11 March 2015 | SimonJack
Nice Cold War escapist film from WW II
The Korean War had been over for five years, and Vietnam was still that many years distant for U.S. combat forces. In 1958, the U.S. and most of the world were in the midst of the Cold War that itself would escalate to near nuclear catastrophe in just a few years. Only a few movies were made in the last half of the decade about WWII after it ended in 1945. Hollywood, Great Britain and other western countries began making more films about WWII in the 1950s. By the late 50s, Hollywood began to make comedy war films. In 1957, "Don't Go Near the Water" was a Navy wartime movie that starred Glenn Ford. In "Imitation General," Ford plays in an Army film as Master Sergeant Murphy Savage.
The small cast are all very good in this pleasant film that has good comedy mixed with some good action. The play and time are France in 1944. Murphy and Corporal Chan Derby, played very well by Red Buttons, are the driver and security for Gen. Charles Lane, played well by Kent Smith. When Lane is killed by German gunfire, Murphy is inadvertently assumed to be a general when a soldier sees him holding the general's steel pot (helmet). One thing leads to another and Murphy assumes the general's ID long enough to pull together some scattered troops in an area who were surrounded by Germans and cut off from their units.
Action and a little mayhem switch back and forth. Murphy's actions and leadership are sure to earn the General high honors and recognition later. The men admired and respected Lane, and Murphy does a credible job as substitute. Oh, yes. The would-be romance piece of plot is included with Taina Elg playing Simone, a young French woman who speaks no English. There is no romance, really, but she helps add some humor to the film.
This isn't a big war production. It has skirmishes with small number of troops. The GIs succeed in a trap and knock out two Panzer tanks. Murphy and Chan take on two more tanks by themselves with helmets filled with mud. You'll have to watch the movie to see how that unfolds. This is an enjoyable and light movie all around. It was a time – spaced between wars – when people could watch a film like this and not think about the German soldiers who were being killed.