Adventures of a Rookie The (1943)
When the highlight of any movie especially a comedy comes within the first 20 minutes and consists of two “fair to midlin’” impressions by one actor of another (Edward G. Robinson & Charles Laughton in this case) you probably ought to skip it. That’s how I felt after watching this humorless Wally Brown-Alan Carney film that was directed by Leslie Goodwins. The story and adaptation were co-written by someone who went on to receive two Academy Award nominations for Writing William Bowers though they were for dramas not comedies. It’s about three persons from different walks of life who are brought together when they were drafted by the Army during World War II. Two of the boot camp rookies played by Brown & Carney (who does the impressions) are goof balls to one straight played by Richard Martin and their Sergeant (Erford Gage who will remind you of Mark Metcalf’s Doug Niedermeyer in Animal House (1978)). Though I don’t really care for the “Three Stooges” humor I much prefer it to this poor attempt at imitating it.
Jerry Miles (Brown) is in show business when he gets his draft notice; Mike Strager (Carney) is a truck driver in a loading line when he gets his; and Bob Prescott (Martin) is playing the piano. There are the usual comic mishaps one has seen done better in films like Buck Privates (1941) and then we learn that Prescott’s uncle is a colonel (James Hamilton uncredited notable character actor also known as Perry White on TV’s Superman) on the base. Since Prescott had the highest score on the entry aptitude tests he’s applied for officer’s training but his association with Miles & Strager continually jeopardizes his future. Soon the three find themselves on leave being picked up by the lovely Peggy Linden (Rita Corday) for a dinner party at her home. Miles meets Patsy (Patti Brill) Prescott gets to know Peggy while the chubby Strager is left to holding an egg through a door and its jam (don’t ask). When a doctor (Henry Roquemore uncredited) arrives to check on the cook and mis-diagnoses her condition as “Scarlet Fever” Mr. Linden (Byron Foulger uncredited) returns to find that his home has been quarantined. Of course Sergeant Burke doesn’t believe his men when they call him so he comes to the house and is told he can’t leave it for two weeks either. Pat O’Malley appears uncredited as a policeman. Fortunately (?) the doctor corrects his error so that “we” can witness some more adventures.
Next the “boys” find themselves A.W.O.L. (Absent WithOut Leave) in San Francisco some 60 miles from where their training maneuvers are taking place. After some misadventures on the docks (in which you will see William Haade & Tom Kennedy uncredited) and then in an Army hospital they make their way back to Sergeant Burke & company. There isn’t much more except for the film’s horrific ending in which these three “soldiers” are actually shown to be part of group of men being sent to fight the enemy … now that’s really NOT funny! Thankfully the film runs little more than an hour. Unfortunately it’s followed by a sequel Rookies in Burma (1943).