Cast & Crew
Toward the end of World War II, Tommy Noonan, a page at a radio station, receives his induction notice, but very shortly thereafter, the end of the war is announced. Tommy is still eager to serve and appeals to his draft board, which then phones Camp Clyde seeking advice. Sgt. Peter Marshall is in the process of shutting the camp down when he receives the request and passes it on until it reaches a general's office in the Pentagon, where two drunken janitors answer the phone and order that the camp be kept open to accommodate only Tommy. Peter is anxious to be demobilized so that he can marry his girl friend, a buxom starlet named Lili Marlene, on a radio program. However, Jerry Mann, Lili's manager, decides that she could gain more publicity if she were to become Tommy's "girl he left behind." When Tommy reports to Camp Clyde for basic training, he is not popular with the soldiers, who have been forced to remain to keep the camp open just for him. Jerry arrives at the base and makes a deal with Lt. Sumner, the public relations officer, ensuring exposure for Lili and establishing Tommy as "the last rookie." Jerry also assures Peter and Lili that after he has exhausted all the publicity angles with Tommy, they will be able to resume their romance. Tommy struggles through all the trials of basic training and one night, at the Service Club, having received a photo from Lili, dreams he is dancing with her. Suddenly, she is there in person, and he passes out. Meanwhile, Pentagon officials have discovered what is going on and attempt to close the camp, but are overruled by President Harry Truman, who insists that Tommy's training continue. Tommy is then assigned to undergo three weeks' battle training on bivouac in a replica of a German village. One day, Tommy is ordered to capture the German HQ, under actual battle conditions, unaware that it is booby-trapped. This happens to be the day a colonel, a general, a senator and a congressman have come to witness the training. Assuming that they are impersonating the enemy, Tommy throws a hand grenade at them and locks them in the building. Peter and the other soldiers are unable to stop Tommy before he runs a flag up a flagpole, which triggers an explosion inside the building from which the dignitaries emerge in tatters. Tommy is stationed in Japan and Peter, believing that he is finally going to be rid of Tommy, takes him to a bar intending to tell him about his relationship with Lili, but when orders come through that Peter is to accompany Tommy, he is arrested by military police and returned to the base. The next day finds them both on board a liner bound for Japan and Peter finally tells Tommy about the arrangement with Lili. When Tommy is invited to a cocktail party in the captain's cabin, he finds Lili and Jerry and tells Lili he knows all about the deception. However, Lili tells Tommy that she has fallen in love with him and wants to marry him, but when Tommy asks Peter to be his best man, Peter talks him out of going through with the marriage. Jerry then insists that Lili's fans want her to marry Tommy and fabricates a story insinuating that Tommy must marry her for moral reasons. As the ship's captain begins the wedding ceremony, however, Peter orders Tommy to participate in an "abandon ship" drill, and the ceremony is halted and the three principals find themselves adrift in a life raft. Eventually, they land on an island and build a hut and the rivalry over Lili continues. Meanwhile, a lost Japanese two-man submarine lands on the same island and the two sailors, unaware that the war is over, capture Tommy, Peter and Lili. However, the sailors are persuaded that they should be the captives, and after they are all picked up by a small boat, Tommy, Lili and Peter return to the U.S., honored with a ticker-tape parade and newspaper headlines announcing "Last Rookie Ends War ¿ Captures Two Enemy Submarine Sailors." Three years later, at a mansion in Beverly Hills, Tommy and Peter show up for a reunion with Lili, who has married Jerry and employs the two Japanese sailors as servants.
G. W. Berntsen
Harold E. Knox
Walter M. Scott
The working title of this film was The Last Rookie. The film contains caricatures of Harry Truman, Walter Winchell and Louella Parsons. In addition to themselves, Tommy Noonan and Peter Marshall portray two Japanese sailors in the film. Noonan and Marshall had previously worked together on stage as a comedy team, but broke up after Noonan was offered a motion picture studio contract. According to a November 1959 Beverly Hills Citizen news item, The Rookie was to be the first in a comedy series starring the duo, billed by studio publicity as the "new Abbott and Costello." Noonan and Marshall also appeared together in the 1962 film Swingin' Along.