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The Girl He Left Behind (1956)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama | 31 May 1957 (Netherlands)
Privileged college student Andy Shaeffer is a mama's boy who flunks out of school and is drafted by the army where he becomes a real man, to the astonishment of everyone.


David Butler


Guy Trosper (screen play by)




Complete credited cast:
Tab Hunter ... Andy L. Shaeffer
Natalie Wood ... Susan Daniels
Jessie Royce Landis ... Mrs. Madeline Shaeffer
Jim Backus ... Sgt. Hanna
Henry Jones ... Hanson
Murray Hamilton ... Sgt. Clyde
Alan King ... Maguire
James Garner ... Preston
David Janssen ... Capt. Genaro
Vinton Hayworth ... Arthur Shaeffer
Budd Knapp ... Congressman Hardison (as Wilfred Knapp)
Les Johnson Les Johnson ... Lt. Taylor
Raymond Bailey ... General
Florenz Ames ... Mr. Hillaby
Fredd Wayne ... Sgt. Sheridan


College students Andy Shaeffer and Susan Daniels are pinned. While Susan works hard to put herself through college, Andy sponges off his parents, his mother, Madeline Shaeffer, who in particular will give him whatever he wants. In other words, Andy is a mama's boy, which he doesn't really realize. Andy and Susan have used the word love to describe their relationship, but Susan isn't sure if that's what they are really feeling for each other or if it is solely a loveless passion. And if it is love, she isn't sure their relationship can survive without Andy taking some ownership of his life. The near end of their relationship, initiated by Susan, leads to Andy starting to flunk out of college, which in turn makes Andy a prime candidate to be drafted. During basic training at Camp Ord, California, Andy makes it clear to his superiors and his fellow privates that he doesn't want to be there and will do only what is requested of him without any extra effort. His superiors and fellow ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It's the Big Happy Look at the New-Look Peace-Time Army! See more »


Comedy | Drama


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Natalie Wood had originally intended to attend the 1956 Academy Awards with Raymond Burr as her date. Warner Brothers, however, felt that Wood's perceived involvement with a much older man appeared unseemly. The studio instead forced her to attend the ceremony with her co-star for this film, Tab Hunter. See more »


It is not an error that several of the soldiers seen in this film are wearing other unit patches on their right sleeves. They are all wearing the 5th Infantry diamond on their left sleeve. A soldiers current unit is always worn on the left sleeve. Those soldiers who are combat veterans are authorized to permanently wear the unit patch of the unit they fought with on their right shoulder. So all those patches on the right sleeves represent units those men served in during World War II or Korea. See more »


Capt. Genaro: OK. Now, you can get out of the Army under this regulation. But before you make up your mind, I want to tell you this. It is not an honorable discharge. It's a discharge under conditions other than honorable. It'll be on your record as long as you live.
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Featured in Tab Hunter Confidential (2015) See more »


Music by Max Steiner
Lyrics by Paul Francis Webster
Sung by the soldiers while marching
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User Reviews

Sour Comedy
3 July 2010 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

Spoiled rich kid (Hunter) is drafted into the army where he creates problems.

For about a ten-year period from the smash-hit Mr. Roberts (1955) to the deepening involvement in Vietnam, Hollywood produced a spate of service comedies, including this one. These were movies trading on the lighter side of military service. They existed in what might be called the triumphant after-glow of WWII, and perhaps as a way of further forgetting that awkward war in Korea. Of course, Hollywood being Hollywood, liberties with real military service were taken, sometimes in wholesale lots. Nonetheless, comedies like Mr. Roberts, Operation Mad Ball (1957), Operation Petticoat (1959) were genuinely funny and harmless entertainment unless taken seriously.

Few people, I expect, remember this entry and for good reason—it's not even amusing, let alone funny. Which means for one thing that folks familiar with Basic Training are not apt to overlook the many liberties taken, as other reviewers detail. Clearly, Warner Bros. intended the movie as a vehicle for its younger players, probably hoping for chemistry between Hunter and Wood. And that's the trouble. Hunter simply lacks the skills for what's actually a rather difficult role. Shaeffer needs to be not just arrogant, but also likable at some level. Unfortunately, Hunter's Pvt. Shaeffer is just obnoxious without the redeeming qualities that a Jack Lemmon or a Tony Curtis, for example, could have managed. And since Hunter's miscasting is in about every scene, the movie is more unpleasant than anything else.

Wood's role as the girlfriend is clearly secondary to Hunter's, and one most any young actress less talented could have handled. But at least, the movie's a payday for such fine supporting players as Jones, Janssen, and especially the arch Murray Hamilton whose platoon sergeant is made to suffer indignities from a trainee no real sergeant would put up with. I'm just sorry Jim Garner wasn't young enough to bring his superb light-comedy skills to the lead role. Then the movie might have worked.

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Release Date:

31 May 1957 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

The Girl He Left Behind See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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