Francis (1949)

Genres - Children's/Family, Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Animal Picture  |   Run Time - 91 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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One wonders if Donald O'Connor would have consented to star in Francis if he knew that a series was to follow. Adapted by David Stern from his own novel, the film stars O'Connor as GI Peter Sterling, who appears to be bucking for a Section Eight. Seems that Sterling keeps insisting that Francis, a cantankerous Army mule, has the power of speech. It turns out that Francis not only can talk, but is also a superb military strategist. With Francis' help, Sterling breaks up a Nazi spy ring and becomes a hero -- but this is only the beginning, as the future entries in Universal's Francis series would prove over and over. Providing able support to the hapless O'Connor are Patricia Medina, Ray Collins, and especially ZaSu Pitts as a bewildered Army nurse. The voice of Francis is provided by Chill Wills, who likewise showed up in most of the Francis sequels, and who, like O'Connor, bailed out before the final entry, Francis in a Haunted House (1956).

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Keywords

mule, talking-animal, asylum [mental hospital], friendship, hero, military-academy, war, spy