It was a long time after I'd watched Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in
individual vehicles that I learned about their early career team up.
Both are so widely disparate in temperament and personality that the
combination seems implausible. Even here, their brand of humor doesn't
suggest camaraderie, as Sgt. Puccinelli (Martin) takes special delight
in lording over the hapless Private Korwin (Lewis).
I was surprised to see in the early credits that the film introduces Polly Bergen. She shares about equal screen time with the picture's other female complements, Jean Ruth and Angela Greene. The impression that stands out of course is that long close up during a duet between Bergen and Martin that endorses her future celebrity. It had the aura of a shampoo and toothpaste commercial rolled into one; you almost expect one of those magical twinkles to flash in her eyes.
I guess you WOULD have to go back to 1950 to enjoy a five cent soda from a vending machine; I'm always happy to see those reminders of a simpler time.
Say, just how drunk would you have to be to come on to a guy in drag with a hairy chest wearing a dress? Mike Kellin portrays the inebriated Sgt. McVey and in his way looks like another version of the rubber faced Lewis. Makes you kind of wonder how one guy becomes a super star and another gets by as a character actor.
There's a surprise bit in the film when Lewis and Martin mimic Barry Fitzgerald and Bing Crosby in a scene from "Going My Way", both are dead on in one of the highlights of the movie.
"At War With The Army" can easily be found individually or in compilation with a host of public domain films of the era. It's worth a viewing for an early look at future celebrity legends whose careers eventually took separate paths.
Alvin Corwin is low man on the totem pole, and goes from one mishap to another at an army training camp in World War II.
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