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Military schools are not exactly known for madcap antics. Here there's a great deal of fun and delight in breaking the many rules in whirlwind fashion. I suspect those shenanigans came across much funnier in 1938 than they do now. The comedy antics revolve around Wayne Morris's cadet Randolph. The trouble is that Morris and/or director Keighley seem to think that there's something automatically funny about being loud and obnoxious, such that one particularly lengthy scene is almost exhausting in pretended hilarity. William Tracy's sadsack new cadet is funnier, but then Tracy is a comedian by nature.
Unfortunately, this is not a movie that takes advantage of Ronald Reagan's natural charm and easy smile. His cadet Crawford is something of a sober-sides and is clearly a secondary role to Morris. Actually, it's Jane Wyman who I think comes across best. Her Claire Adams may be a plain-jane bookworm, but when she takes off her glasses the screen really does light up no wonder Reagan married her. On the other hand, Eddie Albert is really good at looking confused or perplexed. The trouble is that his dour cadet appears to be in a more serious movie than the one here. I expect one reason the film has lost impact is a shift in public mores over a 70-year period. I doubt that audiences find the various boy-girl situations as scandalously funny now as they did then. Anyway, regardless of comedic skills, the real-life Wayne Morris was a distinguished military man and authentic war hero, making his role here rather ironical. Too bad that today he's almost totally forgotten.
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