FRANCIS JOINS THE WACS (1954)
Article #1453 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-7-2005
Posting Date: 8-4-2005
Directed by Arthur Lubin
Featuring Donold O’Connor, Julie Adams, Chill Wills
Peter Stirling is called back into the armed forces, but is accidentally assigned to the WACS (which, if I’m not mistaken, stands for Women’s Army Corp). There he encounters Francis the talking mule once more, and enlists his help to get him out of his predicament.
Welcome back to the series that asks the cinematic question—just how many movies can you watch about a loquacious mule before the joke starts wearing thin? Actually, I though I answered that question when I reviewed FRANCIS GOES TO THE RACES, which merely repeated the obvious gags from the first movie. This was the fifth in the series and marks a return to the military setting. Of course, the twist is that he’s now in the women’s corp, and though this gimmick doesn’t necessarily raise the level of the humor, it does provide a bit of variety from the endless “I can’t believe that mule is talking” gags. Still, it does borrow quite a bit from the first film; not only is Zasu Pitts back in the same role, but we have a reiteration of the basket-weaving gag, only with finger-painting this time. Nonetheless, the movie does have at least one clever trick up its sleeve; by casting Chill Wills as a General as well as having him voice Francis, a new set of gags is set up revolving around the similarity of their voices. And fans of fifties starlets (especially of science fiction movies of the time) will be pleased to find that the movie also includes Julie Adams, Mamie Van Doren, Allison Hayes and Mara Corday, a circumstance which is quite likely to go a long ways towards alleviating the silliness of the movie. The most memorable gag involves Donold O’Connor’s inability to tell if one of the WACS is standing at attention or at ease.