FRANCIS GOES TO WEST POINT (1952)
Article 1855 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-13-2006
Posting Date: 9-10-2006
Directed by Arthur Lubin
Featuring Donald O’Connor, Lori Nelson, Alice Kelley
After saving a military plant from sabotage (with the help of Francis the talking mule), Peter Stirling is sent to West Point where it is believed he will be of help to the military. Francis also goes to West Point as a mascot and begins tutoring Stirling while giving tips to the coach of the football team. Hilarity ensues.
I think my main problem with the “Francis, the Talking Mule” series is that it got pretty lazy with its concept. Of the four I’ve seen so far, this is the third with a military setting, and I suspect that the reason the series kept going back to that milieu was so that it would be easier to recycle the same gags from the first movie in the series. The series was also pretty mild; given the wild premise of a talking mule, the movies remained almost aggressively tame, never really trying for big laughs but only for small chuckles. The movies didn’t stink, but they remained harmless and rather forgettable. Of more interest than the plot here is the list of supporting players, which included Gregg Palmer, Les Tremayne, David Janssen, James Best, Lori Nelson and Leonard Nimoy (he’s one of the football players). The best part of the movie is the beginning when the sabotage effort is foiled; the movie actually develops a little suspense and atmosphere at this point.