Willie and Joe Back at the Front


1h 27m 1952

Brief Synopsis

World War II is over; to get home quickly, GIs Willie and Joe (of cartoon fame) join the "inactive reserve." Just firmly settled back into civilian life, they're recalled for a new bout of basic training at a base in Japan. From then on, the boys are in and out of one scrape after another...topped by innocent involvement with glamorous Nida, a Eurasian Mata Hari, and her sinister friends.

Film Details

Also Known As
Back at the Front, Bill Mauldin's Willie and Joe Back at the Front
Release Date
Oct 1952
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Camp Drake,Japan; Tokyo,Japan; Tokyo--Mt. Fuji,Japan; Tokyo--The Imperial Palace,Japan
Screenplay Information
Based on characters created by William Henry Mauldin in his "Willie and Joe" cartoons published in Stars and Stripes , 1943--1945.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 27m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

At the end of World War II, reluctant soldier Joe convinces his pal Willie to sign up for the Inactive Reserve in order to obtain early discharges. When they are recalled to active duty only months later, however, Willie is furious. Within weeks of rejoining the service, Joe has a new plan to obtain discharges by faking injuries. After convincing the Army doctors that Willie has lost his hearing and Joe his eyesight, however, Joe insists that they join their old troop buddies for drinks that night. During their cavorting, they start a bar fight and are arrested, after which Col. Harkins tears up their discharges and sends them to Japan to repeat basic training. In Tokyo at Camp Drake, Sgt. Rose treats the wily veterans roughly, requiring them to lead their troop in various physical endurance tests. When the friends learn that they will soon be separated, they pretend not to care but are saddened. Joe then realizes that they can volunteer for the Quartermaster Corps in order to stay together, but when they do so, they are immediately assigned to be test subjects for a series of torturous equipment tryouts. After several grueling weeks on the job, they are finally rewarded with a one-week leave permit to Tokyo. Their uniforms, however, have become so filthy during their assignment that they cannot enter the city without being arrested by M.P.s. Knowing this, Joe nonetheless drags Willie onto a city-bound bus, and they spend their first afternoon in Tokyo running from the police. Eventually they steal an M.P. jeep and take it to the Emperor's palace. Spotted there, they narrowly escape when a Japanese woman named Nida ushers them into her limousine. Although Willie mistrusts her, Joe, an inveterate womanizer, is so taken by her beauty that he agrees to meet her later. She drops them off, suggesting that they visit a nearby club to clean up. When they go there, however, they find that the club is for officers only, so Joe pays the rickshaw driver to show them the back door. While they bathe, they are identified as enlisted men and disguise themselves as geishas to escape. Just as they are about to be trapped by the back door, the doorman hears them mention Nida's name and shows them a secret passage to a private room. There, they are greeted by Nida's friend, dapper American Johnny Redondo, who invites them to his home. They drink all evening, and when Johnny drops them off at the Servicemen's Club, they are promptly arrested for intoxication. Maj. Lester Ormsby, who remembers them from the fracas at the officers' club, sends them to Gen. Dixon to be disciplined. The general orders the pair locked up until he hears them mention Johnny, after which he drops all charges. After they leave, Dixon, who has been trying to arrest Johnny for smuggling explosives, orders his staff to follow Willie and Joe, who will unknowingly act as bait. Later that day, the freshly laundered soldiers are brought to Johnny's. The smuggler lies to Willie and Joe that his crab meat shipments have been repeatedly hijacked on their way to his private airport. When Nida suggests that only an Army truck could travel the roads without being hijacked, Willie and Joe volunteer to steal an Army truck and make the delivery for Johnny. The next day, Ormsby discovers them stealing a truck and arrests them, only to be severely reprimanded by Dixon and forced to release them. Dixon's men follow as Willie and Joe drive the truck, loaded with crates, to the airport, but when the soliders notice the police following them, they assume the car contains hijackers. After leading the police on a wild chase, they are pulled over by Ormsby, who recognizes them and, fearing retribution from Dixon, lets them go. Moments later, however, Dixon catches up to Ormsby and, upon hearing that he let the truck escape, demotes the major to sergeant. Meanwhile, Willie and Joe make it to the airport, where Johnny and Nida take off with the crates, hurriedly leaving some cans behind. Just then, the police arrive and inform Willie and Joe that Johnny is a smuggler. Furious, Willie hurls a can at the plane, and when it explodes, the plane is grounded. As the police arrest Johnny, Dixon promises to discharge Willie and Joe on the condition that they never return to Japan.

Cast

Tom Ewell

Willie

Harvey Lembeck

Joe

Mari Blanchard

Nida

Barry Kelley

Gen. Dixon

Vaughn Taylor

Maj. Lester Ormsby

Richard Long

Sgt. Rose

Russell Johnson

Johnny Redondo

Palmer Lee

Capt. White

Benson Fong

Rickshaw boy

Aram Katcher

Ben

George Wallace

M.P.

Duane Thorsen

M.P.

John Doucette

M.P.

Lane Bradford

M.P.

Mike Ragan

M.P.

Robert Dane

M.P.

Ted Jordan

M.P.

Corp. Sam J. Costadina

M.P. chasing Willie and Joe

Corp. Roy Prichard

M.P. chasing Willie and Joe

Aen-ling Chow

Sameko

Jimmy Shaw

M.P. corporal

Robert Bray

M.P. corporal

George Ramsey

Pete Wilson

Norman Evans

C.I.D. man

Larry Hudson

C.I.D. man

Gordon Wynne

C.I.D. man

Guy Williams

Captain

Claudette Thornton

Nurse

Ken Christy

Bartender

Paul Smith

Corporal

Bill Cassady

Corporal

Harris Brown

Dr. Jones

Robert Pike

Dr. Smith

Herbert Lytton

Lieutenant colonel

Van Des Autels

Lieutenant colonel

Freeman Lusk

Col. Harkins

Tyler Mcvey

Col. Daley

Roland Varno

Vishmirov

Ted Hecht

Fong Loo

Howard Chuman

Clerk

Archer Macdonald

Lieutenant in officers' club

Tom Carr

Lieutenant in officers' club

Howard Banks

Major

Dee Carroll

Night nurse

Mari Young

Japanese girl

Amy Ding Dong

Japanese girl

Rollin Moriyama

Scrub boy

Frank Iwanaga

Scrub boy

May Takasugi

Receptionist

Ray Barnes

Captain's orderly

Bob Wehling

Col. Smythe

Doug Carter

Col. Wembley

Hugh Prosser

Lieutenant General

Gayle Kellogg

Sergeant in motor pool

Jack Daly

Driver/mailman

Brick Sullivan

Policeman

Pat Combs

Young soldier

Chuck Courtney

Young solider

John Pickard

Dubbing

Mal Alberts

Warren Mace

Ed Rickard

Earl Brown

Ralph Brooks

Clyde Mcleod

Bud Cokes

S. Kawaguchi

Doug Henderson

Film Details

Also Known As
Back at the Front, Bill Mauldin's Willie and Joe Back at the Front
Release Date
Oct 1952
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Camp Drake,Japan; Tokyo,Japan; Tokyo--Mt. Fuji,Japan; Tokyo--The Imperial Palace,Japan
Screenplay Information
Based on characters created by William Henry Mauldin in his "Willie and Joe" cartoons published in Stars and Stripes , 1943--1945.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 27m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was Back to the Front. The title card reads: "Bill Mauldin's Willie and Joe Back at the Front." The film begins with a written foreword that reads: "The actual Japanese locales seen in this production were made possible through the cooperation of the Departments of Defense and Army and The Far East Command." Willie and Joe Back at the Front was a sequel to 1951's Up Front (see below for more information about Mauldin's cartoon series), which starred David Wayne as "Joe." No information has been found to explain why Harvey Lembeck replaced Wayne. Willie and Joe Back at the Front begins where the last ended, with the soldiers in Italy awaiting a discharge. Actor Vaughn Taylor reprised his role as the beleagured Military Police major.
       According to studio press information, Tokyo locations include the Imperial Palace and Mt. Fuji, and some scenes were shot on just outside Tokyo at Camp Drake. Hollywood Reporter news items add Chuck Horvath, Paul Baxley and Mark Scott to the cast, but their appearance in the final fim has not been confirmed. A May 1952 Hollywood Reporter news item states that actor Richard Long, who plays "Sgt. Rose," was stationed at an Army base in Tokyo when the production crew arrived, and was given a temporary leave of absense so he could return to Hollywood to shoot his scenes.