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Jimmy Tracey (Wallace Ford) is a small-time gangster from New York who finds himself mixed up in a murder, becomes a suspect, and goes on the run with the victim's wallet which contains his passport and a ticket for a trip to England by ship. Assuming the identity of the deceased, Jimmy Dean from Winnipeg, Tracey ships to England where he's met at customs by Dean's long lost childhood buddies, Corporal Dawson (John Mills) and his sweetheart Miss Briggs (Anna Lee), daughter of a Sergeant who was close to Dean's father. They all take Tracey to be Dean and he's pushed into enlisting in the army. A rivalry for the girl soon develops between the two fellows, tempered by a growing sense of comradeship; and a variety of diversions arise, including a boxing match and the re-appearance of Tracey's nightclub singer girlfriend from New York (Grace Bradley). Then the boys ship out to China, along with Miss Briggs and her Sergeant daddy, and face rampaging 'bandits' in some substantial battle scenes.
British production company Gaumont Pictures hired Raoul Walsh to direct O.H.M.S ('On Her Majesty's Service', renamed You're in the Army for the US) and together they cooked up a workman-like picture which, though not a bad film, offers little sense of character development or real dramatic progression, but rather comes across as a sequence of slightly disjointed episodes, some of which are entertaining, and others a bit dull. The film begins and ends well, and has a lot going for it, but it loses its way in the middle, veering all over the place, and at only 87 minutes it feels too long. Among the excess matter is a series of drawn out military pageantry and training scenes which feel awkward, especially removed from the context of the film's pre-WWII release date (the film was cut to 71 minutes for US release and I'm guessing much of this material was trimmed then). Ford does OK as a sort of poor man's Cagney - tough, confident, ambitious, lusty, coarse, but a regular guy despite his failings, even getting in a little song and dance routine - but he's nowhere near Cagney for charm, and looks strangely tired and unhappy for much of the film. Mills wears a keen, boyish spirit; Lee plays it independent but a bit naive; Bradley is sassy, streetwise and fun (the more interesting of the two girls but sadly her part is small). But, like I say, all in all it's not really a bad film. I've been harder on it than I could have been in an attempt at objectivity. It'd make a good first half of a double bill with The Fighting 69th released a few years later and starring Cagney and Pat O'Brian, with Cagney playing a more charismatic, but similarly reluctant and undisciplined newly recruited soldier.
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