Everybody does his or her bit for the war effort in this comedy thriller released in 1943, smack in the middle of World War II. Bob Hope stars as bumbling war correspondent Robert Kittredge, a man so inept that he misses the German invasion of Russia. "I wouldn't even trust you to cover a hole in the carpet!" screams his editor in chief, Mason (Donald MacBride, with the requisite steam coming out of his ears). Then, of course, Kittredge stumbles onto an evil Axis plot and ends up saving the world.
Dorothy Lamour--Hope and Bing Crosby's glamorous love interest in seven Road pictures--appears here sans sarong, playing an intrepid Lois Lane type. But Hope doesn't have to fight Crosby for her affections; "Der Bingle" makes only one brief vocal appearance, via a music box. Subtlety is not this movie's strong suit, and goofy gags abound from the start, with Hope skulking through a Russian hotel disguised as a Cossack to escape creditors. The Axis characters--Germans, Italians, and Japanese--are stereotypical villains all. An uncanny Mussolini look-alike has a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo in an airplane scene, and acclaimed director Otto Preminger proves he's a good sport with his portrayal of a wicked Nazi ringleader. It's all a fun romp, and an interesting look back at the kind of propaganda Hollywood once churned out to help keep the world safe for democracy. --Laura Mirsky
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