Tanks a Million
In 1941, producer Hal Roach abandoned production of full-length features in favor of a new concept: The "Streamliner," a four-reel film-halfway between a short subject and a feature-designed for the double-bill market. The first Roach streamliner was the timely service comedy Tanks a Million, previewed in August of 1941 and released by United Artists the following month. Chubby William Tracy starred as Dodo Doubleday, a feckless Army draftee blessed (or cursed) with a photographic memory. Inexplicably promoted to sergeant, Doubleday becomes the bane of topkick Sgt. Ames' (Joe Sawyer) existence. On the verge of being booted out of service because of his constant bumbling, Doubleday redeems himself by curing his commanding officer of a bad case of "mike fright" just before a network radio broadcast. At 50 minutes, Tanks a Million was one of the longer streamliners, and one of the best: it would spawn several William Tracy-Joe Sawyer sequels, including Hay Foot, About Face, Fall In and Yanks Ahoy.