27 March 2008 | jozefkafka
Jack Webb at his zaniest?!
That rarest of cinematic animals: A Jack Webb comedy...
That is, an INTENTIONAL Jack Webb comedy. In at least one interview Mitchum claimed this was his favorite role, because he "got paid $400,000 in advance". Mitchum plays Archie Hall, a charming con man who's always scamming his army superiors during WW2. Hall was real person, an army buddy of screenwriter William Bowers (played by Webb in his stiffly pseudo-relaxed "Joe Friday takes the weekend off" manner). But Mitchum with his "who gives a damn" attitude isn't really suited to playing a con man -- it's a role that would've suited, say, Tony Curtis better.
The supporting cast of character comics -- Robert Strauss and Harvey Lembeck (reunited 8 years after Stalag 17) as knucklehead sergeants, plus Louis Nye, Joe Flynn, and Del Moore as Mitchum's patsies in the platoon -- come off best, even if Nye overacts quite a bit. This may be the best part Moore ever had (and don't give me that Nutty Ptofessor crap -- Moore was wasted as Jerry's stooge). Too bad Moore never got a career-boosting TV gig (the way Flynn did with McHale's Navy), he was a very talented farceur.