Elmer, rich society loafer, falls for Mary, but she'll have nothing to do with him until (mistakenly thinking that he's hiring a new chauffeur) he accidentally volunteers for the army. ... See full summary »
Elmer, rich society loafer, falls for Mary, but she'll have nothing to do with him until (mistakenly thinking that he's hiring a new chauffeur) he accidentally volunteers for the army. Luckily, Mary's signed up to entertain the troops. Unluckily, Elmer's sergeant likes Mary, too. And worst of all, they're all about to ship out for France. Written by
This is a horrible mess of a movie. I think I have a right to say that because I am a huge fan of silent comedy and have loved the films of Keaton--I've seen enough to know this movie is not in the least representative of what Keaton was capable of doing. To put it very bluntly, the film offers no laughs--NONE! Unlike Keaton, who basically showed he would make ANY movie for a buck, Chaplin wisely made far fewer and much higher quality films during the sound era, as was the case with Harold Lloyd (whose sound films are pretty good). It was as if once sound and greater control was exerted over his films by MGM, Keaton didn't fight back for artistic control but just did whatever he was told. The results were completely boring and stylistically had almost nothing in common with his silent masterpieces.
Another problem with this and several subsequent films was pairing Keaton with singers or sound-oriented comedians. In this case he was paired with the annoying Cliff Edwards--later the voice of Jimminy Cricket--who spent most of the film running around with a ukulele--even when being drilled by their sergeant! In the next few films, Keaton would be paired with perhaps the loudest and most "in your face" comedian in history, Jimmy Durante--the complete opposite of the sweet and quiet style of Keaton.
In addition to Edwards, Eddie Brophy is on hand as the drill sergeant. He isn't totally awful, but the chemistry between him and Keaton is almost non-existent.
If you are looking for a better war comedy from this era, try Laurel and Hardy's PACK UP YOUR TROUBLES or their even better BLOCKHEADS. Or, CAUGHT IN THE DRAFT (with Bob Hope) or the mostly mediocre BUCK PRIVATES (with Abbott and Costello). In fact, try almost any was comedy--it is almost certainly better.
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