THE FIGHTING GUARDSMAN. Columbia Pictures, 1946. Willard Parker, Anita Louise, Janis Carter, John Loder, Edgar Buchanan, George Macready, Lloyd Corrigan. Based on the novel The Companions of Jehu by Alexandre Dumas père. Director: Henry Levin.

   In all truthfulness, I don’t think there’s much in the novel in this movie, and what’s there is all jumbled around, with no Napoleon Bonaparte in sight, and what’s worse, if you’re a Dumas fan they’ve made a comedy out of it, sort of. (Since I’ve not read the book, but only read about it, there may be some comedic aspects to it, in which case, I will take back that last phrase of that first sentence. Eat my words, I will.)

   But picture a young Edgar Buchanan in various late 18th century peasant garb, or posing as a guard of the royal court (Louis XVI in the movie, and Louis XIII in the book, if I have it right), and prone to funny sidekick behavior, you will see what I mean.

   Also picture Louis XVI as played by pudgy Lloyd Corrigan (Wally Dipple four times on the old Ozzie & Harriet TV show), as he futilely tries to make some inroads, romance-wise, with Janis Carter, whom he has invited for a long stay at his country hideaway – a brassy showgirl type if ever there was one – which is not bad casting, since she’s playing the daughter of the local tavern-keeper, and as such is able to slip Roald (Willard Parker) and his Companions of Jehu some inside dope on what the king and his men are up to.

   (The photo of Mr. Corrigan comes from a scene in The Manchurian Candidate, an altogether different kind of movie, to be sure, but it’s the best I’ve been able to come up with, so far.)

   This is one of those “The Peasants Are Revolting!” movies, which was serious business at the time, but in this movie it has been turned into just another cowboy western, or it would have been, if cowboy westerns had pudgy kings in them with fingers just itching to find their way into places where they were not allowed. (I’ve left a lot of the rest of the plot out, and with a running time of 84 minutes, this means a noticeable amount.)

   Willard Parker, last mentioned on this blog for his title role in The Great Jesse James Raid [reviewed here ] is just as stalwart and upstanding as he was when he was playing Jesse James. At least he’s supposed to be a hero in The Fighting Guardsman, and I have to admit that he does it very well.

   And if the movie had been filmed in color, as it should have been, he would have done it even better, I am sure.