Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


ADVANCE TO THE REAR (1964). Director: George Marshall.

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.

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