Sentemental military comedy revolves around two contemporary army buddies, Master Sergeant Maxwell Slaughter (Jackie Gleason), a smooth operator, who supply Sergeant Eustis Clay (Steve McQueen) idolizes and hopes will join him as a civilian in a private business enterprise. Clay endeavors to be a player in the military, just like Slaughter, but it seems as though Clay still has a lot to learn from his mentor. They are joined by Tuesday Weld as a shrill dizzy blonde teenager named Bobby Jo Pepperdine and Tony Bill as bumbling Private First Class Jerry Meltzer, McQueen's screwball sidekick. Written by
While this scantily plotted 1963 comedy-drama is nothing to brag about in itself, what makes the film memorable (at least for me) is Jackie Gleason's superlative performance as Army MSgt Maxwell Slaughter. It seems the role of aging, overweight and fairly complacent career NCOIC was tailor-made for Gleason. OTOH, Steve McQueen overacts in his role as a young supply Sgt. Eustis Clay, who idolizes Slaughter and attempts to get him to quit the service and go into a business venture with him. It has been said that McQueen instinctively realized that Gleason was stealing the show and over-reacted, making himself look foolish in his comedic attempts. Tuesday Weld also delivers a fine performance in another tailor- made role as the pouty teenager, Bobby Jo Pepperdine, whom Gleason dates and inevitably forms a paternal attitude towards. Great chemistry between Gleason and her in their mutual scenes. Tom Poston and pre-Batman Adam West play small supporting roles as Army superior officers. Not much drama, but it is fascinating to watch Gleason actually bodyslam an adversary in a bar brawl! Besides the Gleason-Weld scenes, the most memorable ones involve the wistful monologues Gleason gives while standing before a full-length mirror in his office, as they reveal poignant insights into his character. As I've said, the film meanders, not really going anywhere, so the truncated ending is much of a surprise. If you don't care for Gleason too much, then you probably won't like "Soldier In The Rain" all that much either. However, if you are a Gleason fan, this film will be a delectable feast!
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