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After his girlfriend Jo refuses to make a commitment to their relationship, Al Woods decides to enlist and finds himself in the US Coast Guard. He makes it through basic training but a run-in with one of his instructor's lands him as a junior cook on a ship based in Boston. At a bar, he meets the pretty Stella Papparonis and while they see each other regularly, she refuses to stay with him when he rents a hotel room for the night. On board ship, he finds that his direct superior, 'Red' Wildoe, isn't very helpful as far as the galley goes but Al proves to be quite adept at cooking. Al learns a lot about doing the right thing, especially when Stella, now married to Red, starts throwing herself at every man in sight. When the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, life becomes far more serious as well.Written by
The two U.S. Coast Guard ships used in this film are the USCGC Yamacraw (WARC-333) and the USCGC Heather (WAGL-331). See more »
At the end of the movie Woods leaves the bar and walks down the street without his cover (what a hat is called in the military) Even though he is happily distracted by his fiance', anyone who has been in the service more than a week would never go out of doors without his cover. It's second nature. See more »
Apparently a lot of people who are used to Andy Griffith from No Time For Sergeants or from the Andy Griffith Show were expecting something quite different from Onionhead. This is an armed service film set in the Coast Guard during World War II. It's got it's funny moments, but if you're expecting No Time For Sergeants at sea you won't get it. At least Griffith isn't redoing Lonesome Rhodes here.
Andy leaves the plains of Oklahoma behind and becomes a cook after a fashion on a Coast Guard vessel, earning the enmity which gradually warms to respect from chief cook Walter Matthau. He's got less success with Ray Danton the Executive Officer on his ship who is an American version of Captain Bligh in more ways than one. Fans of Mutiny On The Bounty will remember Clark Gable's lecture to Charles Laughton on all the ways that captains make extra money before and during their voyages. Danton has something of that racket going here.
But being headstrong and obstreperous Griffith does not observe the chain of command and causes more problems than what he's trying to solve. He's also got some romantic issues as well with girl he left behind Erin O'Brien-Moore and Felicia Farr the nymphomaniac wife of Walter Matthau.
Best scenes are in the galley with Matthau, Griffith separately and apart. Now their bits are standard for every Hollywood service comedy.
Such colorful cast members as James Gregory, Joey Bishop, Joe Mantell, Tige Andrews, and Claude Akins round out the cast. Many of them clean some Navy clocks when at a bar they're referred to as shallow water sailors. Onionhead is definitely a classic films though it's not quite a comedy.
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