At War with the Army

At War with the Army is a 1950 American musical comedy film directed by Hal Walker and starring the comedy team of Martin and Lewis and introducing Polly Bergen. It was filmed from July through August 1949, and released on December 30, 1950 by Paramount. It was re-released in 1958 by OMAT Pictures.

At War with the Army
1958 theatrical reissue poster
Directed byHal Walker
Produced byFred Finklehoffe
Written byFred Finklehoffe
Based onAt War With the Army (play)
by James Allardice
StarringDean Martin
Jerry Lewis
Mike Kellin
Jimmy Dundee
Polly Bergen
CinematographyStuart Thompson
Edited byPaul Weatherwax
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • December 30, 1950 (1950-12-30)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budgetless than $500,000[1]
Box office$3.35 million (US rentals)[2]
1,464,218 admissions (France)[3]

Although filmed before My Friend Irma Goes West (1950), it was held back until the sequel to Martin and Lewis' smash film debut My Friend Irma (1949) was released.


The film is set at a United States Army base in Kentucky at the end of 1944, during World War II.[4] The protagonists are First Sergeant Vic Puccinelli (Dean Martin) and Private First Class Alvin Korwin (Jerry Lewis), who were partners in a nightclub song-and-dance act before joining the Army.

Puccinelli wants to be transferred from his dull job to active duty overseas, but is refused transfer and is to be promoted to Warrant Officer. Korwin wants a pass to see his wife and new baby. In addition, they have to rehearse for the base talent show and avoid the wrath of Alvin's platoon sergeant, Sergeant McVey (Mike Kellin).

Along the way they both sing a few songs, and they do an impression of Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald by recreating a scene from Going My Way (1944) for the talent show. Further complications include a Post Exchange worker who is pregnant, a company commander who gets all his information from his wife, a scheming supply sergeant, and a defective Coca-Cola machine.



When Martin and Lewis signed their film contract with Paramount Pictures, they were allowed to make one film "outside" the studio per year through their own company, York Productions. This film was made under that provision, with the stars taking a small salary in exchange for 90 percent of the film's profits.

However, upon its release, Martin and Lewis ended up in a long, drawn-out legal battle. After several years, they relinquished all financial interest in this film in exchange for not having to make any more of these "outside" ones. The copyright on this film was not renewed in 1977, resulting in its public domain status.

The film is based on a play by James B. Allardice that ran for 151 performances from 1948-49 with Mike Kellin and Kenneth Forbes repeating their roles.[5]

The producers opened up the play by adding a sequence of an Absent Without Leave Lewis in drag fending off the amorous advances of his drunken platoon sergeant, a sequence on an obstacle course and the addition of several songs written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans.

One of the later Martin and Lewis films, Sailor Beware (1952) had a working title of At Sea with the Navy.[6]

This film's copyright was registered to York Pictures Corp. and Screen Associates, Inc. on January 23, 1951 (LP 679), and was renewed on December 7, 1979 (RE43009).[7] However, the film has since lapsed into the public domain as the copyright holders failed to renew their copyright in the 28th year of publication pursuant to the Copyright Act of 1909.

Home media

As this film is in the public domain, there have been at least a dozen DVD releases from a variety of companies comprising many different quality prints. In July 2014, Film Chest released a restored version in HD.[8]

See also


  • Hurst, Walter (1989). Film Superlist: Motion Pictures in the U.S. Public Domain (1950-1959). Hollywood Film Archive. ISBN 0-913616-29-X.


  1. "Boy Meets Girl in Monroe, N.Y., Starting Tomorrow - Home From Italy by A.H. WEILER". The New York Times. October 15, 1950. p. X5.
  2. 'The Top Box Office Hits of 1951', Variety, January 2, 1952
  3. Jerry Lewis films French box office information at Box Office Story
  4. The Broadway League. "At War With the Army | IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information". IBDB. Retrieved 2012-01-14.
  5. The Broadway League. "At War With the Army | IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information". Retrieved 2012-01-14.
  6. Billboard, August 4, 1951, p. 16
  7. Film Superlist: Motion Pictures in the U.S. Public Domain (1950 - 1959), p. 20
  8. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-09. Retrieved 2017-08-30.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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