Today, we’ve got some fun with another service comedy from 1941! This time, it’s Caught In The Draft starring Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour. Of course, as always, we’ll start things off with a theatrical short, then move on to the main event.
Coming Up Shorts! with… Out-Foxed (1949)
(Available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 from Warner Archive Collection)
(Length: 8 minutes, 18 seconds)
A group of hunting dogs (including Droopy) are promised a steak if they can bring in a fox. It’s the old type of “hunter vs. prey” cartoon, but, hey, it’s Tex Avery. Most of the fun is watching the way the British fox outsmarts all the hunting dogs (even using some of their own tricks against them). Only complaint here is that, for a Droopy cartoon, he’s more like a minor character. Still, as I said before, it’s Tex Avery, it’s Droopy, and therefore, always worth a few good laughs!
And Now For The Main Feature…
32-year-old movie actor Don Bolton (Bob Hope) has a problem with loud noises (particularly gunshots), which scare him to the point of fainting. This is a big problem for him, as the U.S. Senate is currently working on a bill to institute the draft for men in the age group of 21 to 40. While on the set for his latest film, he meets the visiting Colonel Peter Fairbanks (Clarence Kolb) and his daughter, Antoinette “Tony” (Dorothy Lamour). Don decides to try going out with Tony and get married, in the hope that he will be able to avoid the draft. She is open to his interest in her (although she doesn’t know his real motives), and he does propose. Almost immediately after his proposal, they hear on the radio that the age limit for the draft will be up to 31 years of age. Don starts trying to worm his way out of his proposal, and Tony, realizing why he wanted to marry her, breaks things off with him. With it becoming more official that the age range for the draft is up to 35 years of age, he tries to make up with her. In order to do so, he tries to fake enlisting in the army, but at the recruitment center, he is stuck dealing with a real recruitment officer (not the fake he had tried to hire). So, now he is in the army, and Don is joined by his agent Steve Riggs (Lynne Overman) and his assistant Bert Sparks (Eddie Bracken). They are assigned to the camp that Colonel Fairbanks is in charge of, and Don (who has fallen for Tony for real) tries to restart their relationship. However, Tony also wants her father’s blessing, and he won’t give it until Don can attain the rank of corporal. Will Don he able to achieve that rank (and marry Tony), or will he and his buddies be failures as soldiers?
Caught In The Draft is the fourth film that Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour made together, following their earlier films The Big Broadcast Of 1938, Road To Singapore and Road To Zanzibar. Of course, this film marks a slight departure from those earlier films. For one thing, it is just them. There’s no love triangle/rectangle with others involved, just these two (well, unless you count Bob Hope’s characters’ usual love affair with himself). And, with that, their relationship is far different, as she sees him with his issues that he has to actually try to overcome. Thus, there is a bit more give-and-take between them than there was previously.
Overall, I enjoy this movie. Sure, it has some things that haven’t aged well (I’d certainly argue that Bob Hope’s character’s “fear” of loud noises might be treated differently if the movie were made nowadays). I’m not overly fond of the section of the movie pre-enlistment, as Bob Hope’s character is hard to root for (again, I can understand the fear of loud noises, but I don’t like how he is willing to marry somebody long enough to avoid the draft and then just drop them). Once everybody is enlisted (and I will admit, that enlistment scene is probably funnier because we want to see the character drafted because of what he had already done), the movie (and the comedy) improve. Obviously, we’ve got them doing the “inept new soldier” thing, with drills, tank driving, and (almost) parachuting. I’ve only had the chance to see the movie twice now (over a long period of time), but it was fun seeing this movie both times, not only for Bob and Dottie, but also for Eddie Bracken and Lynne Overman’s characters, who also add to the comedy. It’s a fun wartime comedy, and certainly one I would recommend!
This movie is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics from a new 4K master. This release looks pretty good, with a nice, crisp picture. It’s been mostly cleaned up (with a few places here and there that have minor dirt). Overall, this Blu-ray would certainly be the way that I’d recommend seeing this movie!
Film Length: 1 hour, 22 minutes
My Rating: 8/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
Road To Zanzibar (1941) – Bob Hope – Nothing But The Truth (1941)
Road To Zanzibar (1941) – Dorothy Lamour – Road To Morocco (1942)
Road To Zanzibar (1941) – Bob Hope/Dorothy Lamour (screen team) – Road To Morocco (1942)
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