Tanks a Million (1941)

Tanks a Million (1941)

There have been a lot of bad films that have received Academy Award nominations over the years and this has to be one of the worst. Directed by Fred Guiol and written by Paul Girard Smith Warren Wilson & Edward Seabrook this B movie from producer Hal Roach earned Edward Ward another Oscar nomination when his Score was nominated. It’s a nothing special comedy which features William Tracy in a leading role; his character Dorian ‘Dodo’ Doubleday is an information clerk with an incredible memory a word-for-word recall of anything he reads or hears. Like all Roach comedies this one features several slapstick sequences which some might even find funny. Thankfully the film runs on for only 50 minutes.

When Dodo is drafted into the army (the film was released prior to our involvement in World War II) his memorization of the service’s manual and newfound knowledge of military procedures earns him not only the respect of his superior officers but an instant promotion to First Sergeant. This not only frustrates his fellow recruits and draftees (Noah Beery Jr. and Frank Faylen among others) but also upsets career Sgt. Ames (Joe Sawyer) who’s a real “meathead” himself. When Col. ‘Spitfire’ Barkley (James Gleason) who has a reputation as a no nonsense blowhard is given command of Camp Carver Sergeant Ames convinces Captain Rossmead (Douglas Fowley) to assign the “army manual quoting” Sgt. Doubleday as the Colonel’s orderly in hopes that it will be disastrous for Dodo. But Doubleday inadvertently saves the day for the preposterously microphone nervous Spitfire when the Sergeant’s girlfriend Jeannie (Elyse Knox) mistakes Dodo for a Colonel and he has to make the introduction speech over the radio to the troops. Capt. Rossmead and Sgt. Ames think they’ve gotten (rid of) Doubleday for sure a court martial and/or execution for impersonating an officer but just before Spitfire is about to can Dodo the Colonel receives a telephone call from a General in Washington DC who’d heard the speech on its nationwide broadcast and thought it was great.

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