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

Thursday, August 23, 2018


UP IN ARMS (1944). Director: Elliott Nugent.

Danny Weems (Danny Kaye, in his film debut) is a hopeless hypochondriac who not only thinks he has every ailment imaginable but convinces others as well (in the film's funniest sequences). Danny is also hopelessly smitten with pretty Mary (Constance Dowling) who only has eyes for Danny's buddy, Joe (Dana Andrews of Where the Sidewalk Ends). Meanwhile, nurse Virginia (Dinah Shore of Follow the Boys) is unrequitedly in love with Danny. Then Danny and Joe get drafted and the two gals join up as nurses, wherein all four find themselves on a ship sailing into the Pacific war zone. Up in Arms is supposedly a remake of Eddie Cantor's Whoopee, with the setting transferred from the wild west to WW2, where the sight of singing and dancing on a ship sailing into combat seems pretty silly. Indeed, although the movie starts off quite well, it soon becomes a little too silly, although Kaye is a wonderful performer and emerged a major star after this. Andrews, Dowling and Shore are marvelous support, and Shore gets to sing two memorable numbers, "Wildest Dreams" and "I Had a Man." A very odd sequence occurs when the two men and the two gals are sitting back to back on a bus, carrying on a conversation while pretending (according to military edict) not to know one another, with the result that it appears as if Kaye and Andrews -- and Dowling and Shore -- are wooing one another! The decidedly homophobic reactions from the other passengers, considering the time period, are a little discomfiting! Other cast members include Lyle Talbot (typically bland as a sergeant); Louis Calhern as a colonel; Margaret Dumont [Shake, Rattle and Roll], looking rather slender in a scene in a movie theater lobby; Elisha Cook Jr., Benny Baker, and George Mathews as fellow sailors; and Virginia Mayo as one of the beauteous Goldwyn Girls -- in short order Mayo would be deservedly co-starring with Kaye in several pictures. Constance Dowling (sister of Doris Dowling) was a pretty, perfectly competent actress, somewhat reminiscent of Veronica Lake, who made her debut in this film and made just a few others, often in Italy.

Verdict: Amiable nonsense that has little to do with the actual war. **1/2. 

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