Sunday, January 24, 2010

1950 - WHEN WILLIE COMES MARCHING HOME, John Ford copies Preston Sturges

Even four time Academy Award winning directors have to eat which can be the only reason that John Ford got involved in this comedy.

A small town man who enlists in the Army at the start of World War II and ends up being stationed in his hometown for the duration of the war much to his embarrassment.  This is a very mild satire on patriotism and was clearly influenced by Preston Sturges much better comedy,  Hail The Conquering Hero.

The movie stars Dan Dailey who was a song and dance man in some Fox musicals, naturally Dailey does a couple of musical numbers which seem completely out of place.  Ford must have gotten along pretty well with Dailey since he appeared in two more of his  films.

Towards the end of the film, Daily accidentally goes on a secret mission to France where he meets a beautiful French resistance fighter and brings back secret information on the Nazi V2 rockets.  This  mostly involves Dailey getting drunk on the secret mission and I guess that's supposed to be funny.  Ford was somewhat of a notorious binge alcoholic when he wasn't filming, he must have been able to relate to these scenes.

The movie ends with Dailey finally being recognized for his heroism, and it shows him flying off to be honored by the President of the United States.

The best thing you can say about this movie is that it's 82 minutes and that Ford keeps the broad comedy situations moving along at a fast pace.
No underrated classic here, just a director putting in a day's work.

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