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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Up Front (1951)



Reviews and Comments

The bear-faced World War II comic strip characters Willie and Joe are brought to life in this feature film, based on Bill Maudlin's book of the same name. The movie was funny and successful enough to warrant a sequel the following year. The stars are Tom Ewell and David Payne, and their delightful charisma and chemistry carries this movie a long way. The accomplishment here, besides the creation of an entertaining movie, is how the movie uses World War II for laughs, does not depict the war with the brutal honesty that would have capped the humor, and yet still manages to show respect for the soldiers and what they went through. This movie, while its primary purpose is to have fun, takes a clear stance on the side of the common soldier and his plight.

The plot involves all kind of shenanigans on and behind the lines. Willie and Joe get into all kinds of trouble just trying to do what they think is right. And if an indulgent opportunity knocks and no one's looking, well, you only live once, right? Although the characters and situations are completely different, the ever-increasing trouble the boys get into, one fix after another, reminded me of the Blondie films, also, curiously, based on comic strip characters.

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