One might classify the film a fairy tale in khaki. The screenplay out of a novel by William Goldman relates the bittersweet tale of two modern army buddies - a smooth operating master sergeant (Jackie Gleason) who has found a home in the service, and his hero-worshipping protege (Steve McQueen), a supply sergeant who is about to return to civvies and hopes Gleason will join him in private enterprise on the outside.

One might classify the film a fairy tale in khaki. The screenplay out of a novel by William Goldman relates the bittersweet tale of two modern army buddies – a smooth operating master sergeant (Jackie Gleason) who has found a home in the service, and his hero-worshipping protege (Steve McQueen), a supply sergeant who is about to return to civvies and hopes Gleason will join him in private enterprise on the outside.

There are several sudden, and vigorous, bursts of comedy dialog, principally exchanges between Gleason, who has a complex about his bulk, and Tuesday Weld, who plays a basically sweet but dumb and ingeniously tactless 18-year-old whose idea of a compliment is to refer to him as a ‘fat Randolph Scott’. But such mirth is only spasmodic and is snowed under by a sentimental approach that misfires.

McQueen is a kind of southern-fried boob who reminds one of Clem Kadiddlehoffer. The style of portrayal is exaggerated and unnatural. Gleason fares better with a restrained approach, through which his natural endomorphic vitality seeps through. Weld is a standout with her convincing portrait of the classic dizzy blonde as a teenager. Tony Bill scores as McQueen’s screwball sidekick.

Soldier in the Rain

Production

Allied Artists/Cedars-Solar. Director Ralph Nelson; Producer Martin Jurow; Screenplay Maurice Richlin, Blake Edwards; Camera Philip Lathrop; Editor Ralph E. Winters; Music Henry Mancini; Art Director Phil Barber

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1963. Running time: 87 MIN.

With

Jackie Gleason Steve McQueen Tuesday Weld Tony Bill Tom Poston Ed Nelson

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