Top Sergeant


1h 6m 1942

Brief Synopsis

An Army jeep is forced off the road by fleeing bandits. Sergeant Dick Manson (Don Terry), his kid brother Jack (Gene Garrick), and Corporals Frenchy Devereaux (Leo Carrillo) and Andy Jarrett (Andy Devine) follow and are joined by a posse of deputy sheriffs. Three of the robbers are killed in a shoot-out, but one of them, Al Bennett (Don Porter), escapes after wounding Jack, who dies. Bennett figures a perfect hideout would be in the Army, and becomes one of the recruits assigned to Manson. He gets into trouble because of his attitude, and particularly with Manson when he gets the Colonel's daughter, Helen (Elyse Knox), into covering up his A.W.O.L. G-Men reveal that some of the bank money has been passed at a local jewellery store. When Manson learns that Bennett has given Helen a gift trinket, he jumps at the clue, and drives her down to question the jeweler. They find him murdered. At the Army war games, Bennett blows up a bridge and several men are killed, and he diverts the blame upon Frenchy and Andy, who are court martialed for negligent homicide. Manson discovers a witness who identifies Bennett as one of the bank robbers.

Film Details

Also Known As
Showdown
Release Date
Jun 21, 1942
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 6m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
5,769ft

Synopsis

At Camp Amhurst, Company A, 18th Engineers, lead by Sgt. Dick "Rusty" Manson, is sent out on field maneuvers. When a series of mines fails to explode, Rusty is sent to find out what the problem is. Rather than listening for their orders, corporals Frenchy Devereaux and Andy Jarrett enjoy their detail listening to a football game. Back at headquarters, Rusty chastises his brother Jack for participating in the shenanigans of the older Frenchy and Andy. He also chastises Frenchy and Andy, who have been "busted" to privates for the eighth time, and warns them that, with the current world situation, it is their responsibility to train the new recruits for what may lie ahead. Later, while the platoon is in transport, it is run off the road by three gangsters who have just robbed the local Brownsville bank. Along with the police, Rusty, Frenchy and Andy manage to kill two of the thieves, but Jack is killed by the third when he disobeys his brother's orders and goes after the gangster alone. Rusty asks his commander, Col. Gray, for a leave of absence in order to find his brother's murderer, but the officer reminds the sergeant that he has a greater responsibility to the Army. The subject of a massive manhunt, Al Bennett, Jack's killer, enlists in the Army, and becomes one of Rusty's new recruits. He then receives an urgent telegram from his fellow gangster, Tony Gribaldi, and despite the recall of all passes, Al meets with Tony at MacDougall's Café. Tony tells of his plan to turn the small café into a nightclub, with Al acting as his partner and chief advertiser at the army camp. Helen Gray, the colonel's daughter, tries to sneak Al back into camp, but he is caught at the main gate by Rusty, which leads to a fight between Helen and the sergeant. With Al's help, the opening of the nightclub is a big success. Rusty tries to make Helen leave the nightclub, and when Al objects, the two soldiers start a barroom brawl. Rusty, Frenchy and Andy are disciplined for their actions, but after Helen confesses to her father that she was the cause of the fight, the three soldiers are fully reinstated. Later, a twenty dollar bill from the bank robbery is passed by an unknown soldier to Todd, a local jeweler. Al overhears Rusty tell Frenchy and Andy about the break in the case, so he murders the jeweler. Because Al had given Helen a piece of jewelry from Todd's store, Rusty accuses the private of the murders, but he has no proof to back his accusations. The company is then sent on two weeks of intensive maneuvers, during which Al intercepts a letter to Rusty from the Brownsville bank, stating that bank teller Ansel Jacobs can definitely identify the bank robbers. Using his explosives expertise, Al replaces the company's fake explosives, which Frenchy and Andy are to use to "blowup" a bridge which Rusty has been assigned to, with real dynamite. Rusty survives the explosion, but fifteen of the new recruits are killed. Frenchy and Andy are blamed for the incident, and they are brought before a court-martial hearing. They are freed when Jacobs appears at the hearing and identifies Al as one of the bank robbers. The killer escapes, however, when he jumps out the window and steals an Army truck and machine gun. The Army joins the civilian authorities in pursuit of Al, and use a fighter plane to track the fugitive's movements. Rusty, Frenchy and Andy corner Al, and while the corporals draw his fire, Rusty sneaks up behind him. The two men fight, with Al knocking Rusty out, but before Al can kill the sergeant, Frenchy shoots and kills the gangster. Because of his heroic actions, Rusty is offered officer's training school, but he refuses, as he wishes to continue service duty with his two friends.

Film Details

Also Known As
Showdown
Release Date
Jun 21, 1942
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 6m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
5,769ft

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was Showdown. According to Hollywood Reporter, the title change was made because Universal was afraid that audiences might think that the film was a gangster drama. The film opens with a short prologue by actor Andy Devine, in which he dedicates the film to the veterans of World War I who are now training the Army of the future. The film makes extensive use of actual military footage of American soldiers in training.