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(1930 b 80')

En: 5 Ed: 4

Buster Keaton as a rich man become private satirized the world war.

Elmer Stuyvesant (Buster Keaton) with flowers and a Rolls Royce is repeatedly turned down by Mary (Sally Eilers) for a date. Looking to hire a new chauffeur, Elmer stumbles into a recruiting office and is signed up for the army before he realizes it; then he refuses to take off his clothes. He is drilled by Sergeant Brophy (Edward Brophy). Calling his father about the lack of respect for his social position, Elmer says he intends to resign; but he apparently changes his mind after he meets Mary, who has joined the army too. The sergeant drills them on bayonet practice. Elmer understands why the enemy would not like it. After the sergeant demonstrates vigorously with a dummy, Elmer and others faint. Passes have been canceled; but the sergeant and Elmer go to Mary's house anyway. The sergeant throws Elmer out as Mary denies she knows him; then she rejects the sergeant. On the boat to France Mary cannot explain to Elmer because he is caught without his clothes.

In "sunny France" they march in the rain and mud. Elmer is on sentry duty when Mary explains she denied knowing him so that the sergeant would not hurt him, and she kisses Elmer. The next morning a father catches Elmer sleeping in his daughter's bedroom. His sergeant is warned by the captain, and Mary is jealous. His ukulele friend Nescopeck (Cliff Edwards) arranges for Elmer to be dressed as a woman in a dance number that ends up in a wrestling match with his partner. As bombs fall, a call to arms results in their marching through the mud to the trenches at the front. The frustrated Elmer is ready for the war; but he is not chosen to bring in a prisoner. On his own he goes out and mistakenly brings in Nescopeck. Elmer goes back out, and in the German trenches he meets his former employee Gustave, who explains they have no ammunition nor food. Elmer offers to bring them food, and they give him a lugar as a souvenir. Returning to his lines, the lugar is found to be wrapped in a map of German positions. He is given two weeks rest and finds Mary. They run from aircraft until Gustave tells him that the war is over, asking for his old job back. In the final scene Elmer is running a business, offering a new ukulele and ordering around his old sergeant.

Though rather uneven, this story shows the folly of modern warfare from the view of a rich young man struggling as a private being trained to kill.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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