When Lt. "Wild Bill" Traynor, bad boy of the Marine Corps, arrives at a San Diego Marine Base, he is surprised to discover he has been assigned to duty under his old rival, Captain Benton (...
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When Lt. "Wild Bill" Traynor, bad boy of the Marine Corps, arrives at a San Diego Marine Base, he is surprised to discover he has been assigned to duty under his old rival, Captain Benton (Conrad Nagel). While eluding the advances of Rosita (Armida), a Latin dancer, Bill becomes involved with Benton's fiancee, Dorothy Manning (Esther Ralston), whom he quickly wins and Benton accepts the impending marriage. On his wedding eve, Bill, in the company of Rosita, becomes involved in a fracas in a gambling joint in nearby Tia Juana. Rosita disappears and Dorothy calls off the wedding. As Dorthy sails for Latin America, Bill resigns in disgrace from the Marines, but re-enters as a Private. Ordered to duty in Ponta Miguel, Bill discovers that Dorothy's father (Hale Hamilton) is the governor. His old nemesis Benton has Bill sent to the guardhouse and Bill is vowing revenge when he is released, only to find that Benton is being held prisoner by a jungle bandit known as The Torch (George Regas.) ...Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
William Haines still peerlessly brilliant in his final film.
The first half of this low budget comedy/drama is terrific fast-paced fun. William Haines, looking splendid in his marine uniform, plays a wild playboy marine officer who just can't obey the rules. He drinks, he gambles, he womanises, and gets away with it all. Only William Haines could make such a role so utterly charming. He races through this film with great style and pizazz - stealing every scene he's in, except perhaps for those he shares with the Mexican fire-ball Armida. She plays a girl hopelessly in love with Haines who follows him all around the world. An hilarious little bundle of energy, she is one of the few actors who can match Haines in sheer exuberance.
Silent film veterans Esther Ralston, Edgar Kennedy and especially Conrad Nagel also lend strong support. Nagel's role is rather unrewarding though, and decidedly humourless.
Sadly the second half of the film gets bogged down into some totally unbelievable war action on a tropical isle, and loses its way. Haines was never very comfortable when he had to be serious on screen, and the hilarious hi-jinks of the first half of the film make a transition to action drama virtually impossible. Still the final scenes return to the comic mood of the first half, and the film is a satisfying, if minor, entertainment, that sadly closed the career of a unique and exciting screen personality. There has never been another star like William Haines, and I suspect there never will be. That Hollywood didn't look after this wonderful performer is a sad indictment of the studio system, and of homophobia.
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