SKIRMISH ON THE HOME FRONT (Paramount/U.S. Office of War Information, 1944)


(No director credited.) Written by Charles Brackett.


Alan Ladd (Harry W. Average). Betty Hutton (Emily Average). William Bendix (Herb Miller). Susan Hayward (Molly Miller).


One of the most novel of the many “war effort” shorts produced in Hollywood during World War II, Skirmish on the Home Front takes an especially imaginative route to hawk War Bonds: buy them now, we are told, and you'll be able to have a dandy futuristic kitchen when the war is over! And where else would you see Ladd and Hutton as a romantic team...not to mention Bendix and Hayward in slightly less stressful circumstances than those in The Hairy Ape? Hutton, in particular, is more restrained and glamorous than usual as she expertly gives us the lowdown on that incredible kitchen-that-would-never-be. Skirmish was released in both the U.S. and Canada; this print is the latter version, which explains the avuncular gentleman who appears at the halfway point. For contract stars like Ladd and Hutton, films like Skirmish were simply part of a day's work; small wonder, then, that when this print was run for Betty Hutton in 1996, she barely remembered having appeared in it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 --Richard Barrios