Unlike Moby Dick, I Want You will not become a classic. Nor is it about whales. As a matter of fact, the only point of similarity is that the picture can be looked at from seven different sides--or on seven different levels, if you prefer--all at one sitting. Forthwith the levels:
1. As a recruiting blurb for the Army, the picture is top-notch. The "I" of the title turns out to be Uncle Sam, of all people. All the able-bodied men of draft age and a little bit over who appear in the film sooner or later wind up in the services, feeling extremely noble about it all. Really fills you with spirit.
2. As a sociological study of American life as it was affected by the opening of the Korean war, it is mediocre. There is a familiar ring to it, something reminiscent of the pictures that appeared during the early part of World War II, and there is not much effort to dig below the traditional movie world of apple pie and Mom, both of which appear prominently.
3. As a psychological study of individual personalities, it is even more damaged by superficiality. None of the characters are really appealing or sympathy-evoking; they might all have been dragged out of the studio closet marked: "War, Types of Lives Disrupted by."
4. As a collection of performances, it is a good bit above the average. Granite-faced Dana Andrews does all right when the part gives him a chance; Dorothy McGuire is quite pleasing when not embroidered with her sickly-sweet smile; Peggy Dow is handicapped by bad writing of her part, but bears up nobly; and Farley Granger gives quite a good performance as a reforming black sheep.
5. As a love story, it is trite. There are two husband-wife relationships and one boy-girl combination which eventually ripens into marriage. None of them boasts any new twists, but they are well-executed repetitions of the standard formula, if you go for that sort of stuff.
6. As a panorama of re-education and enlightenment, it is positively exhaustive. Everybody, down to the most minor character, stumbles upon at least one "big truth" during his appearance on the screen, and the things that the Army does for people's understanding of themselves and the world around them is simply remarkable.
7. As entertainment, it is not impressive. Perhaps pictures about pre-war situations are intrinsically harder to make well than pictures about post-war situations, but anyway this one never quite comes off. Its chief effect is to remind everyone that war and the draft are important threats these days.