Thursday, December 17, 2015

Nazi Spies, Secret Rockets and a Horse Race

Read/Watch 'em in Order #63

Private Snuffy Smith was a hit-and-miss movie in that many B-movie fans will find it pretty funny (I did) and many other B-movie fans will think it falls flat. It's a major controversy, you know. Many classic movie conventions have degenerated into riots and chaos over this issue.

But the sequel--Hillbilly Blitzkrieg (also released in 1942)--is the movie that brings us all back together again. Because we can all definitely agree that this one does fall flat.

Oh, not completely. There are a few funny moments (most delivered by Edgar Kennedy) and Cliff Nazarro is really good as Barney Google.

Snuffy is still in the army and Kennedy is still his long-suffering sergeant. For some reason the
sergeant's name has been changed from Cooper to Gatling, even though its clear that he is supposed to be the same character. The two (along with a few other soldiers) are sent to guard a scientist who is working on a radio-controlled rocket.

The scientist is set up in a barn out in the middle of nowhere. It turns out Snuffy's city-slicker cousin Barney Google has bought an interest in the rocket. But they need $500 to buy the parts they need to finish buying the thing. (The government is interested in testing the new weapon, but apparently uninterested in coughing up $500 to finish building it? Gee whiz, and we think Congress today is incompetent!)

The need to raise the money leads to a race involving Barney's famous horse Spark Plug, which also gives Nazi spies an opportunity to try to steal the plans of the rocket and sabotage the prototype. This, in turn, leads to shenanigans in which (at one point) a spy mistakes plans for a moonshine still for the rocket plans.

Everything comes to a head when the rocket is accidentally launched while Snuffy is hiding inside it.

As I said, Edgar Kennedy manages to milk some laughs out of his scenes. Nazarro does give Barney a slick con-artist air, though the script doesn't give him enough punch lines to do this justice. Bud Duncan is still the living personification of Snuffy.

But Sarah Padden as Lowizie is sorely missed, while the two big scenes (the horse race and Snuffy's unplanned rocket ride) simply fail to be funny. Them danged varmints at Monogram studios had a bit too much moonshine before makin' this 'un.

That's it for Snuffy's movie career. I'm writing this in mid-October, about two months before it will post. Right now, I'm not sure what's next in the In Order series as far as movies are concerned, but I'll decide on something soon.

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