Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mr. Winkle Goes to War

Tonight at 6:30 PM ET, TCM is showing the little-seen Mr. Winkle Goes to War, a movie that's well worth watching, if only to see yet another example of how underrated an actor Edward G. Robinson was.

Robinson stars as Mr. Winkle, a meek man with a humdrum life. His boss as the bank doesn't offer him any opportunity for advancement, while at home, Mrs. Winkle (Ruth Warrick) henpecks the poor man. What Mr. Winkle really wants is to go into business for himself as a sort of a repairman fixing motors and such, aided by a young friend of his from the local orphanage. Needless to say, everybody around Mr. Winkle but the boy thinks this is crazy.

World War II intervenes, as it had a way of doing in the films of the day. Mr. Winkle, despite being in his mid-40s, gets drafted to serve. More surprisingly, he makes it through basic training, and sees this as an opportunity: he wants to go off and fight, while his CO wants to give him a desk job that might fit Winkle better. Winkle, of course, having had a desk job for the last 20 years doesn't want it, and winds up fighting -- and becoming a hero. Winkle's return home as a hero suddenly changes the attitudes of everybody around him....

Mr. Winkle Goes to War is a little movie that's very much of its time, coming out in World War II. It's subtle propaganda about the war effort, while being a movie with a warm little heart. Edward G. Robinson is, as I said at the beginning, good in almost everything he did, including the movies that have largely been forgotten, like this one. This is, needless to say, the sort of film that hasn't gotten a DVD release, and isn't likely to unless somebody comes up with a box set of Robinson's films.

No comments: