23 1/2 Hours Leave


1h 12m 1937

Brief Synopsis

Army training Sgt. Gray makes a bet that he can get himself invited to breakfast with his commanding officer, General Markley. But he gets into an unhappy tangle with a couple of enemy spies (and a happy tangle with the general's daughter) before the bet is finally decided.

Film Details

Release Date
Mar 20, 1937
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Douglas MacLean Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Grand National Films, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "Twenty-three and a Half Hours' Leave" by Mary Roberts Rinehart in The Saturday Evening Post (24 Aug 1918).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 12m
Film Length
6,530ft (8 reels)

Synopsis

At an army cantonment in the U.S. in 1917, Sergeant Robert Gray, upon hearing reveille, blows a whistle to awaken the other sergeants before falling back asleep himself. At the home of General Markley, the general's daughter Peggy, who returned from school two days earlier, brings home a new car, which the general tells his subordinate Tommy, who is in love with Peggy, to return. After Bob is reprimanded for oversleeping, he offers his fellow officers, who have stolen all his wheat cakes, which they call "pattycakes," two-to-one odds that he will eat pattycakes at breakfast with the general within one month. Because of his reputation for winning outrageous bets, no one takes him on. Just after Bob decides that he should marry Mabel, a neighbor with whom he grew up, before shipping out overseas, he receives a wire that she got married to someone else. Although he is desolate, Bob does not mention the news to the others. After the men are granted twenty-three and a half hours' leave before they are to go overseas, the general receives a report that enemy agents in the vicinity have been obtaining information regarding troop embarkments. When Peggy offers Bob, who does not realize her identity, a ride into town, he brags that he is very close with the general. He picks up a tailor-made uniform to wear for a photograph to send to his mother and makes a date with Peggy the next morning, at the start of his leave, to take him to the photographer's. The next day, when the others razz Bob about Mabel's marriage, he starts a food fight, and a tomato thrown by Bob hits the general. After Bob is reprimanded, the others accept his bet about eating pattycakes with the general. When Bob's room is inspected, the captain confiscates his tailor-made uniform, which is against regulations. Tubbs, a dim-witted sergeant, is sent with all the food-stained uniforms to get new issues, but he loses the written order for them, and he is then arrested for walking around in his underwear. Bob escapes through a window and arrives at Peggy's car wearing a slicker over his underwear. He tells her that he is wearing the slicker to hide his tailor-made uniform. The photographer and his assistant, having deduced the soldiers' sailing date from the great demand for pictures, send a message to their spy headquarters. After Bob gets his picture taken, he meets Peggy in a cafe, where the other officers, also dressed in slickers over underwear, demand that he step outside. In an alley, they take his slicker. Bob sneaks into the photographer's office, and when they find him hiding, they pull a gun. Bob subdues them, but he is himself arrested. The next day, when the general learns that two enemy agents have been apprehended, he goes with Peggy to the jail and congratulates Bob. He invites Bob to breakfast and, having heard about Bob's bet, orders pattycakes. Upon their return to the base, the general relates the breakfast to the soldiers, who are dismayed at losing once more to Bob. After Peggy promises to write Bob every day, she drives off. Although Bob is arrested for being out of uniform and A.W.O.L, he happily offers to lay five-to-one odds that the general will come to his wedding.

Film Details

Release Date
Mar 20, 1937
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Douglas MacLean Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Grand National Films, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "Twenty-three and a Half Hours' Leave" by Mary Roberts Rinehart in The Saturday Evening Post (24 Aug 1918).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 12m
Film Length
6,530ft (8 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The print viewed did not include credits for the title, presenter, director, writers, songwriters, cast or companies. Producer Douglas MacLean starred in a 1919 film based on the same source, produced by Thomas H. Ince Productions, distributed by Famous Players-Lasky Corp, and directed by Henry King (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.4594). According to the pressbook in the copyright descriptions, after Ince died and his estate was disposed of by his wife, MacLean bought the screen rights to the film. According to news items, MacLean revived his former company in May 1936, and in August 1936, as work was progressing on the treatment, MacLean decided to make the story into a musical. MacLean made a search at the drama schools at a number of Western universities for an unknown for the male lead, and postponed production when he found no one suitable. Maurice Hill was originally announced for the lead, but MacLean borrowed James Ellison from Paramount after seeing a preview of The Plainsman. Hill was relegated to a featured role, according to a news item; it is possible that Morgan Hill, who received credit for the role of Tommy, is the same person as Maurice Hill. In February 1937, after looking at rushes, Grand National executive Edward L. Alperson raised the budget to allow five more shooting days, making the film Grand National's most expensive production to date. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, Dr. John Cantillon received a bonus from MacLean for keeping flu germs from the cast of sixteen principals so that none of them missed a day of shooting due to illness. According to the pressbook, this was Morgan Hill's screen debut and the first starring role for Terry Walker, who was loaned from Paramount. The pressbook also notes that after wardrobe man Waldron "Slats" Johnson found the faded hat that MacLean wore in the 1919 film, Ellison insisted on wearing it in this one.