This is a zany, screwball comedy of the 1950s where four ex-service men (Edmond O'Brien, Johnny Sands, Richard Erdman, and Steve Brodie) from WWII meet a small, young WAVE, Jean Madison (Wanda Hendrix) or the "Admiral," who is waiting for her fiancÚ to return from Paris.
From the beginning when Jimmy Stevens (Edmond O'Brien) catches sight of the Admiral, he begins following her and introducing her to their unique twists of living without officially "working." He seems resolved to allow her to walk out of his life until threatened by Peter Pedigrew, the jukebox king, (Rudy Vallee) for him and his men to "go to work" unless they prevent her from leaving town. Pedigrew's reasoning is simply that his unscrupulous twice-divorced ex-wife whom he admires greatly, Shirley (Hillary Brooke), who promised to marry him again so he can expand his business, met Henry, the Admiral's fiancÚ, on the boat from Paris and is using any means to prevent Henry and the Admiral meeting, therefore, keeping Henry for herself.
Other than endeavoring to influence Jimmy's crew back to work while still enjoying the experience of their unique lifestyle, things run smoothly until the Admiral sees Henry with Shirley and finds out that Jimmy and the others had been lying to her the entire time. However, they prove to her by a note written by Shirley that Henry is not completely at fault, and she decides to continue with them increasing the romantic tension growing between her and Jimmy. When they nearly catch Shirley, she escapes thwarting her ex-husband once again and delaying the reunion between the Admiral and Henry, and, from the Admiral's interference with Jimmy's crew, he insists she remain in Pedigrew's care.
Nevertheless, she visits them again catching Eddie (Johnny Sands) alone and discovering the secret of his disillusioned love affair with the unseen, Lois. In order to mistakenly help Eddie, the Admiral encourages Mike (Steve Brodie) to go back to boxing until Jimmy charges in informing her that Mike could die because of a war wound. He then is forced to replace Mike in the ring and is knocked out. When the Admiral tries to explain she was helping Eddie, Jimmy then explains what his whole purpose for living such a strange life was. He was trying to teach Eddie that money isn't everything and he should patch up his relationship with Lois. Eddie overhears, thanks Jimmy, and leaves determined to find Lois and come to some sort of solution regarding their lives.
Afterwards, Jimmy explodes at the Admiral for her interference and Mike explains about Jimmy's long guilt complex regarding the crash of their airplane during the war. Pedigrew enters enthusiastic about Shirley's decision to remarry him and Jimmy drags the Admiral to where predetermined house to meet Henry. Just as Henry is about to enter the scene, Jimmy discovers that the Admiral had changed her mind several reels before and no longer wanted the oh-so-perfect Henry but instead was in-love with him. Running Time: 87 Minutes
MPAA Ratings: Approved
Really enjoyable movie set just after WWII about a woman ensign (nicknamed the admiral) who falls in with a gang of lovable losers - four ex-GIs who work diligently from dusk to dawn at finding ways to avoid work. There's a silly subplot about them trying to get her back together with her long lost fiancee, and an even sillier sub-sub plot about a rich millionaire and meddling detectives. The main point of interest is the repartee between the "admiral" and the men. Sometimes she's tough as nails, but at other points it's like Dorothy's relationship with the tin man, the lion and the scarecrow. Would really like to see a computer-enhanced remake with Humphrey Bogart as Jimmy, Marilyn Monroe as Jean and Edward Herrmann as the millionaire. Favorite line - "how can such a nice man be so useless?"
The Hollywood treatment of the problems of returning servicemen after World War 2 took many forms - sob stories, psychological dramas, films noirs, even musicals - but this film is unusual, perhaps even unique, in giving them an irreverent screwball slant. The script sparkles with wise-cracking dialogue, and the action proceeds headlong in unpredictable directions. It is the sort of movie that the phrase "never a dull moment" was coined for. The two leads did full justice to their parts, but they lacked the star status to impress the critics. If Claudette Colbert and Cary Grant had been cast, or Jean Arthur and Jimmy Stewart, they could have performed no better, but this film would now be assured of its place in the annals of screwball comedy instead of being neglected and almost forgotten.
Albert S. Rogell
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