Four Jills in a Jeep (1944) - Rotten Tomatoes

Four Jills in a Jeep (1944)

Four Jills in a Jeep

TOMATOMETER

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Four Jills in a Jeep is the (mostly) true story of a four-girl USO team, entertaining American troops overseas. Kay Francis, Martha Raye, Carole Landis and Mitzi Mayfair play "themselves," recreating their recent whirlwind tour of Europe and North Africa. This wisp of a plot takes a back seat to the musical numbers performed by the four stars, by Dick Haymes in his screen debut as a singing GI, and by guest stars Alice Faye, Betty Grable and Carmen Miranda. Phil Silvers, George Jessel, and Jimmy Dorsey and his orchestra also pop up to do their usual. Very much a time capsule of the War years, Four Jills in a Jeep was later adapted into a best-selling book, ostensibly written by costar Carole Landis.more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Romance, Musical & Performing Arts, Classics, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Robert Ellis, Helen Logan, Snag Werris
In Theaters:
On DVD: Oct 7, 2008
Runtime:
Twentieth Century Fox

Cast

Kay Francis
as Herself
Martha Raye
as Herself
John Harvey
as Ted Warren
Dick Haymes
as Lt. Dick Ryan
Alice Faye
as Guest Star
Betty Grable
as Guest Star
Carmen Miranda
as Guest Star
George Jessel
as Master of Ceremonies
Glenn Langan
as Capt. Stewart
Lester Matthews
as Capt. Lloyd
Miles Mander
as Col. Hartley
Frank Wilcox
as Officer
Paul Harvey
as General
Mary Servoss
as Nurse Captain
Dave Willock
as Soldier
Martin Black
as Soldier
B.S. Pully
as Soldier
Mike Kilian
as Soldier
Renee Carson
as French Maid
Kirk Alyn
as Pilot
Winifred Harris
as Lady Carlton Smith
Edith Evanson
as Swedish Maid
Crauford Kent
as British Officer
Frances Morris
as Surgical Nurse
Lester Dorr
as Soldier
Ted Warren
as John Harvey
Ralph Byrd
as Sergeant
Gordon Wynne
as Soldier
David Essex
as Navigator
David Essex
as Navigator
Jimmy Dorsey
as Themselves
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Four Jills in a Jeep

Critic Reviews for Four Jills in a Jeep

All Critics (3) | Top Critics (2)

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 12, 2001
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

While it's an overly-cleaned-up reworking of the truth, Jills is also fine entertainment... A lovely testament to the hard work of the USO.

Full Review… | November 13, 2008
DVDTalk.com

Audience Reviews for Four Jills in a Jeep

½

Martha Raye Is Funny, At Least

Before World War II, there wasn't much the entertainment industry could do for the military. It was challenging to get people to the front, and much before World War I, there weren't a lot of celebrities; there was no reason for any given individual to do a tour of the Civil War battlefields, because most of the troops wouldn't have recognized whoever-it-was anyway. However, yes, World War II was the first war to happen after true modern celebrity culture began. Oh, I'm not sure every US soldier in England or North Africa recognized, say, Martha Raye--and I'll guarantee most of them couldn't recognize Mitzi Mayfair--but they still recognized, say, Bob Hope. Carole Lombard met her death on that plane because she had sold so many war bonds that a group of soldiers agreed that she had honorary rank and gave her their seats. For that first war in the celebrity era, you got celebrities doing their bit by showing their faces.

Here, it starts with Martha Raye bragging. "Sure," she says, "we'd love to go to England and entertain the troops, if the military lets us." It's really intended to be the silly sort of patriotic nonsense that people spout, empty promises. However, Kay Francis is putting together a tour group to perform at the camps in the UK, and she's looking for headliners. So she takes Raye, hoofer Mitzi Mayfair, and singer Carole Landis. In the UK, they are assigned Sergeant Eddie Hart (Phil Silvers) as their guide, driver, and whatever else they need him to be. Their first full day there, Carole meets Ted Warren (John Harvey), a pilot, and she falls in love. Mitzi, meanwhile, used to work with Lieutenant Dick Ryan (Dick Haymes), before he was drafted. Naturally, they happen to run into each other that same morning. The four women do their shows, are wooed by their men, and generally have adventures and build morale. And then Martha Raye mentions they'd go to North Africa if they could . . . .

The woman actually did do the tour which appears in the movie, at least approximately. Carole Landis even actually met, fell in love with, and eventually married a soldier. What's more, Martha Raye spent much of her life touring and in fact was an honorary Green Beret for the performances she did in Vietnam. The movie includes a title card at the end encouraging us to buy war bonds, another thing a lot of stars worked on during the war. As I said, it's what killed Carole Lombard. Cary Grant was denied permission to enlist in the British military because he was contributing so much money to causes surrounding the war effort. Now, I don't think anyone should blindly accept the military's word for things, and I don't believe we should blindly accept whatever justification for war we're given. However, there are to this day plenty of people opposed to the war who are still willing to go overseas, into danger, and entertain the troops--who after all didn't ask to be there.

And I bet a lot of their stories would be more interesting than this was. Martha Raye gets the funniest line in the movie, which I will tell you now so you don't bother with the movie. A military officer is lecturing them in North Africa, where they've inadvertently ended up a little closer to combat than they'd like, and he says that they won't accomplish much or be very entertaining with their heads blown away. Martha Raye says it's obvious he's never been to Hollywood. Mostly, though, it's so-so musical numbers and a tired, cliché script. Mitzi Mayfair had only done a few shorts, and she married a studio exec not long after the movie's release and never acted again. However, I'm not sure how much she can be said to have acted here. Kay Francis made a lot of movies, but this was one of her last. Carole Landis was a troubled young woman, and she committed suicide four years later. She, Kay Francis, and Martha Raye are doing their best, but there isn't much to work with.

I've been doing a lot of research into World War II for a book I'm writing, and there's a whole other book to be had from what I'm discovering about the USO. It wasn't all whimsical hijinks. After all, Captain Glenn Miller died the year this movie came out. Even in this otherwise lighthearted movie, the women are shown spending exhausting hours working in an understaffed field hospital Somewhere in Africa. No one they care about personally dies, and in fact I'm not sure any character with a name dies, but it's quite clear that there are people dying. Kay Francis says the boys in the hospital aren't whining, which isn't strictly true, but there's a nobility to our image of World War II that I'm not sure any other war in history holds. Yes, there were some pretty shameful things, too; that book I'm writing gets more about the Japanese-American internment with every chapter. (And, you know, there's the Holocaust!) However, there were also moments where people put themselves in danger they didn't need to face just to give the people fighting a good time. It's a very human thing.

gillianren
Edith Nelson

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