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Dennis A. Amith
- Published on Amazon.com
Max Shulman was one of America's popular writers and humorists known for Dobie Gillis and when it came to novels, many of his work received film adaptations. One of them was "Rally Round the Flag, Boys!", film that would star Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Joan Collins and Jack Charson.
Directing the film would be the very popular Leo McCarey ("An Affair to Remember", "Going My Way", "Duck Soup", "Make Way For Tomorrow"), who co-wrote the screenplay with Claude Binyon ("Holiday Inn", "This is the Army", "Pepe").
The film would be one of the few to feature husband and wife Newman and Woodward and for the role of Angela Hoffa, Jane Mansfield was being considered for the role but the Newman's put their support behind actress Joan Collins who was eventually hired and made a big impression, showcasing her physical comedy and sexuality.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of "Rally `Round the Flag, Boys!", Twentieth Century Fox not only released a remastered version of the film on DVD but also released the "Joan Collins Collection" 5-DVD box set featuring the following films: "Rally `Round the Flag, Boys!"(1958), "The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing" (1955), "Sea Wife" (1957), "Seven Thieves" (1960) and "Stopover Tokyo" (1957).
"Rally Round the Flag, Boys!" is a sexual comedy which takes place in the fictional town of Putnam's Landing.
For PR specialist and constantly commuting, Harry Bannerman (played by Paul Newman), he just wants some alone time with his beautiful but busy and active wife Grace Bannerman (played by Joanne Woodward). He wants to block out any time that he can to relieve his sexual frustration but with two children and an activist wife, she is too busy to make the time for him.
While coming home one day, Harry gets a ride from his equally frustrated neighbor, Angela Hoffa (played by Joan Collins), who has a husband that works in the entertainment industry. But where most men are captured and hooked by Angela's beauty, her husband is too busy for her. So, Angela begins to fancy Harry and try to ask him hypothetical questions about their marriage and if he would go for someone like her. After a short while of flirting, Harry comes to his senses about wanting to be with his wife and children.
But while Harry tries to find an open date for his wife and get that alone time, as the two go to a city council meeting, the big topic in Putnam's Landing is how the military is planning a top secret mission to the area. The women of Putnam's Landing are against the military coming to their town and possibly corrupting the single daughters in town. So, as the town decides to put their support against the military, the council wants Grace to be in charge of the project.
This angers Harry because he wants alone time and now this latest project will take more time off the busy housewife as it is.
Once again very busy, Grace asks her neighbor Angela to give Harry a ride home. Angela knows now is a good time for her to put her sexuality out there and see if she can charm her way into getting closer to Harry. The two neighbors have a hilarious time and even moreso as Harry, frustrated about his wife, gets drunk. Even going so far to telling Angela how frustrated he is. Knowing the details of what Harry really needs, Angela wants to ease his sexual frustration.
As Harry travels on the job and goes to pitch his PR skills to General Thorwald (played by Gale Gordon), he quickly doesn't get along with the idiotic Captain Hoxie (played by Jack Carson). Harry was able to make his pitch to represent the military and so, his trip to visit Thorwald seems to be a positive meeting.
When Harry gets back to his hotel, he is told that Mrs. Bannerman is waiting for him inside their hotel room. Surprised and happy, Harry is excited that his wife has come all the way to see him and now they can have some quality alone time. But when he gets to his hotel room, waiting for him is Angela Hoffa.
Shocked to see Angela waiting for him, he knows that he must stop her before they go too far. But when Angela pulls out a bottle of the perfume (which drives Harry crazy...), she asks for Harry to open the bottle and in the process, spills the perfume on his jacket and on the front of his pants. Harry has no choice but to take off his pants and wait for the perfume to dry.
Meanwhile, Harry tries to tell Angela to get dressed and leave the hotel room and while Angela is getting dressed, surprising Harry is a visit by his wife Grace.
Grace agrees that the two need some alone time together and as she is ready to put on her nighty, out of the bathroom comes Angela, dancing for Harry. Now Grace thinks her husband and Angela are having an affair.
Now Harry's marriage to Grace is in shambles and as much as Harry tries to explain to her that it was a mistake, Grace doesn't want to listen.
The following day, as the military is about to come to Putnam's Landing, Grace Bannerman leads the charge with other mothers to prevent the military from coming in to town. And each time the media focuses on Grace, she comes out looking better than the moronic Lt. Hoxie. Knowing that Lt. Hoxie is making the military look bad, General Thorwald had no choice but to hire Harry for the PR job and to fix the problem.
As Lt. Hoxie and his men try to think up a plan to defeat the picketing women who are blocking the entrance to town, Hoxie decides to take the truck and drive through the picketers. But it was all a setup and Lt. Hoxie ends up crashing his vehicle in the water.
With a big PR mes now on their shoulder, fortunately the military has Harry Bannerman, while Putman's Landing has Grace Bannerman. Thus setting a confrontation between the once happily in-love couple.
It's a battle of the sexes and a battle between husband and wife. With Grace so upset with Harry for having an alleged affair with Angela, she definitely wants to win against her husband.
But with Harry is wanting to be close to her and the kids and wanting to work with Grace in a compromise that will help both the military and the people of Putnam's Landing. Meanwhile, Angela Hoffa still wants Harry and she will do whatever it takes to get close to him.
Which side will end up winning?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"Rally `Round the Flag, Boys!" is presented in widescreen (2:35:1). I have to admit that I was pretty happy to find out that 20th Century Fox put in the time to remaster the film and remove as many speckles as possible. For a film that is over 50-years-old, the film look absolutely great! In fact, because the colors are vibrant and the overall picture quality was cleaned up, I could only hope that this film is considered for a Blu-ray release.
I was doing a few tests, especially during the more motion-based scenes and was expecting to see some interlacing but fortunately, there are none. Overall, picture quality on DVD is very good but this film deserves a Blu-ray release!
As for audio, "Rally `Round the Flag, Boys!" is presented in English 4.0 Dolby Surround and Spanish and French mono. The film is pretty much a dialogue-driven film and I don't really recall hearing the surround channels fully utilized but the film is primarily center and front channel-driven and sounds very good. Dialogue is clear and even the music soundtrack is very good. I detected no hissing or crackle during my viewing of the film.
As for subtitles, the film is presented with English and Spanish subtitles and the film also has closed captions.
"Rally `Round the Flag, Boys!" comes with the following special features:
- Commentary by Author and Film Historian Aubrey Solomon - An insightful audio commentary by film historian Aubrey Solomon who talks about the challenges of filming certain scenes during the years of censorship.
- Animated Photo Gallery - (3:55) Featuring a photo and video montage from behind-the-scenes of Joan Collins from "Rally `Round the Flag, Boys!".
- Restoration Comparison - (2:24) Featuring a comparison of video of the 1997 unprocessed HD remaster and the improved version that underwent a visual improvement processing pass to reduce smaller dirt and film blemishes.
- Original Theatrical Trailer- (3:28) The original theatrical trailer featuring an introduction by Bob Hope and Leo McCarey.
- Interactive Pressbook - Featuring a series of still images which can be viewed and selected via remote.
- Advertising Gallery - A series of advertising still images which people can navigate via remote.
- Vintage Press Release - A series of press release still images which people can navigate via remote.
"Rally `Round the Flag, Boys! (as part of the "Joan Collins Collection")" comes with four lobby cards featuring still images from the film.
"Rally `Round the Flag, Boys!" is a sexual comedy which had a storyline that needed to be clever.
For director Leo McCarey, it was his job to maintain 1950's wholesomeness under the strict rules of the censorship group and of course, to dilute any references of sexual innuendo as much as possible. But while the film never gets blatantly sexual, Joan Collins knew how to bring sexiness to her role. May it be her in a bathtub with only her legs showing or her seductive flirtation, it may not seem so much today, but for many years, Hollywood studios in America had to abide by strict rules and to not showcase anything immoral or deviant.
We know that Harry is one heck of a horny husband who wants to have sex with his wife. Of course, the film doesn't use the words in that manner but you can sense Harry's sexual frustration as his wife is too busy and it's not that she doesn't want to have sex (or in this case, time at a romantic hotel), she is too involved in the committees and it irks Harry Bannerman.
While it was great to have husband and wife, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward working together, their real love for each other made great chemistry and they have doneso for many years offsreen. These two talents were a Hollywood couple but a couple that were truly in love and so to have them on the big screen and having marital problems, it was actually a big deal back in the day.
Joan Collins did a fantastic job of playing the seductress Angela Hoffa and while censors would not allow her to have her had on his face or doing anything sexual, the clever writing, Collins playing Angela and seeing her character so persistent and willing to ease Harry's sexual frustration was fun to watch. And if you have grown up to watch Joan Collins in these type of roles, especially in "Dynasty", it was quite interesting to see how she was during her younger years and instead of the "bitchy, wealthy diva", "Rally `Round the Flag, Boys!", Angela is wealthy but her demeanor is much more playful.
If anything, you have a great combination of strong performances by the Newman's, Collins but also from Jack Carson as the dopie, moronic Capt. Hoxie and then you also have an ensemble cast of characters such as the military men who want some boojum (I have not heard of this word until I watched this film) and the various people living in Putnam's Landing.
While most of the film was very entertaining and fun, there are some cheesy moments such as Comfort Goodpasture (played by Tuesday Weld) squealing when Grady Metcalf (played by Dwayne Hickman) starts playing the guitar and sings "You're my Boojum". That was a bit too saccharine sweet for my taste but considering the time and how teenage girls reacted to Elvis Presley, I suppose Comfort's squealing scene worked for the audience back then.
As for the DVD, "Rally `Round the Flag, Boys!" looks great with the remaster and there are a few special features included on the DVD as well. You also get four lobby cards included with this DVD and you can easily purchase this movie alone or as part of the "Joan Collins Collection".
If anything, "Rally `Round the Flag, Boys!" was a perfect film to showcase Joan Collins as a comedy actress but also a very sexy actress who shines on the big screen. It's a wonderful inclusion for this DVD box set and considering you have two acting powerhouses with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward doing a wonderful job on the film, it's Joan Collins that absolutely shines each time she is on screen.
Overall, if you are a Joan Collins fan or you just became a fan, you can bu this DVD but I also highly recommend checking out the "Joan Collins Collection" DVD box set.