When I was 8 or 9 years old, I was already a fan of comedy teams. I liked Abbott and Costello, and and I was fond of the Three Stooges. Then I saw a movie called My Friend Irma, and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis became my favorites. I especially liked Jerry. He was skinny and goofy-looking and a klutz. I could identify all too easily. So naturally I went to see At War with the Army, which I thought was the very soul of sophisticated wit. Watching it again the other day, I decided that I might've been wrong, but some of it's still funny to me, and I still love "The Navy Gets the Gravy and the Army Gets the Beans."
The idea is that Dean and Jerry are in the Army during WWII. Dean is a sergeant, and Jerry is, of course, a private. They were friends and partners in civilian life, but now Dean is a bully and treats Jerry terribly. There's no reason for this at all, unless it's Dean's frustration with being stuck behind a desk when he wants to be in Europe, fighting.
The movie's based on a play, and the first half is very stage-bound. Some of the stuff is funny, and the jokes even reminded me a little of Catch-22. Unfortunately, Jerry makes a jaw-droppingly tone deaf joke about concentration camps. It might have gotten by in 1950, but it's really a flop now.
The second half of the movie opens things out, and if you've ever wanted to see Jerry Lewis in drag, this is your chance. I'll bet this part cracked me up in the old days.
Dean and Jerry do a few bits together, and the best one is their impersonation of Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald. Both of them are dead on target.
I'm not 8 or 9 years old anymore, and I don't laugh at the same things now that I did when I was young, but I still got some amusement from this movie. I'm not sure anyone else would, though.