Thursday, October 6, 2011
ADVANCE TO THE REAR
During the civil war, Union brass are so dismayed by a unit of screw-ups headed by Colonel Brackenbury (Melvyn Douglas), that they reassign them to a backwater outpost -- then realize that they made a dreadful error: a consignment of gold is coming and needs to be guarded by the screw-ups. In the meantime rebel spy, Martha Lou William (Stella Stevens), engages in a cat and mouse game with Brackenbury's second-in-command, Captain Jared Heath (Glenn Ford). Can Brackenbury's men manage to keep the gold out of rebel hands? This is a generally amiable if distinctly minor comedy with a few amusing sequences and characters. Douglas, of course, gives the best performance, but the others are good as well, including Jesse Pearson, who played Conrad in Bye, Bye Birdie, as a soldier with an odd attraction for horses. Jim Backus [I Married Joan], Whit Bissell [The Family Secret], Joan Blondell [Nightmare Alley], and Alan Hale Jr. [The Killer is Loose] are also in the cast.
Verdict: If you think the Civil War was funny ... **1/2.