A Nurse and an Enlistee
With his father at a loss what to do with him Chris Winters (John Payne) finds himself enlisting in the US Marines where he expects his father's old friend Sergeant Dixie Smith (Randolph Scott) will give him an easy run off it. Well Smith is not going to make life easy for Chris who having made a play for the attractive Mary (Maureen O'Hara) the night before he start discovers that she is a nurse and an officer which makes her off limits to those who enlisted. With his cockiness and ego causing him plenty of issues all Chris really wants is to leave despite having feelings for Mary but maybe events away from the base will make him wake up and realise his patriotic responsibility.
Before Steve Guttenberg was the cocky cadet at Police Academy and Richard Gere was the cocky young Navy brat at Navy Aviation Officer Candidate School there was probably a lot of other similar movies including "To the Shores of Tripoli" which starred John Payne as the cocky young trainee marine. But "To the Shores of Tripoli" was made in 1942, during the war and so whilst it has a similar style of entertainment to later movies which featured training in a service it was also a propaganda movie made to make every red blooded American feel that it was their duty to enlist and serve.
What that actually means is that we have the entertainment side of "To the Shores of Tripoli" with various escapades during training and a variety of comical characters. Most of this entertainment comes in the form of Chris trying to get away with various things including dating Mary who of course is off limits. The thing is that whilst fun it is nothing special and is only there to back up what Chris learns whilst going through training as whilst he is always up to one scheme or another and doesn't take things seriously he does get to understand what being a marine really means especially to those who find training hard work.
The thing is that "To the Shores of Tripoli" still works and that is down to the cast with John Payne not only delivering the cockiness of a charmer but also the comedy of being a charmer who comes a cropper a few times, including a mustard chest rub. In fact Payne often comes across like he is playing Chris Winters in a Cary Grant sort of way and it works. But then there is Maureen O'Hara who I hate to say it is one of those roles where she is cast because of her looks but still manages to make her mark by giving Mary some emotional depth. Plus there is Randolph Scott, not the immediate choice for a drill sergeant but he brings a pleasant amount of comedy to the role.
What this all boils down to is that whilst "To the Shores of Tripoli" isn't a great movie it will make those with a fondness for old cinema smile especially those who enjoy the movies of John Payne, Maureen O'Hara and Randolph Scott.