Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Never Wave at a WAC


The grandmother of Private Benjamin, but without most of the fun. All through the ‘50s and into the ‘60s the WWII generation, of whom most of the males had served in the armed forces, were gaga for “service comedies.” These films made the Army and the Navy seem like fun places to be. This time it was the Women’s Army Corps’s turn. The WAC was founded in 1942 and shut down in 1978, when females began serving in the regular Army. I doubt that it was ever anything like what we see here, which is mostly a silly hen party. Some of the seriousness of the WAC mission is shown. These women did go through some tough basic training, but according to the movie, rifle training was optional. I have no reason to disbelieve that. The WAC obviously was eager to see the film made, and gave a lot of cooperation, in the form of thousands of marching extras in skirts. General Omar Bradley himself makes a brief appearance.

This is the story of the spoiled daughter of a senator (Rosalind Russell) who joins the WAC to get near her sweetie stationed in Europe. But the senator thinks a little hardship will be good for her, so she arrives at Ft. Lee prepared to party in fine clothes, and be commissioned a Major as soon as she’s sworn in. It’s fun to see her taken down a peg or ten, but it’s all pretty awkward and rife with the sexism of that era. Most incredible of all, she’s mustered out because of her inability to shed her sense of entitlement … and then on the way out of the base she realizes her heart is with these women. Sorry, just no way that’s going to happen.