'At War With the Army' (1950)
(Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, et al / DVD / NR / (1950) 2014 / Film Chest)
Overview: Alvin Corwin is low man on the totem pole, and goes from one mishap to another at an army training camp in World War II.
DVD Verdict: OK, I guess as this film has history, let's get it out in the open from the off: When Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin signed with Paramount Pictures, it was with the proviso that they could make one film outside the studio every year for their own company, York Productions.
'At War with the Army' (1950) was the first fruit of that negotiation, with the stars exchanging their usual salary for a 90% cut of the profits. However, on the film's release, the two found themselves in the midst of a protracted legal battle over their contract and the profits.
After several years, they relinquished all financial interest in the film in exchange for dropping their stipulation that they make films outside of Paramount. All the legal battles over the film are probably one of the main reasons why its copyright was not renewed in 1977 with the film ending up in the public domain.
Now that's out there, let's get to the actual film. And what a GREAT film it truly is! Indeed, it's a fun WWII-era B&W movie, chock full of Jerry Lewis and his ridiculous goofiness! As noted above, 'At War with the Army' features Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in their first collaboration. I'm pretty sure the film also gave many families some wonderful laugh relief from their January, cabin-fever suffering back in the day.
Jerry is a hapless private and Dean is the bossy First Sergeant of a slipshod platoon at a stateside training base. Jerry and Dean were friends who grew up in the same neighborhood before Uncle Sam made G.I.'s out of them. All of the stereotypical military comedy characters are present, including the loudmouth drill instructor, the conniving supply sergeant, the doting corporal and the bumbling, hen-pecked company commander.
Most of the action takes place in the orderly room, but my favorite scene involves Jerry singing a love song. I don't want to reveal any more details, but I think Jim Carrey may have studied acting by watching Jerry Lewis movies! Even my kids liked this film over other such work of Lewis' such as the original 'The Nutty Professor' - probably because of its lighter tone, I guess!
Oh, and throughout the film, Jerry Lewis gives a Scout salute, rather than a military salute! Why, I don't know, sorry! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.37:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.