Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 13, 2017


Martha Raye, Carole Landis, Kay Francis, Mitzi Mayfair
FOUR JILLS IN A JEEP (1944). Director: William A. Seiter.

Loosely based on the wartime experiences of the four leading ladies, this has them playing themselves as they go on an entertainment tour for the fighting GI's. Kay Francis, who can't sing or dance, acts as the mistress of ceremonies, while Carole Landis sings, Mitzi Mayfair dances, and Martha Raye (who was not a bad singer herself) mugs and makes the usual jokes about her appearance. John Harvey [The Man with My Face]  plays Landis' love interest, who marries her during the film (Landis did marry an Army man during the war but the union only lasted two years). Phil Silvers plays the Army jeep driver who escorts the ladies everywhere and tries to get a date with Raye. Dick Haymes [Irish Eyes are Smiling] is cast as Mayfield's love interest and he offers a smooth delivery of a couple of romantic ballads. Bandleader Jimmy Dorsey [Lost in a Harem] is pleasant playing himself. Landis' apprehension when Harvey, a flier, is late in coming back from a mission is well delineated, but it leads to an odd sequence. One of the other pilots crashes off-screen and literally a second later Harvey shows up for a clinch., but neither of them ever say a word about the flier who was presumably killed, making them seem cold-blooded to say the least. The film's highlights include Mayfair's scintillating dance numbers; Betty Grable singing "Cuddle Up a Little Closer;" the drag queen-like Carmen Miranda dancing and warbling in her inimitable manner; and especially Alice Faye's moving rendition of  her haunting signature tune, "You''ll Never Know." Another terrific number, Rayes' "With a Wing and a Prayer," was left on the cutting room floor but can be seen on the DVD along with Miranda's rendition of "Mama yo quero." The songs were by McHugh and Adamson. Mayfair was essentially a Broadway tap dancer and made few films. She's cute, perky, and talented, and could have had a nice career playing second leads in romantic musicals.

Verdict: For what it is, a kind of time capsule with good performances from all. ***.


angelman66 said...

Nice cast, I need to check this out. I have a soft spot for WWII movies, especially the ones featuring the ladies. My favorite of the era is the nonmusical So Proudly We Hail, with Claudette Colbert, Veronica Lake and I think Paulette Goddard...

William said...

Haven't seen that one in many years. And there was a wac movie with Margaret Sullavan whose title I can't recall -- Cry Havoc??