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Soldier in the Rain (1963) - Plot Summary Poster

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Summaries

  • 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.

  • The bond of friendship between a worldly-wise Army Master Sergeant and his naive worshiper.


Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • M/Sgt. Maxwell Slaughter (Jackie Gleason) is a "lifer" NCO ("three-up, three-down") at a typical Army base. He has a private office in Special Services, where a drink machine dispenses bottle-soda when struck in the right place. Sgt. Eustis Clay (Steve McQueen) ("three-up") is a supply sergeant, whose specialty is providing preferred underwear ("drawers, cotton") for those who offer him favors. Eustis' mentor and preferred company is Sgt. Slaughter. Eustis fantasizes about ideas that will make he and Maxwell millions. Maxwell's role is to listen quietly and enjoy Eustis retelling the same fantasies. Neither can wait to separate from the Army. Eustis states with his ideas and Maxwell's brains, they will become millionaires. The plot involves Eustis evading an MP (Ed Nelson) who suspects Eustis of rotating mattresses in various locations to avoid being accused of misappropriating govt. property. One evening, Eustis invites Maxwell on a blind date with a high-school coed (Tuesday Weld), young enough by many years to be Maxwell's daughter.

    Eustis also has a date, and the four of them patronize a nightclub, which goes somewhat o.k. Another day, the same four go on a foursome golf date. They enjoy it until a private (Tony Bill) Eustis knows runs across the fairway to tell him his dog is ill. Eustis runs off to take a phone call, where he is told his dog ("Donald") is dead. Eustis is devastated and none of Maxwell's well-worn truisms comfort Eustis.

    That night, Eustis is sitting in a bar and mourning Donald. The MP who is pursuing Eustis over mattress issues is in the bar with another MP, and they are off-duty. They pick a fight with Eustis who defends himself well, but is outnumbered. When it seems Eustis is nearly done for, Maxwell appears and he is not in a good mood. He immediately involves himself in the fight with the two MPs and disposes of them both. Eustis recovers and goes to Maxwell, who now is not looking well. They talk and Eustis assures Maxwell that everything is o.k. Maxwell accepts Eustis' assurances with grace. The next day, Eustis goes to the hospital to visit Maxwell and finds him in bed and awake. They discuss their usual fantasies and make laughter. They assure one another that all is well and that Maxwell will return to work after a brief stay in the hospital. A few days pass and Eustis learns that Maxwell has died. Eustis is again devastated. Eustis had two actual friends in this world and they are both dead. Later, Eustis walks out of an office. A sign on the bldg. reads, "RE-UP". Eustis has extended his enlistment. Eustis meets the private he knows. Eustis and the private discuss the passing of Maxwell, that Eustis has "re-upped", and how his life has changed with the loss of Maxwell.

    Eustis walks over to Maxwell's office, which is being emptied of all furniture. He walks in, and absent-mindedly slaps the drink machine while passing by; the machine obediently responds by unloading a bottle of soda. Eustis, surprised at first, walks back to the machine, picks up the bottle, and opens the cap. He walks to a window facing the street, where movers are loading the final pieces of Maxwell's furniture. The movers close-up the van, climb in the cab and drive away. As they are about to leave, the viewer's perspective changes. From the outside of the building, we watch Eustis as he stares at the van. We see the reflection of the van in reverse on the window where Eustis is standing. As we see the reflection of the van pulling away from the curb, we observe Eustis. He stares out the window until the van disappears. Eustis, sitting in Maxwell's chair, rotates away from the window with the drink in his hand. We see Eustis' head and the arm holding his drink. Slowly, Eustis lifts his arm to take a swallow from the bottle, and we see his arm uplifted. Eustis then drops his arm on the chair.

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