Nov 6, 2012

Military Comedy Beefcake: Ensign Pulver

I hate military dramas.  People dying in foxholes is not my idea of entertainment.  But military comedies, such as McHale's Navy and Hogan's Heroes, are ok.  No combat. Lots of semi-naked men lying around on their bunks.  And, in spite of some discussions of how horny the soldiers are, few women present amid the buddy-bonding plotlines.

Ensign Pulver (1964), a sort of sequel to Mister Roberts (1955), stars Robert Walker Jr. as an irreverent, sassy Navy ensign who is adept at breaking rules, impersonating senior officers, whatever needs to be done to get what he wants.  Usually "what he wants" means three things: getting out of work, finding black market booze, or meeting women.  But he does good deeds, too.  e gives an emergency appendectomy to the overbearing Captain (Burl Ives); and he talks the Captain into giving command to the less authoritarian LaSeur (Gerald S. O'Loughlin).

1. Semi-naked men lying around on their bunks: Larry Hagman (of Dallas), James Farentino, Jack Nicholson, Tommy Sands, and Robert Walker Jr. himself.

2. Lack of women.  There are women in bikinis on the poster, but none in the movie itself.  The only women present are a cadre of nurses whom Pulver tries unsuccessfully to impress.  No fade-out-kiss.

3. Buddy-bonding plotlines.  Pulver bonds with Bruno (former teen idol Tommy Sands), attempting to help him get a pass to he can go home to attend his young daughter's funeral, and when that falls through, counseling him as he becomes more and more despondent, restraining him when he tries to kill the captain. (Yes, this is a comedy.)