies a bit with South Sea native girl Carmel Myers and his attentions start a small war on that said island.
A few years away from being cast as Chinese detective Charlie Chan, Warner Oland plays a lean and mean Chinese bandit chief, threatening the lives of all and virtue of the females at a Chinese mission. Americans were very sensitive on that subject, giving money at collection time at church services for Chinese missions. Back then it seemed like every church in America was sponsoring a missionary in China.
Though it's not a genre that the silent screen was especially known for, Tell It To The Marines is a rollicking good service comedy and a nice change of pace for the Man of a Thousand Faces to be seen as his own true self.
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