Classic Film Guide

Tell It to the Marines (1926)

William Haines plays a young man who hitches a free ride on a train of recruits heading for boot camp, with no intention of entering training, just to get closer to the racetrack. Lon Chaney, playing a typical "tough as nails" Sergeant, is tipped off and corrals him back. We are then treated to a pretty good silent with what is (today) no longer an original story:

A reluctant recruit, who seems to get into an inordinate amount of trouble, battles stubbornly with a "by the book" Sergeant throughout his initial enlistment period. Then, both become engaged in a war conflict, battling side by side, such that each earns the other’s respect.  This one utilizes a love triangle to spice up their conflict through the years, with Eleanor Boardman (from King Vidor’s The Crowd (1928)) playing the woman.

Chaney plays his role well as the misunderstood Sergeant who only wants the best for his men and the Marines. The only real flaw in the film is the woman’s sudden concern then attraction for the recruit, who is obviously a jerk (practically raping her) until the very end of the film.

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