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In post-WW2 France, U.S. Army hospital private Hogan and Captain Lock try to outwit one another on issues such as wooing pretty nurses, accounting for missing medical supplies, organizing unauthorized dances and influencing their C.O.
Jane Osgood runs a lobster business, which supports her two young children. Railroad staff inattention ruins her shipment, so with her lawyer George, Jane sues Harry Foster Malone, director of the line and the "meanest man in the world".
Not quite in the tradition of "Buck Privates", "Caught in the Draft" and "Jumping Jacks"
During the late 1930s into the 1950s, there were a bunch of army comedies, as they made a lot of money and the public loved them. Abbott and Costello were in "Buck Privates", William Tracy made several Sgt. Doubleday comedies, Bob Hope was in "Caught in the Draft" and Martin and Lewis made "At War With the Army" and "Jumping Jacks". So, why not have Mickey Rooney make an army film as well? Well, I can give you quite a few reasons why he shouldn't have made "Sound Off"!
The film begins with Rooney essentially playing himself. His Michael Donnelly is a showman who adores the limelight and his nightclub act is going well. Out of the blue, however, he's drafted. But Donnelly never really fits in with the army and he's often in trouble. Will he, like the other films listed above, end with Donnelly somehow redeeming himself? I say who cares!
The biggest problem with the film is that unlike the stooges in these other films, Mickey Rooney's character is essentially a pushy jerk and not at all likable. He's selfish and seems to think the world revolves around him. So, whether he redeemed himself or not, I am sure many in the audience just didn't care.
There are a few other problems...problems that might not have mattered had Rooney been LESS...less loud, less confident and acting less like he's the greatest showman in the world. First, why would the army draft a man who is barely above 5 feet tall? His character didn't want to be in the army and his tiny frame should have guaranteed this. Yes, Rooney DID serve during WWII but he was a celebrity and WANTED to be in the war...and the War Department wanted him there for publicity reasons but Rooney STILL needed to pull strings to get into the war. Second, and perhaps I'm wrong about this, but a major part of the film is about enlisted man Donnelly chasing after a female officer. Well, I thought that there were non-fraternization rules that prevented this sort of thing. Let me know if I am wrong, but a Private trying to date a Lieutenant would have been in trouble. Third, there is just too much singing. Sure, some of the other army films above DID have singing...but not this much. It really seemed much more like a Rooney film instead of an army picture. Fourth, the film just isn't all that funny...mostly because Rooney's character is a jerk...100% jerk.
Overall, you can't help but do better by watching "Tanks a Million", "Caught in the Draft" or any of these other pictures.
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