Based on a 1934 story by prolific pulp author J.D. Newsom called The Rest Cure (which was also apparently the American name for the film), We're in the Legion Now stars the ubiquitous character actor Reginald Denny, sidekicked by veteran comedian Vince Barnett. In lighthearted fashion, they play Dan Linton and Spike Conover (Isadore Simonski in the original story), two former New York racketeers on the run from a former "business associate"; apparently this mobster, Al Perelli, had a penchant for murder and kidnappings, and our decent duo wanted no part of that sort of thing. The guys were basically just good guys looking to get fashionably intoxicated during the prohibition, in the process got mixed up with the wrong crowd. Having had enough, they escape to France, where they begin to freely imbibe on an epic scale.
During their liquor-fueled fun, they find out that Al Perelli has come after them, which gets them to reconsider their options. During a public drinking session they meet two English sisters, one of whom is married to a British officer in the French Foreign Legion. The guys express a desire to move on to greener pastures, and the gals suggest Morocco...but the catch is, they would have to join up for a five-year stint in the Legion! Not their first choice, of course, but fate steps in, Al Perelli shows up (with a Tommy-gun in a violin case), and the boys set off for Morocco as Legionnaires! There they encounter wild Arabs, beautiful ladies, brutal hardships, and mutiny!
It's great fun from beginning to end.
I really loved the cast. I've always enjoyed Reginald Denny; in spite of his being cast as a token Brit, he always delivers the goods with class and style (If you get a chance, see him in the classic Canadian Mountie movie Fort Vengeance). I was a bit confused by his character in this movie though, as he was ostensibly an American, but his accent vacillated between his usual classic British r.p. clip and a gobbly American-ish drawl. Otherwise he was completely charming and appropriately stalwart. Denny's sidekick, played by comedic character actor Vince Barnett, was as hilarious as a wisecracking, bottle-tossing, Brooklyn drunkard should be. He was apparently best known from the Andy Griffith Show and it's spinoff, Mayberry R. F. D.. Eleanor Hunt, as the stunning American Expat songstress Honey Evans, sizzles on an entirely new level from her role in Go-Get-'Em Haines...the gams alone definitely made the search worthwhile!
From the cultural perspective, while I don't generally judge these low-budget action frolics by their accuracy, it's worth noting that the bit of the Islamic call to prayer was accurate, and the music was also at least actual Arabic music, with an Oud being played correctly (as opposed to a Hollywood orchestra playing faux-Arabic slop), and what sounded like a Raita, which is a type of shawm. From there things go fairly wonky; badly imitated Arabic writing on the walls (for local flavour, I assume, but there were letters from Persian that aren't found in the Arabic script), women in Hejab wearing pantaloons, and one surreal scene in which a Berber drum & hand-clapping music party was overlaid with the Arabic Oud from the earlier scene, along with the end-blown Nai flute...a mix that would never happen. Oh well, a little is better than nothing, wot? In any case, one has to set aside quite a bit in these Imperialist-type pictures (westerns, British Empire, Foreign Legion, etc.), and the fun generally makes the hits on one's pedantry worthwhile!
I thoroughly recommend We're in the Legion Now; it's top-flight b-reel action, with a rakish edge and a cheery demeanor. Any weekend afternoon would be perfect for it; it's completely entertaining!
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