- 1 hr 19 min
Doughboys is a 1930 American pre-Code war comedy-drama film directed by Edward Sedgwick and starring Buster Keaton, Sally Eilers, and Cliff Edwards. The film tells the story of Elmer J. Butts (Buster Keaton), a timid and cowardly young man who joins the army after being dumped by his girlfriend's father. The film takes place during World War I, and Elmer is sent to France to fight in the trenches.
The film begins with Elmer celebrating his engagement to his girlfriend, played by Sally Eilers. Elmer is a shy and unassuming young man who works in a bakery with his girlfriend's father. Elmer's girlfriend's father is a staunch anti-war activist, and he forbids Elmer from marrying his daughter unless he joins the army.
Elmer reluctantly enlists and is sent to France. Once he arrives, he discovers that he is not cut out for military life. He is afraid of guns and is easily terrified by the noise and chaos of the battlefield. He spends most of his time in the trenches, writing letters home to his girlfriend and expressing his fear of dying.
Despite his fear, Elmer finds a comrade-in-arms in Alabam (Cliff Edwards), a fast-talking and wisecracking soldier who helps him survive the horrors of war. Alabam teaches Elmer how to shoot a rifle and helps him navigate the dangerous terrain of the battlefield.
As the war rages on, Elmer and Alabam are captured by the Germans and taken prisoner. They are sent to a prisoner-of-war camp, where they are subjected to brutal treatment and forced to work long hours in a munitions factory.
Despite their captivity, Elmer and Alabam are determined to escape and return to their unit. They hatch a plan to break out of the camp and make their way back to the trenches. The second half of the film follows their daring escape and their perilous journey back to the front lines.
Doughboys is a classic Buster Keaton film, full of his trademark physical humor and deadpan expressions. Keaton's character is the ultimate underdog, a loveable goofball who somehow manages to survive against all odds.
Cliff Edwards is also superb as Alabam, bringing a touch of humor and humanity to the film. Edwards' character is a savvy and street-smart soldier who helps Elmer navigate the complex social hierarchy of the army.
Sally Eilers, who plays Elmer's girlfriend, is less prominent in the film but provides a romantic subplot that gives the story a touch of sweetness.
Overall, Doughboys is a poignant and entertaining film that explores the horrors and absurdities of war while still managing to deliver laughs. Keaton's performance is a testament to his talent as a physical comedian, while the film's message about the futility of war still resonates today.
Doughboys is a 1930 classic with a runtime of 1 hour and 19 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 5.7.