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Only one person commented on this film before me, and since I just
watched it on DVD, I wanted to give a little perspective so
movie-lovers can decide if they might like to watch it.
"Follow the Boys" fits a sub-genre of films produced from about the mid- 1950s to the mid-1960s. Mostly aimed at teen and young adult audiences, it's a combination comedy, romance, musical and fun time flick. Viewers may be most familiar with the beach blanket bingo lot, and a few other bobby-soxer and older male idol films of that period. This film though, has a little more plot to it. It has a good and light look at Navy service, and it's a step up from the teen fun to young love in marriage.
It's a wholesome film fit for family viewing. Its portrayal of the sexes as somewhat awkward and a little blushed at times, with a goodly amount of respect tossed in, and the usual pride between boy and girl, very well represents the largest chunk of young Americans of the time teens and young adults. The film takes place around the end of the "golden" teen years the period from after WWII until the early 1960s. These were the early years of the Cold War, and light entertainment helped folks ease the tension and thoughts about a looming nuclear disaster from the Soviet Union. Much as entertainment helped provide some relief from the worry and struggles of the Great Depression before WW II.
The musical scene had transitioned from swing to rock and roll. Elvis was the undisputed king of the platters then. The Beatles were yet to come, having just started to achieve fame in England. Flower children, hippies and Woodstock were yet in the future.
"Follow the Boys" has several funny scenes among the Navy men aboard ship, and among its four women stars. A few songs sung by Connie Francis fit nicely in the film. Francis was one of several young stars of that period who had an outstanding singing voice.
The movie was released in August, 1963, so it would have been filmed early that year and possibly in late 1962 as well. While others will know more about the specific ships, I can say that at that time the U.S. 6th Fleet was based at Villefranche, France. That means the flagship would anchor there, while the fleet carrier and other ships might anchor at any number of ports along the Spanish, French and Italian coasts. Villefranche is the first French town west of Monaco and Monte Carlo. Right next to it is Nice, France, and a short distance down the coast is Cannes, where part of this movie was filmed.
At the time it was being made, I was in the Army and stationed in Germany. A friend and I took most of our leave time in 1963 and 1964 for summer trips to Italy, the Spanish Costa Brava and the French Riviera. We met and befriended a sailor in Nice where a fine USO club was run for American sailors and soldiers. I don't remember now if there had been any scuttlebutt about a movie being made there then, but I didn't see it until many years later.
There certainly were some Navy families living in Villefranche, but I don't know if there were sea gulls as portrayed in this film women who followed the fleet from port to port. No doubt, there were some girl friends in different ports who looked forward to the ships coming in. We young servicemen then were 22 and 23 during those years. We had great fun with several young French women we met through the USO club, including some romance -- of the innocent type as shown in this movie.
"Follow the Boys" is a fun movie that will also give people today a look at the type of entertainment of that period. And, it's a good look at the mores of the young generation at that time in our history.
Bad comedy trying to cash on the fresh approach to sexual mores of «Where the Boys Are» (1960), but Connie Francis, who provided songs and a few comic lines in that one and received first credit in this one, was not as lucky as Dolores Hart, whose character establishes the tone of the 1960 cult film with her defense of free sex in one of the first scenes. Francis' singing is not enough to carry this comedy afloat; and Janis Paige is wasted in a melodramatic role. Locations are attractive, and Paula Prentiss, Russ Tamblyn and Dany Robin are okay, but the three of them had better moments in their film careers than the silly situations provided by the scriptwriters. «Follow the Boys» has some value, though, as a comic dramatization of the story of the women called "seagulls", who followed their mates, love interests, or easy ways to get a green card, from port to port in Europe. Although today it is not a very flattering portrait of modern woman, the fact that this motion picture was made at all makes one think that it seemed more than adequate for the post-war population. But even by 1963 standards Richard Thorpe's direction was tired, the songs were forgettable, and the script was poor.
Four women, in various stages of romantic pursuit, "Follow the Boys"
(men, actually) around European ports, mostly from a dilapidated old
jalopy. The four females are: Connie Francis (as Bonnie Pulaski), Paula
Prentiss (as Toni Denham), Janis Paige (as Liz Bradville) and Dany
Robin (as Michele Perrier). Their "Boys" are: Russ Tamblyn (as
Wadsworth Smith), Richard Long (as Peter Langley), Roger Perry (as
Billy Pulaski), and Ron Randell (as Ben Bradville). The cast is
likable, but the film is dull. Ms. Francis, not coincidently MGM's top
selling recording artist, is especially noteworthy; with relatively
little experience in films, she performs as well as anyone. However,
Francis isn't given enough to do. After an Italian wine-stomping event,
all's well that ends well.
**** Follow the Boys (2/27/63) Richard Thorpe ~ Connie Francis, Paula Prentiss, Russ Tamblyn
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