"The Role I LIked Best...." by Robert Walker

Saturday Evening Post from January 7, 1950

As a soldier, the lighthearted hero of "See Here, Private Hargrove" was deplorable. But as a screen character Private Hargrove was perfect. This was the type of role any young actor would be glad to play and, as it was my first big part in pictures, I thought it was wonderful.

Hargrove was a cheerfully irreverent G.I. in a war period when almost everything else was grim. The most amazing things happened to him, mostly bad, and he accepted them in an easy-going, good-natured way. As one screen critic said, he was as carefree "as only a private in the movies can be."

This picture really established me. People remembered it pleasantly, and some wrote to say that the film gave them an almost nostalgic feeling for their basic training days. The most unusual letter came from a soldier in Borneo who found three Japanese sitting at the edge of the jungle clearing, watching as the film was shown to a G. I. audience. The Japanese were so intrigued by the picture, this soldier reported, that they surrendered without a struggle.

I met Marion Hargrove, the author of the book, on the set and, strangely enough, I found that we looked a lot alike. However, I didn't try to imitate his mannerisms; I just tired to be natural.

Before the film was released, I attended a sneak preview in Glendale. Seeing my name in lights on the marquee was fine, but hearing the audience laugh just when we hoped to get laughs was even better. That really proved that we had put the story across.

Copyright Saturday Evening Post

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