Written May-June 1941. Filmed July-August 1941. Produced by 20th Century Fox. Directed by Monty Banks. 74 minutes.
Cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Dick Nelson, Sheila Ryan, Edmund MacDonald.
STORY:Stan and Ollie enlist in the army to keep an eye on their somewhat sickly employer, Dan. Once there, they find army life to be somewhat less enjoyable than civilian life.
JB: Going from the Hal Roach features to GREAT GUNS is like watching THE WIZARD OF OZ in reverse - it's a journey from a beautiful fantasy world into one that's grey, dreary, dull and lifeless. Laurel and Hardy are no longer the driving force behind their stories, but are reduced to helping out some tedious male lead work out his petty problems, problems which no audience members in their right minds would possibly care about.
The plot of GREAT GUNS is obviously
patterned on Abbott and Costello's smash hit BUCK PRIVATES, from the
battles with the Sergeant to the rivalry for the girl right down to the
war games that end the picture. This would have been okay had the
comedy been on the same par. Abbott and Costello used BUCK PRIVATES as
an excuse to trot out some of their most memorable routines - the dice
game, "lend me fifty dollars" and the hilarious "Drill" bit where
Abbott puts Costello through basic maneuvers. Most of
the comedy in GREAT GUNS is second rate stuff, the
highlight being a repeat of the gag in The Finishing Touch where Stan
seems to be carrying both ends of a long plank of wood - and this gag
is repeated three times!
I know there are fans who find much to admire in GREAT GUNS, but for me, it ranks as one of the worst pictures Stan and Babe ever had their names linked to.
Say, Ollie, I don't think we're at Roach Studios any more.