Published on February 1st, 2008 | by Chris0
Mr. Winkle Goes to War (1944)
Mr. Winkle Goes to War is a buried treasure, a hidden, overlooked gem. I can't even explain how great and wonderful I found this picture... Well, I guess I need to try anyway!
Mr. Wille Winkle (Edward G. Robinson) is a 40-something, mild mannered, somewhat timid fellow who's fed up with his long-held but ultimately dull bank job. He volunteers his time down at the boys' home, most notably with a lad named Barry. His home life leaves something to be desired. Basically, he's a tamer, 1940's version of Al Bundy.
However, Winkle decides to take matters into his own hands, and quits his bank job to start his own handyman business, much to the surprise and chastisement of his boss, his brother-in-law co-worker, and his wife. This doesn't matter to him, though, as his mind is made up.
Just as he's all set to get his new life underway, Uncle Sam has other plans for him, and he's drafted into the army. Due to his age he thinks nothing of it, that he'll be dismissed and sent home, and leaves a "Be Right Back" sign hanging on his shop door.
But he doesn't get sent home, and in fact gets sent off to basic, and after almost winding up behind a desk, which doesn't suit him at all, he finds a higher purpose and meaning there in the army. I guess you could say this was just what he needed. In fact he chooses this life when he's given a chance to go home.
He manages to get into the motor pool, and finally gets shipped off to the South Pacific somewhere. While there, he single-handedly takes out a squad of Japanese soldiers with a front-end loader he'd been charged with repairing. He returns home a war hero, but timidly denies the title to return to his shop.
I have to say, I'd always thought of Robinson (along with Cagney) as the stereo-typical mob gangster types. The guy with the tipped fedora, flipping the coin with a cigar dangling from his mouth. Not so here, as he expertly portrays the shy, timid, somewhat unworldly man beaten down by life. His presentation was just amazing.
The movie is just plain funny as well. Scenes with Sgt. "Alphabet" in the USO stand out, as dreadfully funny, but Robinson still manages to keep a certain quiet dignity and class to Winkle throughout.
Really, though, the movie is about everyone who's ever been in his situation. Is it just another "Uncle Sam Wants YOU!" propaganda flick of the 40's? Eh, maybe. But its a damn good one. Everyone stuck in a job they hate, with problems at home, and dreams unfulfilled... Mr. Winkle is that guy, and he pulls off what only a few of us hope to. To finally make something of himself. You've also got to respect the sentiment when he denies his "hero" status, saying the real heroes are still out there on those islands.... Great stuff all around.
Mr. Winkle Goes to War is yet another one of those great pictures I never would have seen had I not been writing for this site. I probably would have overlooked it as just another "old movie" and not given it a second glance. If you can catch it, by all means, DO!
Mr. Winkle Goes to War [VHS]
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The year is 1942: Mr. Winkle (Edward G. Robinson), a mild-mannered bank clerk, decides to quit his job and open a fix-it shop in his garage. Winkle's wife Amy (Ruth Warrick) disapproves of this, and orders her husband to move into his little shop...
Summary: Mr. Winkle Goes to War is yet another one of those great pictures I never would have seen had I not been writing for this site. I probably would have overlooked it as just another "old movie" and not given it a second glance. If you can catch it, by all means, DO!