Watched an old Jerry Lewis movie called The Sad Sack from 1957 last night on Netflix. Pretty funny movie he did back in his heyday after he "broke up" with Dean Martin. The story centers on a "sad sack" (term used during and after WWII as a shortened version of "a sad sack of sh!t" - eg. worthless) soldier, Meredith Bixby, who is assigned to an Army Psychologist and a couple of malingering soldiers to turn into a useful fighting man for the Army. The film ends up with Bixby and his unit being sent to Morocco where he inadvertently saves the day and all ends up well.
It portrays the Army in what I like to call the "Khaki Days" or "Glory Days"...back when the Khaki service uniform was still in use (although I would of loved to wear the brown jackets like in WW2), we had won WW2, Korea was recently resolved in a "satisfactory" manner, Vietnam had still not even appeared on anyone's radar and the US Military was viewed as a massive, undaunted - if sometimes bureaucratic - machine of democracy. I also like the fact that the M1 Garand was still the general issue weapon of the film...there is even a cool part where the very unskilled Bixby tries to qualify with it...
Again, the movie all ends well with Bixby and his pals getting medals, but he once again goofs up and the film closes on him peeling a mountain of potatoes (see pic at the top of the post). this reminds me of another "sad sack" that this film may have been based on....Sergeant Manyard H. "Snuffy" Smith, Medal of Honor recipient, WWII.
"Snuffy" Smith was an enigma of WW2. Never a satisfactory soldier, he was largely loathed by his fellow soldiers both before and after he was awarded the medal for his lack of basic soldierly values and inability to try and work as a member of a team. Hell, he had even entered the Army when given the chance by a judge to "Go to war or go to jail"... literally. Despite this on May 1st, 1942 as a ball turret gunner on a B17 over Europe he performed feats of bravery that helped save the lives of fellow crewman on his plane as he fought both flames and Focke-Wulfs heroically after his aircraft suffered immense damage. Upon returning and being nominated for the MOH Smith did not try and correct his ways and was on KP on the day his medal was to be awarded for missing a mission due to a long night of drinking in a nearby town. Even after he was awarded the medal he was known in the "MOH community" as "that guy" that did not shy away from the attention it sometime brought but actually relished it and actually embellished his accomplishments the farther time took him away from them.
Oh well, it was a decent enough way to spend 90 minutes last night.