Like any young lad, in my misspent youth I oft dabbled in the odd plaything while neglecting my studies. I have fond memories of my school-marm spying a Lincoln Log in my lap, which would lead to a good lashing or the embarr’sments of a dunce cap atop my head. Of course, I have since smartened up and appreciate the value of studying Dick and Jane. Still, when a dear colleague telegraphed saying there would be a “...picture concerning belov’d playthings from my youth STOP”, I was all a-titter with excitement. A bit worried, perhaps, as to how they would knit the backstory together of both a hoop and a stick into a dramatic picture. Was I ever sorely misled. The picture G.I. Joseph, concerning naught but military gentlemen and cloaked killers from the Orient, contained no sign of rocking horses or spinning wooden tops.
Firstly, the picture was extremely hard to follow. It would shift betwixt scenes in such a quick manner that I had no time to readjust my monocle. Far too many characters were present, and I found it rather difficult to tell between who was whom. From what I could gather, it concerned the adventures of a Duke who stumbled willy-nilly across two warring nations and for some reason gives up his royal title to join the American ranks under the leadership of an old codger called Colonel Hawke. If this was attempting to satire our belov’d Roosevelt and his Rough-Riders, then frankly, it was horsefeathers.
Training for the Duke violated customary habits, even for a cavalry unit. They worked on newfangled military drills, protocol, and habits involving conduct, obedience and etiquette. The Duke and his color’d companion Ripp'd-Cord proved to be eager to learn what was necessary. It was decided that the men would not be trained to use the saber as other cavalries often used, because they had zero prior experience with that combat skill. Instead, they were versed in the use of strange iron uniforms that granted them mystical powers.
In their war together, the Duke and his regiment faced off against the mysterious Eastern forces of Cobra, a faction led by the iron-masked Destro, who plotted to destroy much of the known world. Venturing to exotic locations such as the far and middle Easts, the Fighting Joes acted cowardly and failed to observe the gentlemanly rules of battlefield conduct.
The crew on this picture seemed a strange mix, with a spendthrift director who seemed absent from the picture-making process to an editor who was either rheumy or spifficated, judging by the amount of cuts in the film-stock that were made.
The picture was ruined for me by the editing fellow as the constant flickering of cuts to and fro brought about in me a dire case of sea-sickness. I had to exit during one of the many battle sequences to calm my stomach. I then tried to demand my penny back from the theatre huckster, but was denied. Feeling quite hogswaggled, I returned home and dug out my old hoop and stick from the barn and proceeded to have a grand time. I highly recommend it.