At War With the Army

At War With the Army

Comedy, Musical, Romance, War | 93 mins | Released: 1950
Director: Hal Walker
Starring: Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Mike Kellin, Jemmie Dundee, Dick Stabile, Tommy Farrell, Frank Hyers
Our Rating: 7
Black & White

Set at an army post in Kentucky at the end of 1944, Vic Puccinelli and Alvin Korwin are former nightclub partners who are now enlisted in the United States Army. First Sergeant Puccinelli (Dean Martin) now ranks above his former equal, Private First Class Korwin (Jerry Lewis).

Puccinelli is desperately trying to get transferred from his dull job to active duty overseas, but is not only refused transfer but is to be commissioned a Warrant Officer. Meanwhile, Korwin desperately wants a pass to see his wife and new baby. In addition, they both have to rehearse for the Army’s talent show and avoid the wrath of Alvin’s platoon sergeant, Sergeant McVey (Mike Kellin).

Along the way they both sing a few songs, and they do an impression of Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald by recreating a scene from Going My Way for the talent show. Further complications include a Post Exchange worker who is pregnant, a company commander who gets all his information from his wife, a scheming supply sergeant, and a defective Coca Cola machine.

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Movie Notes:

At War with the Army is a 1950 musical comedy film directed by Hal Walker and starring the comedy team of Martin and Lewis and introducing Polly Bergen. It was filmed from July through August 1949 and released on December 30, 1950 by Paramount. It was re-released in 1958 by OMAT Pictures.

Although filmed before My Friend Irma Goes West, it was held back until the sequel to Martin and Lewis’ smash film debut My Friend Irma was released.

When Martin and Lewis signed their film contract with Paramount Pictures, they were allowed to make one film “outside” the studio per year through their own company, York Productions. This film was made under that provision, with the stars taking a small salary in exchange for 90 percent of the film’s profits.

However, upon its release, Martin and Lewis ended up in a long, drawn-out legal battle. After several years, they relinquished all financial interest in this film in exchange for not having to make any more of these “outside” ones.

The film is based on a play by James B. Allardice that ran for 151 performances from 1948-49 with Mike Kellin and Kenneth Forbes repeating their roles.

The producers opened up the play by adding a sequence of an Absent Without Leave Lewis in drag fending off the amorous advances of his drunken platoon sergeant, a sequence on an obstacle course and the addition of several songs written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans.

One of the later Martin and Lewis films, Sailor Beware had a working title of At Sea with the Navy.

Although Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin had appeared together in films twice before, this marks their first starring vehicle as a comedy duo.

This is the film debut of Mike Kellin.

Throughout the film, Jerry Lewis gives a Scout salute, rather than a military salute.

This is the film debut of Danny Dayton.

For the first half of the opening song, “Beans”, Alvin has a bandage on his finger (left hand, middle finger). Halfway through the song, the bandage disappears.

In the scene where Sgt. McVay is checking for dust, he wipes his dirty fingers on Corwin’s shirt, leaving a dirty smudge. On the next shot, Corwin’s shirt is clean again.

You and Your Beautiful Eyes, lyrics by Mack David. music by Jerry Livingston, sung by Dean Martin and Polly Bergen
Tonda Wanda Hoy, lyrics by Mack David, music by Jerry Livingston, sung by Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis on separate occasions
Beans, lyrics by Mack David, music by Jerry Livingston, sung by Jerry Lewis and cast
Swanee River, written by Stephen Foster, played by the band
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral (That’s an Irish Lullaby), (uncredited), music and Lyrics by J.R. Shannon, sung by Dean Martin