Movie Review: Soldier in the Rain (1963)
“A grand pair – add a brand new curve to AN OLD ARMY GAME!”
Soldier in the Rain (1963)
Director: Ralph Nelson
Cast: Steve McQueen, Jackie Gleason, Tuesday Weld
Synopsis: A young sergeant develops a close friendship with an overweight Master Sergeant.
If this oddity proves anything it’s that Steve McQueen (The Blob, The Magnificent Seven) was no comic actor. He plays it broad here – in direct contrast to an understated performance from Jackie Gleason (Papa’s Delicate Condition, Smokey and the Bandit II) – and it really doesn’t work; pulling faces, talking in a country bumpkin voice with his tongue curled, he comes across as both stupid and annoying, and it’s fair to say that Soldier in the Rain is a better film when he isn’t on the screen. Gleason is by far the best thing in this. His Maxwell Slaughter displays a pleasingly laid-back, jaded cynicism, and an amiability that only partly conceals a deep-seated insecurity about his weight: ‘Being a fat narcissist isn’t easy,’ he ruefully declares. His character has a pathos that is completely absent from every other aspect of the film. There are a few snappy one-liners like Slaughter’s quip about narcissism, but they’re too few and far between to make Soldier in the Rain anything other than a routine movie.
(Reviewed 12th December 2011)