19 April 2011 | abcj-2
Advance to the Rear...A quirky romantic comedy action adventure western war movie all in one
Advance to the Rear (1964) I love quirky romantic comedies, westerns (some with humor when it works), and fun action-adventure, but I can't stand anything about the Civil War. I DVR'd (if that's not a word, I'm making it one) this movie for two reasons. 1.) I have a newfound crush on Glenn Ford after seeing him in Dear Heart. 2.) A poster on the Dear Heart board said a good Glenn Ford comedy was coming on TCM this spring. So, when I saw this film was a Glenn Ford comedy, I just naturally assumed I'd stumbled across her recommendation and DVR'd it. All things happen for a reason. I was meant to discover a quirky romantic comedy action adventure western war movie all in one. That doesn't happen often. I'm not sure it can happen again.
Regardless, I was sort of ho-hum about the Civil War part, but I thought I'd cheer up my poor husband who was sick with food poisoning (duck from a nice restaurant, not my cooking). I was already pretty interested after Robert Osborne's introduction before the first scene played. The setup before the credits was a good teaser, and by the time the credits rolled I was hopeful. I knew I was hooked the minute Glenn Ford was taunting the rebs with talk of fried chicken. Then I was absolutely rolling when Ford and Douglas had their first scene and the first of many disagreements. They played off of each other so well. Douglas had his leading man days in his younger years, but some of my favorite roles are supporting ones. He sparred superbly with Cary Grant in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.
By now I'd made up my mind that this was in no way going to be a dreary Civil War film. The next test was Stella Stevens. I saw her in a cute Dean Martin film and was just so thankful she didn't have on a buxom bikini and a Swedish accent and ended up liking the movie. To my delight, she's a beautiful rebel spy that appears to still have her virtue. That's hard to find in movies now, but it really makes for a clean, fun classic film which is what I enjoy the most. Through a series of preposterous events, Ford becomes involved with Stevens and their chemistry was just perfect and their banter adorable.
The supporting cast included Joan Blondell, Alan Hale (Jr.), Jim Backus, and a lot of other familiar faces from my days of watching great TV and movies on rainy days long ago. The stunts were very creative, the horse scenes were humorous, the crazy Company Q was comprised of the most perfectly matched bunch of misfits. The only one remotely sane was Ford, the suave and charming straight man. Finally, the film actually had a plausible plot that ended up making sense and everyone happy. Other than a few over the top slapstick scenes, I enjoyed this silly treasure. It even got a few chuckles out of my sick husband before he fell back asleep.
What a great Sunday afternoon treat and one I'll want to see again! I highly recommend it to anyone who loves fun classic but totally unique quirky romantic comedy action adventure western war movies all in one.