Been a couple of months since I did my last Navy Film Review so lets hammer out a short one before dealing with Hallmark’s unleashing of a man named Mr. Darcy.
You may recall that last time we took a look at how to unnecessarily pad out your movie so that by the time the plot you promised happens it’s way too little too late. That being the Greek film Alice In The Navy. This time around we have a short from 1949 made by the United States Navy to try and get sailors to re-enlist after WWII. It’s got everything. Talking animals, green skinned bartenders, and tits. Unfortunately, there is no perky blonde running around in pretty outfits. That is one thing Alice In The Navy did have going for it.
The movie starts off by telling me it is restricted before the fact that it’s a United States Navy Training Film. Then we meet one of the stars of the film. It’s McGinty!
No, not that McGinty. He was still tending bar in 1949. That joke is for you Gary. Our resident Hollywood Snob.
This is just plain old sailor McGinty. We start off by seeing that a sailing life looks rather fun. Although I’m pretty sure this singing sailor was on loan from the Greek navy.
But McGinty is not happy like his fellow sailors.
He wants to be a civilian and make some real dough. They only pay him “90 lousy bucks” in the navy. That’s when the talking seagull shows up of course to tell him he should put that money to good use and get drunk!
By the way, the seagull is voiced by veteran voice actor Daws Butler.
So it’s off to get drunk. That is after sneaking past some S.P. Then he orders a “double zombie and scotch chaser”, but oh no!
It’s either E~3 from E~3: The Extra Testicle (1985) or the Hare Krishna zombie from Dawn Of The Dead (1978). Take your pick.
Now McGinty shares how it really is in the navy. By that I mean that he thinks it’s like being on a slave ship from Ben-Hur (1959) while a guy who sounds like Hitler whips you. Well, one minute you’re a drinking and complaining, then one of those damn dream sequences starts on you.
Hmmm… I see his problem. He should have joined the WAVES. I mean if Cary Grant could be a war bride and Donald O’Connor could join the WACS with a talking mule, then surely this guy could have pulled it off. Of course women were integrated into the regular navy by 1949 so actually I don’t see his problem here.
This is only a dream though, but he’s still in luck because the talking seagull shows up again to magically transport him to civilian life. This is when this recruitment video starts to lose me. The first thing we learn about civilian life is that you have to wake up for work.
As we all know, the navy lets you sleep to your hearts content and simply wake up at any hour you please. He also has to shave because civilian life doesn’t approve of beards unlike the navy. The navy encourages them and later would require it’s female sailors to never shave their legs nor their armpits. All totally true bullshit. Then it’s off to work on a crowded bus.
Okay, I will give them this. Not everyone in the Navy served on a claustrophobic submarine such as in Das Boot (1981). Then he has to clock in because the navy doesn’t keep track of that sort of thing ever.
Now he has to work on an assembly line. Could be worse. Those could be chocolates like Lucy had to deal with. I like the “Positively No Smoking” sign. This part is clearly trying to evoke memories in the sailors watching it of adventures that aren’t like this while apparently also trying to remind them that the navy lets them smoke like chimneys I guess.
Then it’s off to the Cafeteria to wait in line. I’ve never served, but I seriously doubt that lines like this don’t exist on naval vessels.
Now it’s pay day! His paycheck is 300 bucks. Well that is till it’s put through the “Little Gem Deductor”.
Now he gets pulled into an insurance office to discover that it’s going to cost him to retire. Apparently, he could retire for free in the navy. How does that work? The only way that’s actually possible is if by retire they mean a bullet to the head. Regardless, now he has to go shopping.
I like that he goes into all the shops except the one with the big sign that says “Drugs” on it.
After paying rent, it’s back to his room to bitch about civilian life to the talking seagull. By that I mean he threatens to kill the seagull.
But in the dark, the seagull reminds him that he can just re-enlist within 90 days. That’s when the seagull checks off McGinty.
Now McGinty is back swabbing the deck when that damn seagull shows up again. That’s when the seagull drops the bomb on McGinty.
He works for the U.S. Navy! I always knew they were training talking seagulls in secret. Clearly, that’s why it said this video was “Restricted”.
And thus ends this short film with the message “Keep the Fleet to Keep the Peace”. I would love to know how successful this was. I know why they spend their time trying to make civilian life sound terrible because their audience was sailors who already knew how it actually was to serve in the navy at the time. However, notice that they make sure to show this guy being cast out of a family of sailors into a world where he is all alone. I would think that people who were in the navy because of the family and structure were probably already going to re-enlist. As for the one’s for whom family and structure were either not important or already in their civilian life, I can’t see this convincing any of them to stay. It just seems like a video that ultimately isn’t really for anyone. Still, it was fun to watch, and here it is if you want to see it yourself.