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At War With The Army

At War With The Army

By Patrick Samuel • February 11th, 2014
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
Paramount Pictures

Original release: December 30th, 1950
Running time: 93 minutes

Director: Hal Walker
Writers: James Allardice, Fred Finklehoffe

Cast: Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis

At War With The Army

Believe ti or not, there was time when I considered joining the army. I thought, being of a meticulous nature that verges on OCD, that the ordered lifestyle might be good for me. Routine, rules and regulations are all the things I usually thrive on, but the training video I was shown during my meeting before signing up put something of a damper on things. Perhaps I hadn’t thought it through enough. It was the intense physical training I’d have to endure that put me off. Back then I even hated it at school with one hour of either rugby, football and basketball a week. With no sense of coordination I was hopeless, so the idea that the army would be relying on me getting through it would’ve been something akin to being at war with the army itself!

The irony wasn’t lost on my family and they all had a good laugh at my expense, likening me to none other than Jerry Lewis in this classic 1950 comedy. In At War With The Army he plays Private First Class Korwin, alongside Dean Martin as Vic Puccinelli, their first feature film together. The pair are former nightclub partners who enlisted in the United States Army at end of 1944 and are stationed at an army post in Kentucky. While Puccinelli busies himself with trying to get transferred from his dull job to active duty overseas, Korwin wants a pass to get home and see his wife and new baby. They also have the Army’s talent show to rehearse for and they’re keen to avoid the wrath of Alvin’s platoon sergeant, Sergeant McVey (Mike Kellin).

The film’s set-up, based on a short run play on Broadway, is really quite simple and it doesn’t get weighed down by too many details in the plot. This allows for our comedy duo to raise as many laughs as possible in the time they’re given on-screen together, building on the chemistry that audiences and execs at Paramount were quick to notice in their supporting roles in My Friend Irma and its sequel My Friend Irma Goes West.

At War With The Army
Like with Abbott and Costello a decade earlier, who became big stars with a couple of WWII military films, Buck Privates and In the Navy, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis sealed their own success with At War With The Army and went on to star in 14 films together before they split in 1956 and launched their solo careers in the wake of a bitter falling out.

Placing the pair on an army based, we see them getting into all sorts of crazy situations, including Lewis in drag with his hairy chest showing over the neckline of his dress as he sings in a husky voice to Sergeant McVey. The scene is made even more hilarious by Martin’s underplayed double-take as he mumbles, “No, couldn’t be,” when walking past them. At War With The Army At work there’s much to contend with, such as a Post Exchange worker who’s pregnant, a company commander who gets all his information from his wife, a scheming supply sergeant, a defective Coca Cola machine and a lot of beans, beans, beans in a memorable musical number sung again by Lewis.

While Martin gets to showcase much of his singing skills here as well, we get to see what a remarkable showman Lewis is too. He sings, dances and hams up every scene he’s in, if not with his clowning around, then certainly with his adorable facial expressions. Paired together in this first film of theirs, Martin and Lewis were a winning combination with a certain je ne sais quoi that even Laurel and Hardy or Abbott and Costello didn’t have.

With so many of their great films to choose from, including Sailor Beware, The Caddy and Artists and Models, I’ll always remain especially fond of At War With The Army, not only because it was the beginning of something beautiful, but it also reminds me that I narrowly escaped a life of “nothing but beans”!

At War With The Army

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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