19 June 2017 | boblipton
Things Ain't What They Used to Be
Somewhere in England is a Home Guard training camp, where youngsters and veterans from apparently, the War of the Roses, are undergoing basic training. The oldsters include drill sergeant Harry Korris and recruit Frank Randle. They spend much of the film doing bits of their stage acts, including an extended stretch towards the end when Randle recreates one of his "Happy Hiker" routines. They sing some mildly bawdy songs, including one written by fellow Northern favorite George Formby. There is a bit of a "serious" subplot in which youngster Harry Kemble is accused of theft, but that is handwaved away by the end. The whole things ends with a patriotic chorus number.
It would be reasonable to write this one off as simply another worthless quota quickie of no value, but I am reminded of some of the Judy Canova and "Weaver Brothers & Elviry" comedies from Republic in the same era. Republic Pictures is best remembered for its great number of well-produced B westerns, starring Roy Rogers and John Wayne, but their hillbilly comedies were wildly popular in their rural audiences. While in England, George Formby Jr. and Gracie Fields can be cited as the top-end of the Lancaster Lads and Lasses, and are still fondly remembered, movies like these were more typical examples of the genre. Republic produced a John Ford western and his final Oscar winner, THE QUIET MAN.
This movie, although not a particularly brilliant piece of cinema, nonetheless preserves some stage bits that were very popular in their time.... even if, like many a Republic western, it never played at a movie palace in the big city.