Follow TV Tropes


Film / I Won't Play

Go To

I Won't Play is a 1944 short film (18 minutes) directed by Crane Wilbur.

The United States Marine Corps has, at high cost, taken a small Pacific island—"maybe Tarawa". The shooting having stopped, the island's Marine garrison is occupying the island under conditions of extreme boredom. They're so bored, in fact, that they enjoy listening to the tall tales of an obvious liar, one Joe "Fingers". Joe claims to have been a successful band leader, and not just that, but an entertainment guru that seemingly did everything and knew everybody—he got Frank Sinatra his big break, he helped George Gershwin write "Rhapsody in Blue", he gave Humphrey Bogart acting tips. When another Marine hangs up a picture of (fictional) pin-up girl Kim Karol, Joe claims to have discovered her.

The garrison receives, of all things, a piano, presumably for R&R. The other Marines excitedly ask Joe the professional musician to play, but he refuses. The other Marines decide that Joe is just a big liar, and they begin to shun him. But when Kim Karol herself (Janis Paige) shows up at the island on a USO tour, the other Marines get a surprise.



  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Joe dismisses "Kim Karol" as just the sort of stage name that ambitious actresses use.
  • Aside Glance: Joe plays "Rhapsody in Blue" for his buddies and then plays the part that he supposedly wrote, then looks directly at the camera and winks as the film ends.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Joe and Susan/Kim elect not to tell his Marine buddies that they're engaged to be married. But she does plant one hell of a big kiss on him as she leaves, one which Joe passes off as entertainment types always kissing each other.
  • The Chanteuse: Briefly, Kim Karol, who performs "Body and Soul" for the Marines with Joe on the piano.
  • The Münchausen: Well fine, Joe discovered Kim Karol, but did he really help Gershwin write "Rhapsody in Blue"? (Given that it was written in 1924 and Joe looks to be about 30, probably not.)
  • Advertisement:
  • Narrator: A narrator gets the story going, explaining that the Marines have taken a tiny island in the Pacific, and they listen to Joe's stories out of boredom.
  • Pin Up Girl: The Marine called "Chicago" puts up a pin-up photo of Kim Karol in the tent and refuses to let the other guys in the tent touch it.
  • The Reveal: Joe was a bandleader and he did discover Kim Karol. And it turns out that the reason he wouldn't play the piano is that when he and Kim were separated by the war, he pledged to never play piano again until he could play for her.
  • Semper Fi: A Marine on a tiny atoll telling unlikely stories to his friends.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Kim Karol is the only female character; justified as this is a small atoll in wartime.
  • Stage Name: In-Universe. Joe claims that "Kim Karol" is really named Susan.
  • Title Drop: Joe says "I won't play" when the other Marines get increasingly insistent that he play the piano.