Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Best Foot Forward (Eddie Buzzell, 1943)

Military academy movies are homoerotic enough. Fuse one with the musical's propensity for turning bodies into decorative elements and you have a Vesuvius of male objectification. In MGM's Best Foot Forward, Lucille Ball, playing herself, winds up at a military academy teeming with horny boys. But well before they literally tear her clothes off in one scene, the young men of fictional Winsocki find their own bodies subjected to hazing and awkward ornamental choreography.
My favorite scene has a row of cadets singing one line each of "Wish I May Wish I Might" into one another's eyes:
Wish I had an old jalop job

Just a little olden top job

Wish I had myself a C card

That would suit me to a T, pard

I could take my drag a-drivin'/And I would get the wish I wish tonight

And the cadets are always touching each other in that guileless, pre-Stonewall way.
So much so that the ├╝ber-catchy "Three Men on a Date" doubles as a song about three men on a date with each other.
Other selling points:
Rubber-faced Kenny Bowers (on the left in the pic above) still playing to the nosebleed seats
A frothy score by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane
Nancy Walker butching things up in a spirited but arch performance
Several hot numbers from Harry James and His Music Makers

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