Kilroy Was Here


1h 8m 1947

Brief Synopsis

Returning G. I. John J. Kilroy (Jackie Cooper), whose main ambition is to get a college education, finds himself one-half credit short for college entrance. Connie Harcourt (Wanda McKay) writes feature stories about him as "Kilroy,", the most talked about G. I. of the war, and is able to get him registered. Fraternity members grow dubious and attempt to make him withdraw from college.

Film Details

Release Date
Jul 19, 1947
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Dick Hyland-Sid Luft Productions, Inc.; Monogram Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Monogram Distributing Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 8m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

After serving three years in the South Pacific, Johnny J. Kilroy and his trouble-making best friend, Pappy Collins, are honorably discharged from the Army and return to their jobs as taxi cab mechanics. They are soon fired, however, following a fight with their foreman, which Johnny instigates. Johnny, who has long been plagued by jokes about "Kilroy," the fictitious American soldier, then finds out that Pappy has been withholding a letter addressed to him, informing him that he has been accepted at Benson College on the G.I. Bill. Johnny angrily breaks from Pappy, but forgives him just before he is to leave for college. Upon arriving in Bensonville, Johnny moves into a cheap boardinghouse and discovers that he has a roommate, fellow student Elmer Hatch. Johnny quickly makes friends with Professor Thomas Shepherd, the uncle of one of Johnny's deceased Army buddies, and agrees to become his "new" nephew. Pappy then shows up at the boardinghouse, having gotten a job in town as a car salesman, and immediately gets Johnny into trouble when he steals a car and suggests to the unsuspecting Johnny that he drive it to campus. Johnny offers co-ed Connie Harcourt a lift, but is soon stopped by a police officer and arrested. After a disgusted Connie leaves without learning Johnny's name, Johnny is stuck at the jailhouse until Professor Shepherd, who happens to own the stolen car, secures his release. Later, Johnny, who has long dreamed of attending Benson, finds out from the registrar that he is one-half credit short for entrance and cannot enroll. While Johnny argues with the registrar, Pappy, who has come to school to apologize to his friend, runs into Connie as she is leaving Dean Butler's office. Seeing an opportunity to reingratiate himself with Johnny, Pappy tells Connie, who runs Benson's public relations office and is the editor of the school paper, that Johnny is the "Kilroy" and would be a great source of publicity for the school. Having been entrusted with improving Benson's image, Connie convinces Dean Butler to allow Johnny to make up the half-credit and remain in college. Connie then runs a story about "Kilroy" in the school paper. Although she has promised Pappy to keep Johnny's identity a secret and not reveal any part of their scheme to him, another student, Jimmy White, overhears her talking about him and rushes to tell his fraternity brothers about it. To Johnny's delight, the exclusive Delta Omega fraternity votes to pledge him as a new member and allows him to live at their house for free. Later, while Johnny and Connie are on a date, a photographer from the Bensonville paper takes Johnny's picture and publishes it with the caption "Pretender to Throne." When Pappy shows him the photo and confesses his and Connie's ruse, Johnny denounces both of them. After a mob of students burns "Kilroy" in effigy, the snobbish members of Delta Omega, led by senior Rodney Meadows, try to force him out of the fraternity by overworking him. Johnny, who is oblivious to their disdain, proves a tireless worker, however, and meets their every challenge. Johnny then forgives Pappy, but is still at odds with Connie, who accuses him of lying about his war experience. When Rodney and the others discover that Johnny is friends with Pappy and several taxi drivers, they conspire to embarrass him into withdrawing by inviting the underdressed blue collar workers to their pledge dance and then publicly deny that they know the cabbies. Outraged by the fraternity's duplicity, Pappy slugs Rodney, and a brawl ensues. Johnny is suspended for his part in the fight and, disheartened, decides to leave school for good. Determined to keep Johnny at Benson, Connie, who has since learned that Pappy was responsible for the "Kilroy" story, Elmer and Pappy bring him to one of Professor Shepherd's lectures and encourage him to have a talk with his mentor. Unknown to Johnny, his conversation with the professor is being broadcast over the lecture hall's public address system, and when the students hear his heartfelt words, they burst into applause and beg him to stay. With his dignity restored, Johnny elects to remain at Benson.

Film Details

Release Date
Jul 19, 1947
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Dick Hyland-Sid Luft Productions, Inc.; Monogram Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Monogram Distributing Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 8m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The first appearance of the fictitious character "Kilroy" occurred in the United States in the early 1940s. During World War II, American soldiers immortalized the character by writing phrases like "Kilroy Was Here" and "Kilroy Slept Here" on walls and buildings around the world. Though the exact origins of "Kilroy" have never been determined, some historians claim that the character can be traced to an American named James J. Kilroy, who, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, became a steel inspector in Quincy, Massachusetts, and marked the equipment he tested with the words, "Kilroy was here." The phrase caught on at the steelyard and eventually spread overseas. The phrase was sometimes accompanied by a cartoon drawing. The drawing is seen many times in the picture.
       The G.I. Bill of Rights was a series of programs enacted by Congress in 1944 as a way to help returning soldiers reenter civilian life. The most-used benefit of the Bill was its educational program, which assisted veterans in continuing their education by paying tuition and other related costs as well as living expenses. Over 7.8 million World War II veterans took advantage of the Bill's educational benefits. In 1976, the existing program was terminated.
       In October 1946, Hollywood Reporter announced that the "newly teamed" Dick Irving Hyland and Sidney Luft would distribute their first production, Kilroy Was Here, through Screen Guild. In November 1946, Hollywood Reporter announced that Pat Patterson and Frank Roy Nicholson were to produce six "Kilroy" features for Astor Pictures, starting with Kilroy Was Here. The series was never made, however, and it is doubtful that Patterson and Nicholson contributed to this picture. Kilroy Was Here marked the first time that former child stars Jackie Cooper and Jackie Coogan appeared onscreen together. During the last scene, Coogan calls Cooper "Skippy," a reference to one of Cooper's best known child roles. Both actors served as flyers during World War II, as did Luft. According to a Los Angeles Times news item, Coogan and Luft came up with the film's story. Cooper participated in the film's profits, according to an April 1947 New York Times article. A Hollywood Reporter news item adds John O'Connor to the cast, but his appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.