He’s in the Army Now – Private Buckaroo (1942)

Coming out near the start of the war, Private Buckaroo is a classic feel-good, patriotic flag-waver that may not have the biggest of stars but pulls it off quite well.

Clocking in at just over an hour, the film begins with Harry James, the erstwhile bandleader who seems to make an appearance in every wartime musical, getting drafted. Dick Foran wants to go and gets rejected because of his flat foot at first but soon makes it in and away they all go with Shemp Howard providing a bit of comedic relief. The plot essentially is all that and merely serves as a buffer to the many musical numbers performed by Foran, the Andrews Sisters and even Helen Forest. There is a little bit of ‘get the girl’ featured within as the romance angle is explored as much as possible to give the audience all the feels and overall, the film entertains which is a good thing.

The music, of course, takes up the brunt of the picture which can make or break a movie given how good they are but James and the rest of the cast are up to the task. The Andrews Sisters own about half of them and their harmonies are as good as ever though it would be nice to see a wartime musical without the Andrews Sisters making an appearance, at least once. Foran has a few songs to sing with the best of them being Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen which starts off with him at the piano before he is joined by what seems like the entire cast. It remains a great song to this day and is particularly moving during this number, especially during the chorus. If there are any faults to be had in this film, one will not find them in the music.

Making a brief appearance in this is a very young Donald O’Conner who gets a few seconds to shine, the smallest glimpse of what is to come in the years that are to follow. Altogether, while this might not be the musical or war film one will ever lay eyes on, Private Buckaroo makes for a good way to kill a bit of time and put a smile on the face.

3.5 out of 5

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