Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Where Do We Go From Here?

A few weeks ago, FXM Retro showed a movie that was completely new to me, to the point that I had never even heard of it: Where Do We Go From Here? It's on FXM Retro again tomorrow morning at 7:40 AM, and is certainly worth at least one viewing.

Fred MacMurray plays Bill, a man who wants to fight for his country in World War II, but can't because the government has declared him 4F. It's an unhappy situation for him, especially considering that the woman he's got his eye on, Sally (Joan Leslie) sings fot the troops at the local USO place and really prefers a man in uniform. Meanwhile, Lucilla (June Haver) has her eye on Bill. Not being able to fight, Bill does his service in the best way he can, which is dealing in scrap metal that will be recycled to go to military uses. After spending a fruitless night with Sally, Bill goes back to the scrap yard, which is where his life is about to change.

A woman comes and gives him a bunch of stuff that's been sitting in her attic, including an item that looks a lot like an Aladdin's lamp prop. Not only does it look like an Aladdin's lamp, it sounds like there's something inside, just begging to be let out! So Bill rubs the lamp, and sure enough, there's a genie inside (Gene Sheldon). As genies are wont to do, this one offers Bill a wish. Bill, as you can probably guess, wants to serve, so he wishes he can be in the army. The genie grants that wish, but....

Unfortunately for Bill, the genie is a bit out of practice. Like that Geico commercial where the guy wishes for a thousand bucks and gets a thousand male deer in his yard, Bill's wish to be in the army does get fulfilled, but not in the way he had hoped. Instead, the genie has put Bill in George Washington's army at Valley Forge, with the Hessians about to cross the Delaware River at Trenton. Bill knows his American history, so he knows that he can be of service to General Washington as a spy. This gets Bill sent to Trenton, where sadly he gets caught and put before a firing squad. Ah, but there's that genie! Bill wishes he could be in the navy, and once again, the genie grants that wish....

This time, it's by puting Bill in the service of Christopher Columbus (Fortunio Bonanova). It once again goes without saying that this is not what Bill had in mind, and certainly, it's not going to work out either. Bill winds up adrift on the ocean, going to Manhattan Island and the early 1600s, where he gets involved in a fraudulent land scheme with Indian chief Anthony Quinn to buy the island amd then has to prove that he really does own the island in order to get the girl.

Where Do We Go From Here? is a musical fantasy with a large dollop of comic elements. At times, it doesn't quite mesh together, which I think has mostly to do with the fact that Fred MacMurray was not an actor suited for musicals. The story itself isn't bad, although how much you'll like it will probably depend upon your views of the type of humor used in the historical vignettes, which is reminiscent of the parodies that Mel Brooks or the Zucker brothers would do decades later. At times it comes across as dumb; but then there are scenes which are surprisingly funny. It's all done with good intentions, so even when the humor doesn't hit it's still inoffensive.

I don't believe Where Do We Go From Here? is available on DVD, so you'll have to catch the rare FXM showing.

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