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Glamorous Lorry Jones, the toast of a Missouri military canteen, has become "engaged" to almost every serviceman she's signed her pin-up photo for. Now she's leaving home to go into government service (not, as she fantasizes, to join the USO). On a side trip to New York, her vivid imagination leads her to True Love with naval hero Tommy Dooley; but increasingly involved Musical Comedy Complications follow. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Two wide mouths, a bullfrog and a WACky blond bombshell
Joe E Brown and Martha Raye were 2 veteran vaudeville performers, as well as film personalities, both known, among other things, for their unusually wide mouths. Both were primarily comedians, but neither is allowed to be funny in this '44 Fox Technicolor. Martha was also a singer and does get to do a couple of solos. She and Betty were last seen together in a film when they were both contracted with Paramount, playing sisters in the '38 B&W "Give Me a Sailor", costarring Bob Hope. In that delightful little domestic comedy, Martha was the star and Betty the supporting actress. Here, the tables are turned, with Betty the star performer and providing most of the comedy, along with occasional inputs from rotund Eugene 'bullfrog' Palette, who plays her office boss.
Unusual for a Grable film, she lacks one of her usual leading or supporting men. Instead, her romantic interest is a rather faceless serviceman in the form of John Harvey. Actually, this was a rather common ploy in musical comedies during the later part of WWII. Other notable Fox examples include "Something For the Boys" and "The Gang's All Here". Perhaps the most extreme example is Warner's "Hollywood Canteen". The idea was to present a 'nobody' serviceman that servicemen could better identify with, as the leading lady's romantic interest.
It sometimes happened in '40s musicals that specialty acts provided the most interesting musical, comedy or gymnastic act, and this is perhaps one of those films.The gaudy roller skating dance act by 'The Skating Vanities', accompanied by Martha's "Red Robins, Bobwhites, and Bluebirds" is certainly the eye candy highlight of this film, and a part of its flag waving aspect. The Condo Brothers also did a couple of nice tap dance numbers, and Betty's dance with Hermes Pan to "Once Too Often" is OK. Later, there is a Viennese waltz scene, with dancers in very fancy classical European dress, preceding and following Betty's rendition of a more contemporary "The Story of the Very Merry Widow".Betty also gets to do a couple other musical numbers, mostly two renditions of "Don't Carry Tales Out of School".
Perhaps the most unexpected aspect of this film is the finale overly long marching drill exercise, with rifles, executed by a sizable unit of WACs, with Betty as their competent drill sergeant. Would have been nice to have had some musical accompaniment, as in Warner's "This is the Army". I guess the message was: If we run short of fighting men to help win this war, we have plenty of fighting women to back them up!
If you want to see the best Grable/Raye musical comedy, I recommend "Give Me a Sailor", as previously detailed. Betty looks even more beautiful at age 21 in that one. The emphasis is much more on comedy than music, with Bob Hope complementing Martha's comedy.
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