Valerie Parks (Lana Turner), Ann Darrison (Susan Peters) and Leigh Rand (Laraine Day) are three very different women who have all joined the WACS.
Valerie is a beautiful, wealthy woman who lives a life of glamour and leisure. She joins up to prove that she’s a responsible adult and gain access to her trust fund.
Ann is a military wife who is very devoted to her husband and decides to join to support the war effort after her husband is sent overseas.
Leigh, a highly disciplined young woman, comes from a family of high-ranking military men and joins to honor family tradition, much to the delight of her proud father.
The three women meet on their way to Ft. Des Moines, where they will complete their basic training. With their clashing personalities and backgrounds, they instantly find themselves at odds. But when they’re assigned to the same barracks, Valerie, Ann and Leigh must attempt to overcome their differences.
Edward Buzzell directs Keep Your Powder Dry, a 1945 drama/comedy from MGM.
Keep Your Powder Dry mostly comes across as a typical propaganda film. It shows both the hard work and the fun that go into being a WAC. While they are dedicated to their work and take part in competitive programs, they also have the opportunity to go on picnics, go swimming and have dates with soldiers in their spare time.
Laraine Day and Lana Turner make great foes. Their early scenes of bickering are great. But the one remarkable aspect of this story is the growth of these two characters, which elevates the standard “WACs advertisement” fare.
Val and Leigh have a rollercoaster of a friendship, sometimes getting along but often providing intense frustration for each other. Ann is the sweetheart who tries to moderate their feuds. Val and Leigh both transform by the end of the film, Val becoming more responsible and Leigh learning to loosen up a bit on her rigid rule-following, developing a greater sense of empathy.
The three central performances are very good and the actresses are all very charismatic, making the film fun to watch. It isn’t all light fare: there’s a bit of drama mixed in as well.
Keep Your Powder Dry met my expectations of being a film that would encourage enrollment in the WACs, but it exceeded my expectations in the development of its characters and how well it draws the viewer in. I enjoyed this one. The score: 4/5