Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Overlooked Movies: Wake Me When It's Over

Ah, the military comedy.  Once a staple, not hard to find.  Here's a good one that's both a forgotten movie and an even better forgotten book (which I've read twice and may read again).   Both book and movie had a big influence on my life because the division of people into schnooks and yulds seemed to me to explain so much about my own personality.

The plot is pretty complicated.  Dick Shawn is a schnook.  When anything can go wrong for him, it will.  Because of a complicated series of events, he appears to have served only one day in the military in WWII (The Big One), though he served much longer and spent two years in a prison camp.  As a result of the mistake, he's drafted again and sent to a Japanese island in the middle of nowhere.  A wild and crazy Ernie Kovacs is the commanding officer, which tells you a bit about how things are there.  There are 100 Americans stationed on the island, and they have little to occupy their time.  The Japanese who live there don't like the Americans and in fact still have a shrine to a downed Japanese plane.  

The cast is great and has a lot of fun with the concept.  Don Knotts has another great military comedy turn (the first is in No Time for Sergeants), and Kovacs is Kovacs.  The plot, as I said, is complicated, but the schnookish Shawn finally turns his life around.  Just thinking about this one makes me want to pull out the book again. Or maybe the movie's on Netflix.  I checked.  No such luck.

8 comments:

  1. One I've seen so long ago I barely remember anything about it but Kovacs, but that is a pretty impressive cast. And, wow, yes, no one seems to have dug it out for any sort of home use.

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  2. And I should seek out that novel, as well...

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  3. I never thought of military comedies as a genre, but I guess it is because I can think of a bunch. Ernie Kovacs always seemed like he knew more than he was letting on--about everything.

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  4. Perhaps in the pre-Vietnam War military, when the draft was being applied with relative fairness and a broad cross-section of the male population served, it was easier to find (as Readers Digest would put it) humor in uniform.

    My favorite is "Rally Round the Flag Boys" with Paul Newman.

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  5. I've done a post on that one, Deb. I love it.

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  6. I'd also run "Operation Mad Ball" up the flag pole for a salute. Great cast including Jack Lemmon, Ernie Kovacs, Mickey Rooney, Dick York, Kathryn Grant (et many al)!

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  7. I agree, Bud. Another one I remember fondly.

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  8. I'd watch Kovacs do anything. His TV show was wonderfully nutty, and I missed the guy when he was gone.

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