Cast & Crew
Arriving at the Putnam Landing train station, commuter Harry Bannerman wonders why his wife Grace is not there to pick him up. Angela Hoffa, the alluring, neglected wife of television writer Oscar Hoffa, is awaiting her husband, and when she learns that he has missed his train, she offers Harry a ride home. As Angela enumerates her marital woes, Harry protests that he is a happily married man. Upon arriving home, Harry finds his harried wife Grace absorbed in her pursuit of civic duties. When Harry complains about Grace's constant committee meetings, Grace breaks into tears and then tantalizes Harry with the promise of a romantic evening at the St. Regis Hotel in New York the following Tuesday. That night, during a town meeting to discuss a proposed garbage dump, Harry entertains romantic fantasies about his wife until his reverie is interrupted by the news that the Army has bought the dump site for a top secret project. When the town decides to form a committee to stop the Army, Grace is nominated as head and appoints Harry, a public relations expert, as their emissary to Washington. Grace then suggests he meet with Army officials the following Tuesday, effectively canceling their "second honeymoon" in New York. When Grace stays late at the meeting, Harry drives Angela home. Several drinks later, Angela slips into a slinky outfit, and they lurch into a drunken dance that ends with Harry swinging from the chandelier. Meanwhile, Comfort Goodpasture, the Bannermans' teenage babysitter, suddenly discovers boys and allows Grady Metcalf, the town delinquent, to tutor her in the art of kissing. In Washington, Harry meets with Gen. Thorwald and Capt. Hoxie, the officers in charge of the troops assigned to Putnam's Landing. After the hot-headed Hoxie announces that he would like to execute the entire town, Harry stammers and offers his public relations services to the Army. Meanwhile, Angela has decided to surprise Harry by checking into his hotel room as Mrs. Bannerman. When the desk clerk informs Harry that his wife has arrived, Harry rushes up to his room, pulls off his pants, and is bewildered to find Angela lounging in a pink dressing gown. After accidentally spilling Angela's perfume on his pants, Harry angrily tosses her a bedspread and orders her to get dressed. Angela disappears into the bathroom, just as Grace comes to surprise her husband. Unaware of Grace's presence, Angela springs out of the bathroom dancing, sending Grace storming out of the room. At home, Harry tries to explain the situation, but Grace throws him out. Soon after, Hoxie and his troops arrive in town, and the soldiers formulate a strategy to reel in the appealing teenage girls, who they term "boojoo." As Hoxie attempts to lead his men to the base, Grace and her committee block the bridge across the river. After television reporters come to cover the story, the general and Harry watch the scene on television as Hoxie plows his truck through the bridge and falls into the river to the jeers of the crowd. Sensing a publicity nightmare in the making, the general asks for Harry's help and reactivates his status as a lieutenant colonel in the Navy. Back in Putnam's Landing, Harry pleads his case with Grace and suggests using the soldiers in her July Fourth Pageant, which she has decided should have a Thanksgiving theme, as a gesture of good will. Harry insures Grace's cooperation by forging a letter from the Secretary of the Army, appealing to her patriotism. After Harry proposes casting the soldiers as the pilgrims, Grady, jealous of the attention that Comfort is lavishing on a private named Opie, convinces the local boys to play the Indians and start a war. On pageant day, Harry mans a model of The Mayflower while Hoxie leads a boat of pilgrims to shore in an enactment of the landing on Plymouth Rock. When the "Indians" tie Opie to a stake and set his shoes on fire, a brawl ensues onshore while a group of Indians swim out and sink The Mayflower with Harry onboard. Defeated, the general finally decides to reveal his secret project to the community fathers. After introducing them to a chimp named Leo, the general explains that they plan to shoot Leo into space and shows them a simulation of the mission. As Hoxie escorts Leo to the space capsule, Grace comes to the base in search of the general and is followed by Harry. After an affectionate wrestling match, they reconcile. Harry picks Grace up and sets her on the console, thus triggering the control that launches the rocket and sends sending Hoxie and Leo into space.
O. Z. Whitehead
Ralph Osborn Iii
Leroy Prinz Jr.
Edward "tap" Canutt
L. B. Abbott
R. E. Henderson
Harry M. Leonard
Louis R. Loeffler
Cyril J. Mockridge
Edward B. Powell
Stuart A. Reiss
Walter M. Scott
Lyle R. Wheeler
Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys!
Newman and Woodward were newlyweds fresh off the success of their first feature film collaboration The Long, Hot Summer (1958) when they decided to team up for the second time in Rally. Doing a comedy was a departure for the New York Actors Studio trained pair who had made their mark in serious drama.
The director for Rally was veteran Oscar®-winner Leo McCarey. McCarey's light touch with romantic comedy had garnered him great critical and commercial success over the years with classics such as The Marx Brothers' Duck Soup (1933), The Awful Truth (1937), Going My Way (1944), and The Bells of St. Mary's (1945).
Even though Joanne Woodward had just won an Academy Award for her riveting performance in The Three Faces of Eve (1957), Paul Newman had to convince 20th Century Fox to allow her to star opposite him in Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys!. The chemistry between the two may have worked in drama, but the studio wasn't convinced that the pair would have enough commercial appeal in a comedy. "Paul really had to sell them on me," said Joanne Woodward according to the 1988 book Paul and Joanne by Joe Morella and Edward Z. Epstein. "It's funny," she continued. "The same people who gave me the award are afraid to use me, because they're not sure people really know my name."
Newman and Woodward also had to fight the studio to use up and coming actress Joan Collins in the role of Angela. According to Collins, Fox originally wanted Jayne Mansfield for the part. "Joanne and Paul had insisted to director Leo McCarey that Mansfield was far too tarty and obvious for Angela, that the character should have a touch of class and an impish sense of humor, and they persuaded him to cast me," said Collins in her 1978 autobiography Past Imperfect. "They were good friends and I appreciated their loyalty. Few actors go out of their way to try and get a role for a friend, but the Newmans have always been generous and supportive in their relationships with people they care about."
Dwayne Hickman, who would go on to become well known on television for playing Dobie Gillis, was cast in the role of motorcycle enthusiast Grady, who romances the Bannermans' babysitter. Hickman had been working regularly on the popular TV series The Bob Cummings Show, and he looked forward to making a major feature film during his summer hiatus with such luminaries as Newman, Woodward and McCarey. It didn't hurt that Joan Collins was involved, either. "A gorgeous brunette from England, Joan Collins, rounded out the cast, and I do mean rounded out," said Hickman in his 1994 autobiography Forever Dobie. "She was the most sultry, sexy woman I had ever seen, and although Joan and I were the same age, she seemed much older and more sophisticated...she was far too intimidating for me to do anything about it."
It was the beautiful but more down to earth teenage actress Tuesday Weld who was cast as Grady's love interest Comfort Goodpasture. Hickman took notice of her, too, though she wouldn't give him the time of day when they weren't shooting. "I drove her home a few times," said Hickman, "and when I suggested that we go out on a date, Tuesday responded with a curt no. Then I made the mistake of pressing her for a reason. She rolled her eyes and said, 'For heaven's sake, don't be such a simpleton...And anyway, you act like a farmer.'" Little did Weld realize that she would be playing opposite Hickman again just a short time later as the money-grubbing object of his affections, Thalia Menninger, in the popular TV series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.
Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! was based on the popular 1957 novel of the same name by Max Shulman. According to Dwayne Hickman, Shulman had taken the first stab at adapting a screenplay based on his original work. However, the studio was unhappy with it and hired another writer, Claude Binyon, to rework the material. Upset, Shulman walked away and had nothing more to do with the film. It would be just a short time later that Max Shulman and Dwayne Hickman crossed paths again since Shulman was also the creator of the Dobie Gillis stories that would make Hickman a household name on television.
The set of Rally was predominantly happy, even though it seemed clear to many that director Leo McCarey was perhaps a little past his prime. McCarey, an accomplished and beloved director, according to Joan Collins, "was old, seemingly feeble, and had lost the zest and comic flair which had flourished in the thirties." Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward had trouble finding their way in the unfamiliar territory of comedy under McCarey's direction, though they tried their best. "This was my first crack at comedy," recalled Newman in Shawn Levy's 2009 biography Paul Newman: A Life. "I wasn't comfortable enough so that I could relax in it. As a result, I overplayed a lot of things." Woodward's appraisal of her work in the film wasn't much different. "When I wasn't playing small," she said, "I was busy making faces. I loathed myself in it."
Even though Newman, Woodward and Collins weren't quite on the same page with McCarey's approach to Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys!, they still managed to have some good laughs along the way. The scene in which Angela tries to teach Harry to dance the cha-cha while drunk was a particularly memorable experience for Collins. "We had to laugh all day--take after take--from dawn till dusk," said Collins. "Mascara ran endlessly down my cheeks, and it got so that just the sight of each other would set us off...We became so carried away that we couldn't stop even when we sat on canvas chairs between takes and tried to be coherent. It was catching. The crew were laughing helplessly too. Everyone was having a wonderful time."
While Rally didn't turn out to be the commercial success that everyone hoped for, it still received plenty of reviews that singled out the fresh comic efforts of Woodward and Newman as well as newcomer Collins. "Newman sustains a couple of first-rate scenes of slapstick seduction," said Time magazine, "and Collins is a comic siren with plenty of oogah." The New York Times said, "Miss Woodward makes a cheerful farceuse, on the order of the late Carole Lombard, and Mr. Newman plays it broadly for howls."
Producer: Leo McCarey
Director: Leo McCarey
Screenplay: Claude Binyon, Leo McCarey; Max Shulman (novel); George Axelrod (uncredited)
Cinematography: Leon Shamroy
Art Direction: Leland Fuller, Lyle R. Wheeler
Music: Cyril J. Mockridge
Film Editing: Louis R. Loeffler
Cast: Paul Newman (Harry Bannerman), Joanne Woodward (Grace Oglethorpe Bannerman), Joan Collins (Angela Hoffa), Jack Carson (Capt. Hoxie), Dwayne Hickman (Grady Metcalf, Comfort's suitor), Tuesday Weld (Comfort Goodpasture), Gale Gordon (Brig. Gen. W.A. Thorwald), Tom Gilson (Corporal Opie), O.Z. Whitehead (Isaac Goodpasture, Comfort's Father).
by Andrea Passafiume
Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys!
Rally Round the Flag, Boys! -
Rally Round the Flag, Boys! takes place in the small community of Putnam's Landing, Connecticut, a town whose founder was scalped the day after its founding and whose scalping remains, according to narration by then unknown David Hedison, the last interesting thing that happened there. Until, of course, the military buys up some land and wants to use it for a missile base. That sends the town into action the only way the town knows how to go into action: form a committee and then form a women's version of said committee, chaired by Grace Bannerman (Joanne Woodward), wife of Harry Bannerman (Paul Newman), the one man in town who can't seem to get any time alone with his wife. When she, as head of the new committee to keep the military out, appoints Harry to go to Washington on the one day they were going to be together, neighborhood vixen Angela Hoffa (Joan Collins) sees the opportunity to go to Washington herself and keep Harry company, leading to the kind of mix-ups and misunderstandings one would expect from a thirties screwball comedy. Speaking of which...
Leo McCarey, directed of several screwball comedies including one of the greatest ever, The Awful Truth, was brought on to direct in the hopes of bringing some of his screwball expertise to the proceedings. Certainly the plot lends itself to his talents but the dialogue-heavy comedy worked against it. Many of the scenes in the movie (Harry and Angela driving home or sitting on her sofa, Harry and Grace arguing in their kitchen, Angela and Captain Hoxie (Jack Carson) sitting at a bar) involve stationary action and dialogue, not something McCarey seemed entirely comfortable filming. Despite not being adapted from the play, the movie oddly has the same feel, with long takes that work against the idea of frenetic screwball pacing.
Still, to its credit, Rally Round the Flag, Boys! is filled with talent. Paul Newman had the year of his early career in 1958, with The Long Hot Summer and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof being released earlier in the year. Newman, by the time of Rally Round the Flag, Boys!, had become a Hollywood sensation and his legendary status had begun. In just three years, he would take on the role that would eventually win him an Oscar, Fast Eddie Felson in The Hustler (the Oscar came for the sequel, The Color of Money.
Joanne Woodward was already an Oscar winner by the time of the movie's release thanks to her performance in The Three Faces of Eve the year before. She and Paul Newman would stay married until his death and make several more movies together, the last being Mr and Mrs Bridge in 1990, for which Woodward received another nomination for Best Actress. Newman also directed Woodward on several more occasions.
Rounding out the cast are Jack Carson and Joan Collins. Carson had worked with Newman earlier in the year on the classic production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof but here was playing strictly for laughs. Carson was one of the best character actors in all of Hollywood and also one of its best comedians. His drunken scenes at the bar with Collins are some of the funniest in the movie. And Collins, who wouldn't really come into her own until television finally figured out how to use her in the eighties, does a fine job handling both the duties of straight man and seductive vamp. Comedy was an area she definitely should have been used in more with better results.
Rally Round the Flag, Boys! doesn't stand out as one of Leo McCarey's best efforts, nor does it for Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, but it does offer up more than enough to make it worth the time. The talent certainly does the job but the script also lets loose more than a few sharp, witty observations about small town life and the American way. It's satire-lite, pleasant and diverting but still potent enough to hit the target hard when it wants to and rally the audience around the movie.
By Greg Ferrara
Rally Round the Flag, Boys! -
TCM Remembers Paul Newman (1925-2008) - Important Schedule Change for Paul Newman Tribute
Sunday, October 12
Sunday, October 12 Program for TCM
6:00 AM The Rack
8:00 AM Until They Sail
10:00 AM Torn Curtain
12:15 PM Exodus
3:45 PM Sweet Bird of Youth
6:00 PM Hud
8:00 PM Somebody Up There Likes Me
10:00 PM Cool Hand Luke
12:15 AM Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
2:15 AM Rachel, Rachel
4:00 AM The Outrage
TCM Remembers Paul Newman (1925-2008)
Paul Newman, with his electric blue eyes and gutsy willingness to play anti-heroes, established himself as one of the movies' great leading men before settling into his latter-day career of flinty character acting. Born in Shaker Heights, Ohio, in 1925, Newman studied at the Yale Drama School and New York's Actors Studio before making his Broadway debut in Picnic.
Newman's breakthrough in films came in Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), in which he played boxer Rocky Graziano. He quickly reinforced his reputation in such vehicles as The Rack (1956) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), for which he won the first of nine Oscar® nominations as an actor.
In 1958, while shooting The Long Hot Summer (1958) - which earned him the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival - in Louisiana, he became re-acquainted with Joanne Woodward, who was the film's female lead. The two soon fell in love, and after divorcing Jackie, Newman and Woodward were married in Las Vegas in 1958. The couple appeared in numerous films together and had three daughters, which they raised far from Hollywood in the affluent neighborhood of Westport, CT.
The 1960s was a fruitful decade for Newman, who starred in such hits as Exodus (1960), Sweet Bird of Youth (1962) and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969); and scored Oscar® nominations for The Hustler (1961), Hud (1963) and Cool Hand Luke (1967).
Newman's political activism also came to the forefront during the sixties, through tireless campaigning for Eugene McCarthy's 1968 presidential campaign. His association with McCarthy led to his being named on future President Richard Nixon's infamous "Opponents List;" Newman, who ranked #19 out of 20, later commented that his inclusion was among the proudest achievements of his career.
Newman's superstar status - he was the top-ranking box office star in 1969 and 1970 - allowed him to experiment with film roles during the 1970s, which led to quirky choices like WUSA (1970), Sometimes a Great Notion (1971), Pocket Money (1972), and The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972) - all of which he also produced through First Artists, a company he established with fellow stars Sidney Poitier and Barbra Streisand.
After coming close to winning an Oscar® for Absence of Malice (1981), Newman finally won the award itself for The Color of Money (1986). He also received an honorary Oscar® in 1986 and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1994. A producer and director as well as an actor, Newman has directed his wife (and frequent costar) Joanne Woodward through some of her most effective screen performances [Rachel, Rachel (1968), The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1972)].
He remained active as an actor in his later years, playing the Stage Manager in Our Town on both stage and television, lending his voice to the animated features Cars (2006) and Mater and the Ghostlight (2006). Off-screen, Newman set the standard for celebrity-driven charities with his Newman's Own brand of foods, which brought $200 million to causes, and the Hole in the Wall Gang camp for seriously ill children.
TCM Remembers Paul Newman (1925-2008) - Important Schedule Change for Paul Newman Tribute Sunday, October 12
The film's title card reads, "Leo McCarey's Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys." The picture begins with the following voice-over narration: "This is the village of Putnam Landing. Located some fifty miles North of New York City on Long Island Sound, rich in history and tradition, Putnam's Landing was founded in 1628 by one Samuel Putnam. There is very little to be said about Samuel Putnam, as the day he landed he was scalped. It was the last really interesting thing that happened in Putnam's Landing for more than three hundred years. This is the crack commuting train. The 5:29 from Grand Central makes its run in an hour and ten minutes. These are the happy commuters. In the last five years, these contented country dwellers have made 1,250 round trips. That means they have each wasted a total of 2,920 and 2/3 man hours aboard this train." The narration is spoken over a montage of images of Putnam's Landing, ending with the bored faces of the men on the communter train as they congregate in the raucous bar car. Although the Variety review lists Gale Gordon's character as "Col. Thorwald," he is called "General" in the film.
Hollywood Reporter news items yield the following information about the film: Jack Carson replaced Paul Douglas as "Capt. Hoxie" after Douglas fell ill, according to a July 1958 item. A July 1957 item stated that Max Shulman was preparing a screen treatment based on his novel. A March 1958 item notes that the studio was negotiating with Richard Widmark for a top comedy role in the picture, and a June 1958 item states that Mickey Shaughnessey was set for a featured role. Schaughnessy does not appear in the released film, however, A Daily Variety news item adds that in March 1958, Buddy Adler was set to produce the film and was considering Frank Sinatra, Deborah Kerr and William Holden to star.
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward married prior to the production of this picture. Although the film shows "Hoxie" and "Leo" being shot into space, in reality, the first chimp flight into space took place in January 1961. On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard piloted the first manned space flight. Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! marked the screen debut of Jack Ging.
Released in United States Winter December 1958
Released in United States Winter December 1958