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On a layover in Hawaii two conniving Navy seamen borrow money to lay down bets that their ship will win the upcoming gunnery practice trophy, having found out that the current gunnery champ has just transferred aboard their ship. What they haven't learned, however, is that the marksman's enlistment is up before the contest is supposed to take place. Written by
Doug Sederberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
... and a reminder how everything can change in an instant. This movie is about two American sailors (Jack Oakie and Jack Haley) on shore leave in Honolulu who find out that another ship's master gunner is actually transferring to THEIR ship before the gunnery competition begins between the two ships, and nobody knows but the two goofball sailors and the sailor who is transferring. They are always on the losing end of any bets, so here they finally have a no lose situation. They borrow 200 dollars from one of their more financially savvy shipmates - and believe me the way these two goofballs throw around money that could be just about anybody - and place bets on their ship winning at 15:1 odds. They figure they will clean up so they pawn off the ship's trophies to get even more betting money, figuring everyone is on shore leave and nobody will notice or mind. After they win they will buy the trophies back before anyone knows they are missing. They can't lose - right? WRONG. The Midwestern corn-fed dead-eye shot (Herbert Anderson) is due to have his enlistment run out 12 days before the competition, and he really is homesick for his farm, so the rest of the movie has to do with Oakie and Haley getting him to change his mind and reenlist.
At 108 minutes long, this movie is just TOO long. At a time when films often ran 80 minutes, that would have been a more appropriate running time. There are too many lame jokes, that are lame precisely because situations run on too long, and the subplots would have been funnier if they had been more to the point.
What's good about this movie? I really loved the big band big musical numbers with Ann Sheridan singing. The title song is particularly catchy. You also get a glimpse of Jackie Gleason when he is starting out, Jack Carson just as he arrives at Warner Brothers where he really perfects his somewhat unlikeable "gray guy" persona, and Martha Raye is used to good effect as the ex-wife of one of the goofball sailors who demands she gets her alimony.
As for me mentioning this film is a moment captured in time - consider this. The film was made three months before the attack on Pearl Harbor. As the sailors keep mentioning, they joined the navy "to see the world", which is what you did in peacetime which was about to end. Honolulu was the playground of that peacetime navy, just as depicted in the film (actually filmed in San Diego). Thus something I just couldn't get out of my mind as I watched this somewhat silly yet utterly enjoyable 1941 film about the Navy in Hawaii was that it gives no hint of the horror to come - how could it?, and probably thus had a very narrow window in time in which it was the least bit relevant before it would have to be put in mothballs for probably at least ten years or else it would appear almost flippant to those going through WWII and then afterwards, to those who had been through it and survived.
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