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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
ONCE AGAIN, WE have a sure thing subject matter to use as sure fire
fodder in a JOE McDOAKES Comedy short subject. Everyone in his viewing
audience has come in contact with cops in one way or another; traffic
situations, be they either in accidents or as accused violators of
exceeding speed limits, would include even the most law-abiding
citizens among us.
THE USE OF the authority figure in its most basic form, the Cop on the Beat, had long been an oft used comedy gag. One need only look back to the silents; where Mack Sennett took a comedy short titled THE BANGVILLE POLICE and tweaked its basic premise a little, gave it a full scale tune-up and, presto! A major series was created for Sennett's KEYSTONE STUDIO's 'Fun Factory'; that being THE KEYSTONE KOPS!
ONE NEED ONLY to take a quick view of the film comedy to see that it is in fact one long and dignity puncturing fun fest; most of which comes at the expense of our various screen clowns' (both Silent and Talking)managing to wage their war of levity against the minions of the law.
STARTING WITH GUYS with names like Chaplin, Arbuckle,Keaton,Langdon, Lloyd and Laurel & Hardy; the tradition of engaging the local police in the course of tickling our collective funny bone was continued with the likes of W.C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, Clark & McCullough, the Ritz Brothers, the 3 Stooges, Abbott & Costello and others.*
SO IT ALL came down to Director Richatd Bare and Actor George O'Hanlon to cook up their entry into this 'Cops and Custard' fest.
THE RESULTING ENTRY in this McDoakes Series, SO YOU WANT TO BE A POLICEMAN, takes the "road less taken" and puts Joe into the position of an aspiring police trainee; wishing to do well in a sort of on-the-job testing of his ability. The particular area being tested is that of the Motorcle Cop.
FOR THE SURPRISINGLY full 10 minutes of this comedy, Officer McDoakes fumbles, stumbles and attempts to maintain a certain swagger; all the while encountering a number of varying problems from a cross section of the public. His protagonists range from obnoxious businessman, nervous type, a knockout blonde lady and even the Police Commissioner himself! Each encounter essays various influences that can come to bear on a cop including political clout, socio-economic 'superiority' and even, uh, what can only be properly classified as S-E-X!!!
SUPPORT IN THIS particular edition of the JOE McDOAKES Saga is ample and ably supplied from a cast of uncredited players. Most notable in attendance are old Warner Brothers' regulars Ben Welden and James Flavin; with Arthur Q. Bryan (the perennial voice of Elmer Fudd) pinch-hitting as narrator for Art Gilmore (done in rhyme, yet!). Miss Joi Lansing provides the distraction of the blonde lady driver (woo, woo,woo. woo!).
NOTE: * In what may well be our best examples of the Little Guy;s relation with the fundamental authority of the Cop on the Beat, my personal choices are EASY STREET (Mutual, 1917) in which Charlie Chaplin becomes a cop in a poor, crime ridden neighborhood and Buster Keaton's COPS (1922), in which Buster manages to be at odds with an entire big city police force!
So You Want to Be a Policeman (1955)
*** (out of 4)
Fun entry has Joe McDoakes joining the police force and on his first day out the boss puts him on probation so he can't have any mistakes. The first guy he pulls over for driving 100 MPH in a school zone but the tough guy pushes Joe around. He then pulls over a beautiful blonde (Joi Lansing) who uses a smile to get out of her ticket. Poor Joe makes one mistake after another until he's had enough and decides to play rough with the next guy he pulls over. This is certainly one of the fun entries in the series as we get one good joke after another and there's no question that George O'Hanlon is at the top of his game and really delivers another fine performance. McDoakes unlucky nature is simple and sweet and the actor is certainly the only person you could ever see in the role. He manages to make the material funny even if some of it isn't the greatest ever written. One nice sequence has him trying to pull over two people at once, which winds up with Joe in the hospital. Another funny sequence comes towards the end when he tries to push another cop around. You'll notice Elmer Fudd's voice doing the narration and it's Arthur Q. Bryan himself.
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