9 January 2005 | rsoonsa
Naught Here Added To The Formula.
Fifth in the series of Universal Studios' talking mule movies, this entry provides very little that is not predictable since the Francis films, in spite of their scripted absurdity, were calculable successes at the box office and there was scant cause to use innovation. Peter Stirling (Donald O'Connor), is recalled to active Army duty, but when the hapless lieutenant is assigned to a Women's Army Corps (WAC) detachment due to a flawed clerical procedure in the Pentagon, neither he nor his new distaff officer companions are pleased with a nonsensical situation. His WAC superiors believe that Peter has been planted as a scout and is being used to undermine their efforts opposing a men's army unit in an upcoming War Games matchup, and Peter and Francis invent a method to persuade the women that he is not there for clandestine purposes. The quaint pair is capable of attempting this because Peter's proxy specialty is training women soldiers to become camouflage experts and since the Games are going to be focused upon just such activity, the situation is readied for crucial events. The film was completed in Spring of 1954, shot primarily at California's Fort Ord, with numerous WACS assigned there being employed as extras in a film that pleasingly reflects the result of high-quality production values contributed by the Universal management. Arthur Lubin, director of all six of the O'Connor featured Francis films, offers sluggish pacing with this item, largely due to an overly complicated scenario that weighs down the final section dealing with camouflage competition between the military men and women. As with all Francis pictures, a primary interest in this one relates to early performances of well-known actors, including the initial yelps of fear from "Scream Queen" Allison Hayes, and Universal ingénues Mamie Van Doren and Julia Adams, although the best playing is by veteran ZaSu Pitts as an undone Army nurse; clever thematic scoring by Irving Gertz was used years later by the Studio for other releases.