See Here Private Hargrove (1944)

See Here Private Hargrove (1944)

Based on a book by Marion Hargrove of his exploits at Fort Bragg during boot camp the film features Robert Walker in the title role. Keenan Wynn and William “Bill” Phillips (among others) play fellow soldiers in his unit. Chill Wills is their Sergeant Cramp.

At the beginning of the film Hargrove is a newspaper writer who is constantly getting in trouble with his editor boss played by Ray Collins. Once he’s drafted he meets Wynn et al on the bus to boot camp. Wynn plays Mulvehill an entrepreneurial type who has figured out what everyone will need and charges them through the nose for it. Hargrove is continuously doing things wrong in the Army as well and becomes a regular on KP duty at the camp assigned to scrub & clean the garbage cans until he can see his reflection in it.

Hargrove has brought his typewriter with him to chronicle his experience and receives regular “sympathy” checks from his former editor. Mulvehill notices that Hargrove is the one who can afford his services and he scams him into believing that he runs a dating service which will allow him to date Carol (Donna Reed) for $5. In an amusing scene Carol’s uncle (the recognizable Grant Mitchell) smooths over the situation between the innocent Hargrove and upset Carol such that they begin dating. However Carol is only at Fort Bragg for a short time on her way back to her home in New York. And due to an incident during inspection Hargrove is unable to make his last date with her before she leaves.

Hargrove then becomes a model soldier and starts saving all his money for a furlough so that he can visit Carol. He is even promoted to Corporal when his gun battery wins firing practice. Unfortunately his success is short-lived such that he is busted back down to private and KP duty. At Mulvehill’s suggestion and giving up hope on ever being to visit Carol he spends his furlough money by treating his fellow solidiers to a steak dinner night out. However the next day his furlough comes through and Hargrove must make a deal with Mulvehill and the guys to get enough money to make the trip.

Carol’s father is amusingly played by familiar character actor Robert Benchley who feigns interest in Hargrove’s exploits only to regale him with his own military experience. The most improbable scene in the movie is the last night of Hargrove’s furlough when Carol’s parents make themselves scarce and the first thing Hargrove wants to do is fill his new pipe with tobacco and smoke it. Hello? You’re alone with Donna Reed!!!

*** SPOILERS ***

When Hargrove returns to Fort Bragg Mulvehill has figured out a way to exploit him such that neither of them will have to see any combat action. But when the troop ships out both have second thoughts. The ending is naturally upbeat.

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