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A Universal Army enlistment promotion, produced as a musical showcase for Harry James, the Andrews Sisters, Joe E. Lewis, and Donald O'Connor & Peggy Ryan. The film's thin plot has James drafted, and joining him is the band's lead vocalist Lon Prentice (Dick Foran), who doesn't believe that Army training and regulations are necessary for anyone of his skill and fame. Shemp Howard steals the film whenever James and the Andrews aren't performing. As Sgt. Snavely, he's effectively teamed with Mary Wickes as his shrewish fiancée, trying desperately to keep her away from the attentions of nightclub comic and USO performer Lancelot Pringle McBiff (Joe E. Lewis). Shemp also has the opportunity to clown onstage with the Andrews Sisters during a musical finale, as they perform Don't Sit Under the Appletree. Arguably, Shemp's best solo feature film credit. Written by
Private Buckaroo is one of those wartime musicals set in the army where the plot is barely noticeable among the musical numbers. In fact I'm not sure of what the plot was. In fact this one was another of those films to incorporate a top big band into the Hollywood studio system. In this it was Harry James and his Orchestra.
Harry's gets one of those letters from FDR that a lot of men between 18 and 45 were getting back in 1942. But his orchestra apparently thinking they'd have to go out hustle other jobs decides the one that Harry's getting is good enough for them so the whole band enlists. Including Helen Forrest and Dick Foran who are his vocalists.
Unlike the patriotic Foran who was a CPO in In The Navy, this Foran has an attitude similar to that of Lee Bowman in Buck Privates. Of course when you're drill sergeant is Shemp Howard it's kind of hard to take the army seriously. Foran's also pursuing Jennifer Holt who is Tim's sister.
Also in the film are the Andrews Sisters and Donald O'Connor and Peggy Ryan and that about covers the musical portion of the film. For a 69 minute film they had at least a dozen numbers so you can see the plot barely got in the way. Not to mention there was a triangle involving Shemp with Mary Wickes and Joe E. Lewis.
The film that Frank Sinatra made about Joe E. Lewis, The Joker Is Wild is infinitely better than Private Buckaroo. But this certainly is an opportunity to see the real Lewis perform.
So if you're a fan of any or all of these folks you might spend some time watching Private Buckaroo. All this Universal classic needed was Abbott&Costello.
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