Marching On (film #20 in the Black Culture section of Movieflix). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

There is something oddly touching about this wartime film made for African-American audiences. This is one of the least stereotyped films of this type that I’ve seen so far, so that plays into it. It’s sort of an African-American version of This Is the Army, featuring a draftee that has a bad attitude towards the army until he has some unusual experiences when he attempts to desert. The film was obviously cheaply made and there are some excruciating moments of bad acting, bad dialogue, and overly-convenient plot contrivances. But still, unlike many African-American movies of its time, most of the characters seem like real people, rather than racist stereotypes. The patriotism is heavy-handed and thick, but the fact that African-Americans were not treated very well by the country they were supposed to love and defend gives the patriotism a poignancy that is hard to escape. And the film gives you a feel for what it must have been like to be black and in the army during World War II. The whole thing is interrupted in the middle by the obligatory nightclub floor show, which seems particularly arbitrary here, as well as taking up a huge amount of screen time. But, like most of these types of interludes, it’s lively and fairly fun to watch. Overall, this is one of the most interesting and touching of the made-for-black-audiences films I’ve seen.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.

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