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

Thursday, March 1, 2018


Maxene, Patti and LaVerne Andrews
PRIVATE BUCKEROO (1942). Director: Edward F. Cline.

When band leader Harry James, playing himself, is drafted, his singer Lon Prentice (Dick Foran), decides to enlist. His sergeant is "Muggsy" Shavel (Shemp Howard of the Three Stooges), who is engaged to Bonnie (Mary Wickes), who finds herself drawn to another singer and comic, Biff (Joe E. Lewis). Lon finds himself on the outs with his fellow soldiers because he requests and (inexplicably) receives special privileges, which doesn't help when he tries to romance Joyce (Jennifer Holt). Meanwhile the top-billed Andrews Sisters perform both in James' nightclub and on the base, wouldn't you know? Private Buckeroo, which is the name of a song warbled by Foran, is modestly entertaining, without much of a plot, but it has its charms, chief among them the Andrews Sisters performing "Tell It to the Marines" and "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree." There is also a nifty dance number done by a bunch of talented teenagers, and Dick Foran delivers a fine rendition of "Nobody Knows the Troubles I've Seen." Shemp Howard and Mary Wickes make a winning combo; Dick Foran [Violent Road], who started out as a band singer and eventually became an excellent dramatic actor, has a very nice baritone; and Susan Levine makes an adorable "Tagalong," Joyce's little sister. Donald O'Connor, Peggy Ryan, and Huntz Hall have smaller roles. Harry James plays a mean trumpet, but he proves not to be much of an actor. This is a rare opportunity to see the real singer-comedian Joe E. Lewis, who was played by Frank Sinatra (who looked nothing like Lewis) in The Joker is Wild. Lewis is rather amusing in this as he squares off with rival Shemp Howard.

Verdict: More than passable patriotic Universal musical. **1/2.


angelman66 said...

I remember this one fondly, with its great cast and rousing musical numbers. Pure Forties propaganda, but very entertaining! The Andrews Sisters were indeedamazing, and I even have some of their tunes on my iPhone!!

William said...

They were damned good singers doing snappy stuff that still resonates today, although I'm sure they would seem corny by today's standards.