Military Comedy Films

A Critical Survey and Filmography of Hollywood Releases Since 1918


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About the Book

Beginning with Charlie Chaplin’s Shoulder Arms, released in America near the end of World War I, the military comedy film has been one of Hollywood’s most durable genres. This generously illustrated history examines over 225 Army, Navy and Marine–related comedies produced between 1918 and 2009, including the abundance of laughspinners released during World War II in the wake of Abbott and Costello’s phenomenally successful Buck Privates (1941), and the many lighthearted service films of the immediate postwar era, among them Mister Roberts (1955) and No Time for Sergeants (1958). Also included are discussions of such subgenres as silent films (The General), military-academy farces (Brother Rat), women in uniform (Private Benjamin), misfits making good (Stripes), anti-war comedies (MASH), and fact-based films (The Men Who Stare at Goats). A closing filmography is included in this richly detailed volume.

About the Author(s)

Hal Erickson is the author of numerous media-related books and was for many years a primary editor of the All-Movie Guide website. He lives and works in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Bibliographic Details

Hal Erickson

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 428
Bibliographic Info: 100 photos, filmography, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6290-2
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9267-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction 3
1. “I surrounded them!” Charlie Chaplin and Shoulder Arms 17
2. Run Silent, Run Shallow: The Silent Service Comedies 22
3. First Line of Offense: “Professional” Comedians in Talkie Service Comedies 48
4. Abbott and Costello Meet the Ripoffs 90
5. Repeated Rounds: The “Series” Films 106
6. You Know What Sailors Are: Comedies About Seafaring Men 133
7. The Few, the Proud, the Funny: Comedies About the Marines 145
8. You Read the Book! You Loved the Play! Now See the Movie! 159
9. It’s Still the Same Old Story … Sort Of: See Here, Private Hargrove and Biloxi Blues 189
10. Stranger Than Fiction 199
11. The Wheeler Dealers 213
12. It Ain’t Stupid If It Works: The “Misfit-Makes-Good” Comedy 240
13. The Children’s Crusade: Military-Academy Comedies 253
14. “Holy Smokes! A Dame!”: Women in the Military 265
15. Special Ops 276
16. PR/CYA 285
17. The Home Front 298
18. No Laughing Matter? Comedies About the Civil War and Vietnam 314
19. “One, Two Three, What Are We Fighting For?” Anti-War and Anti-Military Comedies 337
20. “The Mother of All Movies”: Satires and Parodies 358
21. Extra Added Attractions: The Cartoons 369
Filmography 377
Bibliography 395
Index 401

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “fascinating…attention to detail is impressive. Recommended”—Choice
  • “essential”—The NYMAS Review
  • “the author discusses the inspiration for many films and the political and social climate the movie was created in”—ARBA.