America may have been perched on the doorstep of war, but there is nothing but hilarity to be found in this military comedy film release from the late summer of 1941. Tanks a Million stars William Tracy as Dodo Doubleday, a character who was sort of the anti-Gomer Pyle of his time. Blessed with a photographic memory, Doubleday learns just about every Army regulation there is, down to the page number and paragraph, when he finds out he has been drafted. He's not shy about sharing his knowledge with his fellow draftees or with his sergeant, so you can imagine just how popular Doubleday is with his men. The brass are impressed with him, though, and before you can say Black Jack Pershing, Doubleday's wearing sergeant's stripes and given command over his squad of new recruits. The guys don't particularly care for the situation, nor does the increasingly exasperated sergeant whom he displaces, and they express their displeasure by following orders as literally as possible. Noah Beery, Jr., as Charlie, is particularly adept at schemes designed to get the young sergeant's goat. Doubleday perseveres somehow, though, and every time Sergeant Ames (Joe Sawyer) thinks he has Doubleday right where he wants him, he is quite visibly disappointed.
Tanks a Million has a running time of just 50 minutes, but this is a continuously hilarious film. It was brought to life by Hal Roach, the man who brought the world Our Gang, and there is one scene inspired by one of the funniest Our Gang's shorts - watching men get thrown into the air is funny, but it's even funnier when those men are band members who continue playing their instruments as it happens). Tanks a Million was actually the first of Hal Roach's "streamliner" films, four-reelers too long to be called shorts and too short to be feature films. The film is just as funny today as it must have been upon its release.