Nazi spies mistake Snuffy Smith’s moonshine for a new secret rocket fuel and try to steal the “formula.”
Hillbilly Blitzkrieg, developed from the long running comic strip, Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, is a silly comedy tossed with slapstick, mule races and clandestine spies. Set in the WWII era, goofy Army Private Snuffy Smith (Bud Duncan) is forever a thorn in Sargeant Homer Gatling’s (Edgar Kennedy) side. Neither is the “shiftless skunk” Snuffy’s favorite, but when Sgt. Gatling receives orders to guard a new secret weapon, the pesky hillbilly begs to get in on the action. The sergeant finally relents, allowing Snuffy to follow the Army truck in a mule driven wagon. The blue-nosed mule is predictably stubborn, but a bit of Snuffy’s motivating moonshine sets that mule on fire.
What would a story of mules, moonshine and a hollering hillbilly soldier be without a little romance? We discover Snuffy, although he can’t read, has been receiving love letters from a secret admirer, but alas, that secret admirer turns out to be a lovely Nazi spy, intent on pilfering the secret fuel formula used to propel a new and important rocket. But they must get past Sgt. Gatling and Snuffy first — and past the kooky inventor, who ends up the inebriated inventor after Snuffy generously shares his fiery mountain concoction.
So where does Barney Google (Cliff Nazarro), the cigar-smoking, fast-talking gambler come in? It just so happens Mr. Google has an interest in the successful development of the rocket, but needs $500 to complete the project. He wages a bet that Spark Plug (a reoccurring horse in the comic strip) can beat the blue-nosed mule in a two mile race. With Snuffy’s help distracting the mule, Spark Plug cinches the $500 and the rocket is on its way to completion.
A rocket can’t go to waste in a such a knee-slappin’ masterpiece, so Sgt. Gatling orders Snuffy to hide inside (which makes no sense, but what the h-e-double hockey sticks). A fiddling Nazi spy ignites the thing and Snuffy is soon touring the wild, blue yonder.
There are a couple of reasons people may want to watch this 40’s comedy. Not because it’s good — it’s not. But it is a stellar example of how not to write, act, direct and edit. Film students could have a heyday. Looking past the awkward structure, long, undercut scenes and comedy that doesn’t gel, there is the quite redeeming aspect of the story delineating right and wrong, good and bad. That’s refreshing 80 years later.
Although moonshine was featured in a few scenes, it’s not overbearing or enamored. A sub-story in the film revolves around the wacky inventor’s daughter and a handsome Army soldier becoming the hand holding romantic element. And although it is a comedy, the film doesn’t disparage the military. Dove awards Hillbilly Blitzkrieg the All Ages Seal of Approval.
The Dove Take:
This 1942 slapstick comedy falls short of being what we consider a good film, yet it brings us an old film that refreshingly lacks the moral relativism of today’s entertainment.