Plot: Peter (Donald O’Connor) once again finds himself hailed as a hero and once again, he has Francis to thank for his success. His friend the talking mule tipped him off to a suspicious truck that arrived at a military base and while at first blush the truck passed inspection, a closer look revealed the truth. The truck’s passengers tried to get wise once the ruse was exposed, but thankfully, the base’s staff handled the situation. Now as a reward for his keen eye and detection skills, Peter has been sent to West Point, where his talents can be sharpened even more. But he won’t go alone and Francis follows him there, where the mule will serve as a mascot. What misadventures await at West Point and will Francis’ secret be kept under wraps?
Entertainment Value: Francis is back, but after the fun Frances Goes to the Races sequel, this one feels like a step backwards. The return to the military environment is not one that yields great results and while the narrative is competent, I was never drawn into the story much here. This carries over to the overall humor, which seems dialed down and less effective, even compared to the light, fluff laughs found in the Races installment. I suppose I just prefer this series when it focuses on the sillier elements, which isn’t to say this movie is all that serious, just not as outlandish and over the top as some of the others. I still think there’s some entertainment here and it was wise to pull back the run time to a brisker 82 minutes, I just wish the humor was more consistent and the pace a little more kinetic. Even at this brief duration, some scenes can drag on and a snappier pace might have worked wonders, though coupled with a sillier tone would have done even more. I had some fun though, as I like the dynamic between Francis and Donald O’Conner, so fans of the series will likely have some laughs with the duo in this adventure.
In this third Francis picture, Donald O’Connor returns yet again as the hapless Peter, who provides a likable anchor for the series. He has the routine down by this point, so there’s no surprises or variations in his performance, but he provides laughs and really, that is what he’s here to do. This material doesn’t ask much of him beyond some silly facial expressions and oblivious reactions, so O’Connor handles the light comedic needs of the movie with ease. I like his interactions with Francis, as O’Connor makes the goofy premise seem sincere and even in the slower sections, you can always look forward to those humorous exchanges. As usual, a light romance is wedged in and this one is about as effective as the others, not that much. Even so, it provides a mildly interesting side thread and that’s something, I suppose. The cast also includes Alice Kelley, Lori Nelson, Gregg Palmer, and William Reynolds.