Great Guns (1941)

49% – Critics
49% – Audience

Great Guns Storyline

Laurel and Hardy work for sickly heir Dan Forrester, who has been diagnosed with a myriad of debilitating allergies. However, when the draft board sees things differently and he seems very happy to leave the confines of his sick room, his loyal employees join him in the U. S. Army. He seems to thrive on Army chow and regimen and even becomes a rival to the growling Sergeant Hippo for the affections of beautiful post employee Ginger Hammond . The bumbling Stan and Ollie also get a chance to redeem themselves when they participate in the all-important war game maneuvers.—Gabe Taverney (

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Great Guns Movie Reviews

“You don’t think they declared war without us, do you?”

As a kid growing up in the Fifties, I managed to see a whole bunch of Laurel and Hardy shorts, and a few of their feature films as well. I don’t recall “Great Guns” among them, and I wonder now if it’s because I didn’t actually see it, or because it’s just not that funny. I usually learn more about a picture than I knew before by reading the reviews here on the IMDb site, and in this case, the posters for this film have done a much better job than I can possibly do to sum up the inadequacies of this flick. Made in some degree to capitalize on the success of the era’s other comedy kingpin duo, Abbott and Costello, this film falls somewhat short of the same year’s “Buck Privates”. That picture showcased patriotism as a cherished ideal, and utilized a barrage of elements to keep movie goers clamoring for more, not the least of which included the Andrews Sisters performing the classic ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’. By comparison, this picture falls measurably flat, most likely as suggested by others on this forum, that the stars lost considerable creative control by signing on with Fox.

Not that the film is a total dud, but the charisma that Laurel and Hardy developed earlier in their careers just isn’t on display here. As I mentioned in another review (“Tit For Tat”), I delight now in seeing how L&H did things funny, as opposed to doing funny things. The one bit that comes close to passing muster here is the ‘raven in the pants’ scene, but even that one seems a bit overdone and forced, without the nuance of the cookie routine in “Tit For Tat”. As well, I kept waiting for one of Stan’s brilliant but nonsensical affirmations (‘He who filters your good name steals trash’), but there just weren’t any.

Still, for fans of the boys, there’s enough here to recommend at least a single viewing, even if they’re not at the top of their game. In that respect, every great actor and comedy team is entitled to an eventual mis-step. The good thing about Laurel and Hardy is that their sub-par work often beats the competition anyway.

Quite good for Laurel & Hardy ’40’s standards.

It’s a fact that Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy did their best works for the MGM studios. Their later works for the Twentieth Century-Fox studios aren’t exactly the most classic ones around. This is one of those typical Twentieth Century-Fox Laurel & Hardy pictures, that in style and humor quite differs from their early work but still has its certain charm and entertainment value, although the movie is far from an hilarious or great one.

Once again Laurel & Hardy are in the army. This time the movie focuses on their mishaps in boot-camp. Laurel & Hardy don’t really get to show the best of their qualities in this movie but the provide the movie with a couple of entertaining moments nevertheless. There are a couple of sequences that are still are of comical greatness, such as the scene in which the boys ride in a jeep during a combat exercise but like often was the case in their later movies, there are more misses than hits with its humor. The movie isn’t consistently funny but yet it always remains perfectly entertaining to watch, although I would definitely had prefer some more slapstick from the two boys.

Reason why this movie still works out quite well, is due to its well written story. It makes the movie flow well and also is the reason why this movie is such a perfectly entertaining one. It makes the movie consistent and provides it with some good comical moments and dialog.

The love-story of the movie, between the Sheila Ryan and Dick Nelson characters, is quite enjoyable and not as distracting as often had been the case in other Laurel & Hardy pictures

The movie is a great looking one with good costumes and sets. It’s obvious that they spend quite some money on this movie. The movie ends with quite a big battle sequences that is well fitted into the movie and makes sure that the movie ends with a blast.

Might not be so hilarious be very entertaining nevertheless.


Surprisingly watchable

The 1940s were not kind to Laurel and Hardy. First, they looked very old–time had not been very kind to them, especially Stan Laurel. Second, Ollie now weighed in at about 350 pounds and simply was too rotund to do all the physical humor the duo had done in the 1930s. And finally, after SAPS AT SEA (1940), the team unwisely left Hal Roach Studio–making films for RKO, Fox and other studios that seemed to have no idea what to do with them. Overall, these movies are dreadful–terribly unfunny and sad for most Laurel and Hardy fans to watch.

Perhaps among the best of these poor films was GREAT GUNS. While the film wasn’t particularly funny, it also was reasonably diverting and at least the team didn’t embarrass themselves. However, at the onset, the film has one major strike against it. Like almost all of these 40s films, Stan and Ollie are NOT the whole show, so to speak. Instead, they are most supporting characters–something they almost never did in their earlier films. In DANCE MASTERS (1943), Stan and Ollie help out a guy and girl who are in love but whose parents don’t approve, in NOTHING BUT TROUBLE (1944), they help out young prince and here in GREAT GUNS, they follow a guy into the cavalry who supposedly is too sickly to serve. It seems that in the 40s, Stan and Ollie now are no longer comedians, but social workers of sorts!

At the onset, you must completely suspend disbelief to watch this film. After all, the boys are both about 50 and Ollie must weigh as much as a tank. No army is THAT desperate for men! However, despite the improbability of the plot and that the team are more supporting players, GREAT GUNS has a few pluses. Stan and Ollie’s war film isn’t great but compares reasonably well to other contemporary films such as BUCK PRIVATES, CAUGHT IN THE DRAFT and MR. WINKLE GOES TO WAR. Also, while not super-funny, there are a few good moments and I did laugh a few times–something I NEVER did with many of the other 1940s films they made.

Overall, if you are not a fan of the team or know little about them, don’t watch this film. It will not particularly impress you or you might assume it’s like their earlier work–which it isn’t. However, if like me you are a rabid fan, then at least this one won’t make you cringe and it’s a harmless diversion.