It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.
This week’s musical:
G.I. Jane (1951) – Musical #689
Reginald Le Borg
Jean Porter, Tom Neal, Iris Adrian, Jimmie Dodd, Jeanne Mahoney, Jimmy Lloyd, Phil Arnold, Michael Whalen, Bobby Watson, Richard Monahan, Jean Coleman, Amie Bates, Jeri Strong, Olive Krushat
While making a WAC recruitment film, TV producer Tim Rawlings (Neal) is receives notice that he is drafted into the U.S. Army. While in the Army, Rawlings wants to bring WACs to the base so the men can have women around. But the WACs that come are led by no-nonsense Lt. Adrian (Adrian) who keep the WACs apart, even as Rawlings falls in love with Jan Smith (Porter).
• Jimmie Dodd wrote two of the songs that he performs in the film, “Gee, I Love My G.I. Jane” and “I Love Girls.”
• The screenplay credit in the film is for January Jeffries, which was a pen name for blacklisted writer Henry Blankfort.
• Prior to production, the Hollywood Reporter announced a contest to find women to fill 10 of the film roles.
• Only film of Jean Coleman, Amie Bates, Jeri Strong, and Olive Krushat, who played WACs
• Jimmie Dodd
• “Gee, I Love My G. I. Jane” performed by Jimmie Dodd and Jean Porter
• “I Love Girls” performed by Jimmie Dodd
• “Line Up and Sign Up in The Army Corps” performed by a chorus of actresses
• “What’s To Be Is Gonna Be” performed by Jean Porter and the chorus
• “Nervous in the Service” performed by Jimmie Dodd
Though not one of Hollywood’s top actors, I always seek out actress Jean Porter in films. Particularly in the 1940s, Porter was a pert, energetic teen in movies.
As Porter’s film career began to slow in the early 1950s, G.I. JANE (1951) is a low-budget but fun movie musical. I sought this one out for the military tie-in and because of Porter.
Starring Jean Porter and Tom Neal, Neal plays Tim, a TV producer who learns that he is drafted while filming a WAC recruitment film. After that, we flash forward to his time in the Army and trying to get WACs on a remote military base, because there aren’t very many women around. Porter plays Jan, one of the WACs that ends up on base. While Tim and Jan fall in love, they are kept apart from a strict WAC lieutenant, played by Iris Adrian. It ends with a very “Dallas”-like ending.
Running at a brisk 62-minutes, G.I. JANE (1951) is low budget but doubles as a WAC recruitment film.
Columnist Jimmie Fidler described it as a low budget musical and “cinematic fluff, bound together by a plot that will try your patience, but it does have a fair quota of good music and good chuckles.”
I tend to agree with Fidler’s assessment.
I loved seeing Jean Porter and Jimmie Dodd (later of Mickey Mouse Club fame), in this. Both sang some fun songs and had energetic, likeable characters. Iris Adrian was another major highlight. She plays a different character as a military leader.
Tom Neal is fine. By 1951, he was past his famous film noir roles. G.I. JANE was released in July 1951, and by Sept. 1951, Neal was in the news for beating up actor Franchot Tone. Neal later had murder charges against him in 1965. I have a hard time feeling too warm towards him in any film, though I know we should separate film and real-life personalities.
Anyhow, G.I. JANE was good, low budget fun with some fun music.
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