8 April 2019 | SnoopyStyle
It's WWI. Reluctant Army recruit Fred P. Willis (Spencer Tracy) befriends Jimmy Davis who is an even worst recruit. Jimmy faints in a simple training exercise for fear of killing a person. Once in the war, he takes out a machine gun position and gets horribly wounded. His blood lust has grown so much that he kills a surrendering enemy. He falls for nurse Rose who actually likes Fred. With Fred presumed killed, Jimmy and Rose get married. Fred escapes from German prison just in time to be Jimmy's best man. After the war, Fred is a lowly circus worker and he finds Jimmy had turned into a gangster.
With WWII looming, an anti-war movie like this would become an endangered species. Spencer Tracy is fine but this should be Jimmy's movie. It's a movie about Jimmy. By making Fred the lead, there is a distance to Jimmy's transformation. That's part of the reason why it seems so abrupt instead of many smaller transformations. It's not so character growth as much as character jumps. From the fainting guy to the cold blooded killer, Jimmy needs the screen time to do the work. That's not to say that Franchot Tone is capable of leading a big movie. Quite simply, Jimmy's descend into violence doesn't feel correct. Without that, this becomes a melodramatic love triangle. Spencer Tracy is perfectly capable of leading the triangle. It's not the greatest. It's fine to watch this for his fans.