Somewhere In The South Pacific – 1943 –
Late one night, The Boys row ashore, in a rubber raft, and sneak inland. They lie low, when they spot a Sentry, and, when he's out of sight, they spring to action. Willy signals for Christy to bring in the secret weapon – An air raid siren. He sets it down, uncovers it, and Tinker begins to crank it.
At the Nurse's quarters, the Nurses rush out, in their night clothes, and head for the air raid shelter. The Boys smile at the fact that their plan seems to be working, and, when all the Nurses are safely inside the shelter, they move in.
Gruber enters first, and the rest of the guys follow, with their party goods, like beer, pretzels, and a phonograph. Willy passes out the beer, Tinker starts a record on the phono, and the dancing begins.
The following day, in Binghamton's office, Binghamton is pretty upset with McHale, for the siren stunt his Crew pulled. McHale argues in his Crew's defense, stating that the guys are bored stiff, with life on their island, with so little to do. Binghamton threatens to report the incident to the Admiral, and McHale tells Binghamton that it's his privilege to do so, but adds that it's quite unfair to keep his Crew on restriction.
But Binghamton admits that he can't take any disciplinary action against the 73 Crew, at present, for he has a special recon mission for them, at island of Tuvalagi. It seems that a small party of Japanese Soldiers have taken up residence, on the island, and McHale and his Crew are to go in, observe, and report their activities. But Binghamton threatens, again, that if McHale and his Crew don't shape up, and "Start acting Navy", he'll throw the book at them.
Later, on McHale's island, The Boys are watching, for the 7th time, a move called 'Penelope Of Blueberry Hill', and are pretty sick of it. Gruber suggests some other movies, that they've also seen, numerous times, but no one is interested.
Willy calls "Ten-hut!" when McHale walks in, and all the guys snap to, but relax, when they see it's McHale. The guys are all anxious to know if McHale had any luck talking Binghamton into letting them off restriction. McHale has to tell them that he didn't, but goes on to tell them about the mission to Tuvalagi. But, McHale makes it clear, much to The Boys' dismay, that there'll be no shooting on this mission, and that they are only to keep an eye on that small party of Japs encamped there.
Christy then puts in a request for some new movies, and McHale promises to pick some up. Later, at the supply depot, Gruber sees a stack of war movies, sitting on the counter – Such as 'Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo', 'Action In The North Atlantic', and 'Dawn Patrol' – And asks about them. But, the supply Lieutenant tells them that they're reserved for Binghamton, who has been waiting for some quality movies for some 6 months. McHale tries to sweet-talk the Lieutenant into making a trade for some of their movies, but the Lieutenant flatly refuses.
Gruber then tries a little of his magic with the Lieutenant, to distract him. He pulls a silver dollar from behind the Lieutenant's ear, and the Lieutenant seems impressed. Then, in the process of showing the Lieutenant another coin trick, Gruber pretends to drop the coin on the floor, behind the counter. As the Lieutenant bends over to pick it up, McHale and Gruber switch the stacks of movies on the counter, putting the good movies in place of theirs. But the Lieutenant doesn't fall for it.
McHale is a bit embarrassed, at first, then calls the Lieutenant's attention to some small boxes, high up on a shelf, behind him. McHale asks for a half dozen of them, having no idea what's in the boxes, but tells the Lieutenant that his boys "Are wild about 'em". As the Lieutenant turns, and climbs a ladder, to retrieve the boxes, Gruber and McHale first switch the top containers, on the stacks of films, then switch places with the stacks, making it appear that the stacks are in their original positions.
When the Lieutenant comes back down, he takes a quick look at the stacks of movies, and, satisfied that they haven't been moved, then embarrasses McHale again when he shows McHale what he ordered, in the little boxes. Garter belts.
Later, in Binghamton's office, Binghamton and Carpenter watch, at the 73 heads out for their recon mission. Binghamton comments on how nice it would be, if – As the ancient sailors used to believe – The world was flat, and McHale and his Crew could sail right off the edge of the earth.
Shortly later, the Supply Lieutenant delivers Binghamton's movies. Binghamton signs for the movies, but, as the Lieutenant is about to leave, Binghamton takes a look at the film cans, and notices that they aren't the movies he was expecting.
"Where's my Bogart?" asks Binghamton, angrily. "My Flynn, my John Wayne? Where, Where?!"
"I don't understand, Captain." Answers the Lieutenant. "I had 'em right on the counter, when Commander McHale came in…"
With this, Binghamton has his answer, as to where his movies are.
Later, after they arrive on the island of Tuvalagi, Parker and some of the guys wait on the beach, for McHale and Willy to return. They've been gone for some 4 hours, and Parker is beginning to worry, thinking that they might have been captured by the Japs.
But, the Skipper and Willy are anything but in trouble. They sit in the hut of the local Native Chief, surrounded by beautiful native girls, laughing, as the Chief tells them jokes, in his native language.
Soon, a native man comes in with a frantic report that they are surrounded by armed men. McHale puts out the light, and he and Willy grab rifles, and hurry outside. McHale hears someone speaking Japanese, nearby, behind a stand of brush, and rushes over, and jumps him. But, it's only Parker, trying to draw McHale and Willy out into the open, with some Japanese phrases he learned from Fuji.
McHale, Parker, and The Boys head in, and McHale introduces them all to Chief Maku Maku, who welcomes them, in his language, and, as The Boys try to get friendly with his lovely Daughters, the Chief adds a warning, which McHale translates:
"The first gentleman who touches one of his Daughters, gets shish-kebobbed with a pig sticker!"
With this, The Boys all back away, and keep their hands to themselves.
McHale then asks Parker to radio the Captain, to tell him he was wrong about that small party of Japs. Parker is relieved, until McHale reveals that there is a whole company of 130 Japs stationed on the island. But, McHale tells the guys that, since their job is to observe, they will do just that, and enjoy themselves, while doing so.
The following morning, in his office, Binghamton stirs his tea, singing to himself, as Carpenter delivers the morning report. Binghamton admits that he's in a foul mood, the fact that he has no marmalade for his tea, adding to it. Carpenter comments that the supply convoy should have arrived, by now, but Binghamton adds that the convoy was delayed by headwinds, and heavy seas, and shows Carpenter the convoy's approximate position on the map, roughly 3 days out, from Taratupa.
Binghamton then takes a look at the morning report, the first entry on which, is Parker's report – Written in rather fancy prose – On the enemy concentration, on Tuvalagi. Six platoons of enemy infantry, and 4 light artillery pieces. Binghamton knows that the artillery could be bad news for the convoy. He also knows that he can't break radio silence, to warn them, for it would give away their position. So – As much as it pains him to do so – He knows he must ask McHale for help.
Back on Tuvalagi, McHale and The Boys are enjoying watching one of Binghamton's war movies, in The Chief's hut. McHale sits in the Chief's chair, and munches on grapes, quite involved with a battle scene, when Parker rushes in, with a radio message from The Captain. Distracted by the sound effects, in the movie, and a bit nervous, Parker relates that Binghamton's message states that there's a convoy coming through the straits, at midnight, and adds that the Captain's orders are to "Protect convoy at all costs".
Unable to keep his eyes off the movie, McHale asks:
"Well…" Parker says, "He says 'Good luck'. But, we need more than that! We need help!!"
"Nah," McHale returns, with a chuckle. "No, Binghamton would've sent it, if he had it.
Then, the movie suddenly gives McHale an idea.
Later, on the beach, on a crude map of the island, drawn in the sand, McHale points out their position, in relation to the Japs. The plan is to fool the Japs into moving their artillery from it's position overlooking the straits, to a position out of range of the convoy.
"To do this," adds McHale, "We gotta hit 'em with the works. Task Force Hollywood!"
Willy then adds that the Japs have an observer, not far away, who can report their decoy to the gun positions, and the plan is put into motion. Tinker has strips of the war movies spliced together, and McHale and Parker step over, to check his progress.
"Look who we got on our side," says McHale. "Errol Flynn, and his Lafayette Escadrille Squadron… Humphrey Bogart, and his Sherman Tanks, at Tobruk… And John Wayne, with his Union Cavalry!!"
"And, for an encore," says Tinker. "The British Fleet versus the German Navy, in the Battle Of The North Atlantic!"
"Plus…" adds McHale, "The entire and original cast of 'This Is The Army'!"
Gruber and Willy take up positions with loudspeakers, attached to the projector. Parker, Christy, Virgil, and Happy man the 73, and soon, McHale gives the signal to begin.
Parker nervously orders Happy to let go the depth charges, and Christy and Virgil to fire the 50-calibers. Then, McHale orders Tinker to "Bring in Errol Flynn, and his 'SPADS', to soften up the beaches".
At the Jap lookout station, the sentry hears the guns, and explosions, quickly snatches up his phone, and reports to the artillery position. The Japanese Commander, there, takes a look through some binoculars, but is puzzled, when he doesn't spot anything.
Back at the projector, Tinker plays scenes of the British offshore batteries, from 'Battle Of The North Atlantic', then brings in Bogey and his Shermans, while, on the 73, Parker orders Christy to fire torpedo 1.
The plan is working, for, at the Jap artillery post, the Commander gives the order to move the guns. Shortly later, when they arrive at the sentry post, the Sentry points in the direction of the 'battle'.
As the Jap Commander takes another look through binoculars, Tinker brings in John Wayne, and his Cavalry, at the Battle Of Vicksburg. When the Commander hears this, his indicates that he thinks the Americans have lost their minds.
Meanwhile, the guys on the 73, have run out of ammo, and think that their plan isn't working, until the Japs start firing on the 73. On the beach, when McHale sees the shells exploding near the boat, he orders Tinker to put on a new reel, to try to get the Japs to lower their sights. McHale doesn't know that Tinker doesn't have any more battle footage, and orders Tinker to put on a new reel, to try to draw the Jap fire away from the 73. Tinker tries to tell McHale that the only reel he has left, is 'Little Dolly Dumpling', but McHale won't listen, and frantically orders Tinker to put the reel on the projector.
Back at the Jap sentry post, the Japs are wondering why the 'battle' as stopped, until Dolly begins to sing, then, they look at one another, in puzzlement.
Back on the beach, Gruber and Willy try to stop up their speakers, as McHale frantically orders Tinker to stop the film. But, in his haste, he breaks the knob off the projector.
Meanwhile, the Jap Commander orders the artillery to sight in on the beach, and they start dropping shells near McHale and The Boys. Tinker, Willy, and Gruber head for the boat, but McHale heads back for the projector, his conscience not allowing him to leave 'Dolly Dumpling' behind. As he runs back, Tinker, Willy, and Gruber dive for the ground, as a Jap artillery shell explodes, very nearby. Though McHale survives, he's a bit scorched, and tattered when he returns with a small strip of film in his hand.
"There goes a great little trooper, fellas." Says McHale.
He and The Boys then head out for the boat.
The following day, McHale, Parker, and The Boys are lined up, in Binghamton's office, in their dress uniforms. As Binghamton walks down the line of sharply-dressed Sailors, he passes along the Admiral's commendation for their "Ingenuity in carrying out what was a most difficult assignment, in a most unorthodox manner".
"However, the convoy, did get through safely, and I'd like to give you all what you so richly deserve." Says Binghamton, then he adds: "However, there's a regulation against it. Therefore, you'll all get 2 weeks shore-leave."
At this, The Boys raise a cheer, but their joy is short-lived, for Binghamton then tells them that, as a punishment for stealing his movies, their leave will be taken on their own island.
Binghamton then exits the office, and, as the guys complain about the situation, Gruber notices a stack of new movies, on Binghamton's desk, having recently arrived on the convoy, among them, some Bob Hope, and Betty Grable films. McHale quiets the guys, then takes a look out the door, to the outer office. When he sees that the coast is clear, he orders his men to "Evacuate", which they do, out the back door, as they tuck the film cans under their shirts.