Top Sergeant (1942)

58 or 64 mins | Drama | 21 June 1942

Director:

Christy Cabanne

Cinematographer:

George Robinson

Editor:

Milton Carruth

Production Designer:

Jack Otterson

Production Company:

Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Showdown . According to HR , the title change was made because Universal was afraid that audiences might think that the film was a gangster drama. The film opens with a short prologue by actor Andy Devine, in which he dedicates the film to the veterans of World War I who are now training the Army of the future. The film makes extensive use of actual military footage of American soldiers in ... More Less

The working title of this film was Showdown . According to HR , the title change was made because Universal was afraid that audiences might think that the film was a gangster drama. The film opens with a short prologue by actor Andy Devine, in which he dedicates the film to the veterans of World War I who are now training the Army of the future. The film makes extensive use of actual military footage of American soldiers in training. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
3 Oct 1942.
---
Film Daily
1 Oct 42
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Mar 42
p. 2, 7
Hollywood Reporter
24 Mar 42
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Mar 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Aug 42
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
26 Sep 42
p. 922.
Variety
23 Sep 42
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Orig story
Orig story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
[Sd] tech
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit pub wrt
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Showdown
Release Date:
21 June 1942
Production Date:
9 March--late March 1942
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Co., inc.
Copyright Date:
2 June 1942
Copyright Number:
LP11344
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
58 or 64
Length(in feet):
5,769
Country:
United States
PCA No:
8383
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At Camp Amhurst, Company A, 18th Engineers, lead by Sgt. Dick "Rusty" Manson, is sent out on field maneuvers. When a series of mines fails to explode, Rusty is sent to find out what the problem is. Rather than listening for their orders, corporals Frenchy Devereaux and Andy Jarrett enjoy their detail listening to a football game. Back at headquarters, Rusty chastises his brother Jack for participating in the shenanigans of the older Frenchy and Andy. He also chastises Frenchy and Andy, who have been "busted" to privates for the eighth time, and warns them that, with the current world situation, it is their responsibility to train the new recruits for what may lie ahead. Later, while the platoon is in transport, it is run off the road by three gangsters who have just robbed the local Brownsville bank. Along with the police, Rusty, Frenchy and Andy manage to kill two of the thieves, but Jack is killed by the third when he disobeys his brother's orders and goes after the gangster alone. Rusty asks his commander, Col. Gray, for a leave of absence in order to find his brother's murderer, but the officer reminds the sergeant that he has a greater responsibility to the Army. The subject of a massive manhunt, Al Bennett, Jack's killer, enlists in the Army, and becomes one of Rusty's new recruits. He then receives an urgent telegram from his fellow gangster, Tony Gribaldi, and despite the recall of all passes, Al meets with Tony at MacDougall's Café. Tony tells of his plan to turn the small café into a nightclub, with Al acting as his partner ... +


At Camp Amhurst, Company A, 18th Engineers, lead by Sgt. Dick "Rusty" Manson, is sent out on field maneuvers. When a series of mines fails to explode, Rusty is sent to find out what the problem is. Rather than listening for their orders, corporals Frenchy Devereaux and Andy Jarrett enjoy their detail listening to a football game. Back at headquarters, Rusty chastises his brother Jack for participating in the shenanigans of the older Frenchy and Andy. He also chastises Frenchy and Andy, who have been "busted" to privates for the eighth time, and warns them that, with the current world situation, it is their responsibility to train the new recruits for what may lie ahead. Later, while the platoon is in transport, it is run off the road by three gangsters who have just robbed the local Brownsville bank. Along with the police, Rusty, Frenchy and Andy manage to kill two of the thieves, but Jack is killed by the third when he disobeys his brother's orders and goes after the gangster alone. Rusty asks his commander, Col. Gray, for a leave of absence in order to find his brother's murderer, but the officer reminds the sergeant that he has a greater responsibility to the Army. The subject of a massive manhunt, Al Bennett, Jack's killer, enlists in the Army, and becomes one of Rusty's new recruits. He then receives an urgent telegram from his fellow gangster, Tony Gribaldi, and despite the recall of all passes, Al meets with Tony at MacDougall's Café. Tony tells of his plan to turn the small café into a nightclub, with Al acting as his partner and chief advertiser at the army camp. Helen Gray, the colonel's daughter, tries to sneak Al back into camp, but he is caught at the main gate by Rusty, which leads to a fight between Helen and the sergeant. With Al's help, the opening of the nightclub is a big success. Rusty tries to make Helen leave the nightclub, and when Al objects, the two soldiers start a barroom brawl. Rusty, Frenchy and Andy are disciplined for their actions, but after Helen confesses to her father that she was the cause of the fight, the three soldiers are fully reinstated. Later, a twenty dollar bill from the bank robbery is passed by an unknown soldier to Todd, a local jeweler. Al overhears Rusty tell Frenchy and Andy about the break in the case, so he murders the jeweler. Because Al had given Helen a piece of jewelry from Todd's store, Rusty accuses the private of the murders, but he has no proof to back his accusations. The company is then sent on two weeks of intensive maneuvers, during which Al intercepts a letter to Rusty from the Brownsville bank, stating that bank teller Ansel Jacobs can definitely identify the bank robbers. Using his explosives expertise, Al replaces the company's fake explosives, which Frenchy and Andy are to use to "blowup" a bridge which Rusty has been assigned to, with real dynamite. Rusty survives the explosion, but fifteen of the new recruits are killed. Frenchy and Andy are blamed for the incident, and they are brought before a court-martial hearing. They are freed when Jacobs appears at the hearing and identifies Al as one of the bank robbers. The killer escapes, however, when he jumps out the window and steals an Army truck and machine gun. The Army joins the civilian authorities in pursuit of Al, and use a fighter plane to track the fugitive's movements. Rusty, Frenchy and Andy corner Al, and while the corporals draw his fire, Rusty sneaks up behind him. The two men fight, with Al knocking Rusty out, but before Al can kill the sergeant, Frenchy shoots and kills the gangster. Because of his heroic actions, Rusty is offered officer's training school, but he refuses, as he wishes to continue service duty with his two friends. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.