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SOUND OFF (director/writer: Richard Quine; cinematographer: Ellis W. Carter; editor: Charles Nelson; cast: Mickey Rooney (Mike Donnelly), Anne James (Lt. Coleen Rafferty), Sammy White (Joey Kirby), John Archer (Maj. Paul Whiteside), Gordon Jones (Sgt. Crockett), Wally Cassell (Tony Baccigalupi), Helen Ford (Mrs. Rafferty) ; Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jonie Taps; Columbia Pictures; 1952)
“It was about as much fun as going through boot camp.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Standard musical/comedy that never rocks and turns obnoxious when its lead character, army recruit nightclub entertainer, Mike Donnelly (Mickey Rooney), tries to handle his service duty by horsing around and romancing a WAC officer. Though fans of the diminutive actor might find Mickey’s brassy performance more appealing than I did, the pic is nevertheless artless. Richard Quine (“All Ashore”/”Operation Mad Ball”/”It Happened to Jane”) is the writer and director, who keeps things predictable and formulaic. None of the songs are memorable. They include the following: “Sound Off,” “Home Sweet Home in the Army,” “Blow Your Own Horn,” “Bugle Blues,” “It’s the Beast in Me” and “My Lady Love.”

Headline entertainer at Ciro’s nightclub in Hollywood, Mike Donnelly, gets drafted. Mike is known for being a gagster and loudmouth. In training camp he falls for attractive nurse Lt. Colleen Rafferty (Anne James), but his not too amused drill sergeant (Gordon Jones) gives him the business. Mike’s buddies wonder if the irrepressible comedian can ever adjust to army life, as he goes through the six week boot camp refusing to take any of the exercises seriously and always turning everything into a big joke.

When Mike gets a forty-eight hour pass, he surprisingly shows up at Colleen’s mother’s house in Glendale when he learns that’s where Colleen will be for the week-end. The pushy Mike talks mom Rafferty (Helen Ford) into letting him stay for the week-end in the guest room, which floors Colleen. Mike tries to make amends by taking her to Ciro’s, dragging along his manager, Joey Kirby (Sammy White).

The remainder of the flick has Mike changing his bad attitude about being drafted by serving a punishment without complaining and successfully wooing his Colleen, and as a reward for his good behavior he gets assigned overseas to a Special Service unit where he’ll be an entertainer and wins over his honey. It was about as much fun as going through boot camp.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”