|Willie (Dan Dailey) is questioned by French resistance|
WHEN WILLIE COMES MARCHING HOME (1950). Director: John Ford.
After Pearl Harbor, small-town boy and bandleader Bill Kluggs (Dan Dailey) is anxious to enlist. Although his early training doesn't go so well, he eventually develops "the highest rating of any instructor," which means the Army has more use for him in camp than overseas. Unfortunately, said camp is located right in Bill's home town, where he stays -- and stays -- while other men ship out and his neighbors get more and more resentful. Eventually he goes on a mission and winds up behind enemy lines and working with the French resistance, and is sent back to England with important information -- unfortunately he can't talk about the mission. One annoying thing about this otherwise good and funny movie is that no one -- not even Bill's parents -- acknowledge that he's performing an important service as an instructor (an assignment that is not without its dangers). Dailey is excellent, and he has fine support from William Demarest [Pardon My Past] and Evelyn Varden [The Bad Seed] as his parents; Colleen Townsend as his girl, Marge; Jimmy Lydon [Henry Aldrich Haunts a House] as her brother; and Corinne Calvet as a beautiful lady with the French resistance.
Verdict: Well-done and keeps you chuckling, with a fine lead performance. ***.