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Journalist Marion Hargrove enters the Army intending to supplement his income by writing about his training experiences. He muddles through basic training at Fort Bragg with the self-serving help of a couple of buddies intent on cutting themselves in on that extra income. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
First Sgt. Cramp's stripes are the type worn before 1942. Before 1942 the First Sgt.'s stripes had the three chevrons and two rockers with a diamond, seen in the film. From 1942 forward the First Sgt. had three chevrons and three rockers with a diamond. The latter would have been more correct for this film since it was made in 1944. See more »
This is the third time I have seen Robert Walker snr. playing a corporal in his film roles.In chronological order first was this film (1943), albeit he was only "promoted" for one day; second in "Since You Went Away"(1944) and third in "The Clock"(1945).He stated that his challenge was to play the real life role of Marion Hargrove "appealing without resorting to buffoonery".The Producer had assembled an experienced support cast including Ray Collins, Keenan Wynn, Robert Benchley, Chill Wills and Donna Reed his love interest in the film with "more purity than passion".He admitted to a twinge of guilt (even though he was only acting) when he had to kiss her on screen since he was still married at the time to Jennifer Jones,his beloved "Phyl" (real name Phylis Isley/Walker.) I had never seen this film on mainstream terrestial analogue UK TV networks, neither had I seen it screened on our version of TCM nor other classic TV movie digital channels nor has it been made commercially available to my knowledge either as a DVD or VHS video.This is probably because the owners of the film rights considered it would not have sufficient commercial appeal.Nevertheless I tracked it down to a rare American video dealer on the internet and my son bought it for me as a Christmas present, since he knows how I love classic 1940s films.The reason I am interested in Robert Walker snr. is that he was married for five years to Jennifer Jones (whom I have been a fan of for years having collected all her films on video/DVD).I then spread my interest to other actors associated with her.I still think however that "Strangers on a Train" (1950) is Robert Walker's best film.
"See Here Private Hargrove" is an autobiographical innocuous comedy by Marion Hargrove (who wrote the best selling book) and who is played by Robert Walker.He starts the comedy as an ineffective newspaper reporter who has talent for writing but just cannot follow through effectively.He is then willingly packed off by his editor when he (Hargrove) is called up to join "Uncle Sam" at a North Carolina army training camp during WWII.He is assigned to training on artillery but spends most of his time there cleaning dustbins (due to a great inability to keep to the disciplined army rules).As a punishment he suffers what Americans call "KP".Does this mean "kitchen punishment"?For one glorious day he is promoted to corporal for an exercise where the blue team have to out-manoeuvre the red team but despite showing individual initiative he only succeeds in leading his company into the wrong team's HQ, because he still cannot follow through effectively.
His best friend at the camp (played by real life friend Keenan Wynn whom he met earlier in New York during his first professional radio days), tries to cheat him at every opportunity taking advantage of his talent for writing and gets him to sign a fraudulent assignation of all his present and future royalties in the hope that some day he will be a famous best selling author.Due to Marion's talent for writing, they "wangle" a soft option in the camp's public relations department but after a while they yearn to be back again with their buddies in the artillery.They only just manage to do this before the brigade is moved out to go on active duty.The plot is very gentle, has simple humour, is patriotic and uncontroversial and presumably was seen by the "brass" in 1943 as approved relaxing viewing for soldiers.To young 21st century eyes the plot seems naive but it was Robert Walker's first leading role at a time when it was important to keep up the public's morale in the middle of the war.His then wife, Jennifer Jones was filming her first leading role at 20th Century Fox playing Bernadette Soubirous in "Song of Bernadette"(1943) for which of course she won the "Oscar" for best actress at the 1944 awards ceremony.
I understand there is a sequel to this film "What Next Private Hargrove" (1945) again starring Robert Walker in the title role with his friend Keenan Wynn.It would be interesting to see the user comments for the latter film on IMDb.com and how the plot was subsequently developed.
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