Movie Review: Tanks a Million (1941)

Synopsis: Dorian Doubleday is a railroad clerk who remembers everything he reads. After receiving his draft notice, he memorizes all the Army procedure manuals and his detailed knowledge results in him instantly being promoted to first sergeant. However, a group of unruly draftees, an eccentric colonel, and a jealous buck sergeant put his promotion in jeopardy.

Who's in it? The movie stars William Tracy, James Gleason, Joe Sawyer, Elyse Knox and Douglas Fowley.

Review: I came across this movie this morning and, while I wasn't really sure if I would enjoy it or not, I decided to give it a try. It turns out this film was a lot funnier than I was expecting.

At first, I thought the movie was just going to be about Doubleday (Tracy) using his photographic memory to earn the sergeant's spot, which honestly sounded like it might be a bit predictable and dull. However, watching him make the adjustment after earning his promotion turned out to be the thing to make this movie memorable.

I think the thing I liked best was how Doubleday managed to defy expectations on a number of occasions. When the men in his charge refused to listen to him, he found a creative way to punish them and make himself look like a genius in the process. When it looked like he would be stripped of his rank because of the same men screwing around under his charge, he used his knowledge of Army regulations to bail out both him and his soldiers. This, in turn, kept the movie from being as predictable as expected.

Probably the lone exception to that was the part about him accidentally impersonating an eccentric colonel (Gleason). Even though it seemed like something that potentially could get him court martialed, it also was kind of easy to figure out what would happen next. However, that being said, the entire thing still ended up being entertaining to watch, mostly because of Gleason's over-the-top performance.

My only real complaint is I wish the movie would have shown his girlfriend's (Knox) reaction to him not actually being a colonel. She was so proud of him and, since it would be difficult to keep up the charade since she was on the same base as him, it would have been interesting to see how he told her the truth (or if she found out on her own). While it wasn't anything that affected the overall plot, it did feel a bit like a loose end.

Final Opinion: I wasn't expecting much from this movie, but it turned out to be funny and entertaining. It's a great, short, film to watch if you are looking for a laugh.

My Grade: A


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