Classic movie site with rare images (no web grabs!), original ads, and behind-the-scenes photos, with informative and insightful commentary. We like to have fun with movies!
Archive and Links
grbrpix@aol.com
Search Index Here




Friday, December 12, 2014

Perils Of A Peacetime Draft


The Girl He Left Behind (1956) Again Teams Tab and Nat

Pampered Tab Hunter drafted into the peacetime army after college grades slip. So staying in school was how to stay out of uniform in 1956? The device would work, at least for a while, into the Vietnam era. 50's conscription hung over boys through latter part of that decade, this after threat Korea had posed. Even Elvis got the compulsory invite. Being no war was on, Tab has to show mettle saving pals from errant grenades and maneuvers gone wrong. He's a wiseacre no real army would have tolerated, insolent to officers and going roughshod over drill instructors. Jack Webb in a following year's The D.I. would have had him busted out before end of a first reel. So The Girl He Left Behind must be a comedy, as pressed by narrating Daws Butler, who I'll bet was added to cue laughs not otherwise forthcoming. Underlying story, but not the script, was by Marion Hargrove, who'd done close to a same thing for MGM during WWII. Cooperation was Army-extended, Fort Ord a location site. Tab Hunter plays surly against dream teen grain in anticipation of good work he'd do in Gunman's Walk, Natalie Wood in thankless title role. These two were what love teaming had come to at Warners by 1956.


Jack Warner told director David Butler to pick a young cast "from stock" and weed out ones that didn't click. Salary to these was $75-150 per week, so risk was slight. Butler preferred new-signed James Garner to Hunter for a lead, but J.L. was sold on another Tab-Nat to follow The Burning Hills. Garner plainly had presence the star lacked. I wonder if his part might have been shaved to protect Hunter, as was Martha Vickers in deference to less exciting Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep. Eagle eyes may spot other hopefuls in khaki; one I noted was future Fly-head model Brett Halsey. Again on Jack Webb topic, I wonder if his D.I. was part-riposte to service insult that was The Girl He Left Behind. Both addressed peacetime defense after singular fashion, Webb's being at least his idea of semi-doc treatment. Each now play like off-rail time capsules, which doesn't in any way reduce their fun potential.


The cloudy image at left, from going-on sixty years ago, is Tab Hunter and Natalie Wood at peak of shared fame, appearing with The Burning Hills at the Chicago theatre, from which fire escape they greeted  "teener" throng. The Girl He Left Behind would open at the Windy City's State-Lake a few months later to "shaky" boxoffice, taking half in its second week of what Giant realized in an eighth at the Chicago Theatre. Elvis and Love Me Tender was trumping Tab-Nat at the Oriental. Overall for The Girl He Left Behind showed less than half of profit realized by The Burning Hills, WB wrapping the Hunter-Wood parlays with these. Competition for teen allowance had become fierce by late '56. Along with new-arrived Elvis and what footage was left of James Dean, there were rock and roll pics by increased number and cheap chillers aimed downwind to kids (that same Chicago week saw Curucu, Beast Of The Amazon and The Mole People also licking The Girl He Left Behind). As with The Burning Hills, WB sold Girl with sex emphasis, "The Boy With The Barracks Bag and The Girl With The Overnight Case," though here it's inferred that the couple do spend a night together, judging by a hotel room embrace that dissolves to the pair drinking orange juice a next morning, that device borrowed from The Caine Mutiny of a couple years before. Warner Archive has The Girl He Left Behind available on DVD.

1 Comments:

Blogger rnigma said...

Warners would make further use of Marion Hargrove in some of the better episodes of "Maverick," as well as the screen adaptation of Meredith Willson's "The Music Man" - Harold Hill and Bret Maverick did have some similarities after all.

8:45 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

grbrpix@aol.com
  • December 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • July 2006
  • August 2006
  • September 2006
  • October 2006
  • November 2006
  • December 2006
  • January 2007
  • February 2007
  • March 2007
  • April 2007
  • May 2007
  • June 2007
  • July 2007
  • August 2007
  • September 2007
  • October 2007
  • November 2007
  • December 2007
  • January 2008
  • February 2008
  • March 2008
  • April 2008
  • May 2008
  • June 2008
  • July 2008
  • August 2008
  • September 2008
  • October 2008
  • November 2008
  • December 2008
  • January 2009
  • February 2009
  • March 2009
  • April 2009
  • May 2009
  • June 2009
  • July 2009
  • August 2009
  • September 2009
  • October 2009
  • November 2009
  • December 2009
  • January 2010
  • February 2010
  • March 2010
  • April 2010
  • May 2010
  • June 2010
  • July 2010
  • August 2010
  • September 2010
  • October 2010
  • November 2010
  • December 2010
  • January 2011
  • February 2011
  • March 2011
  • April 2011
  • May 2011
  • June 2011
  • July 2011
  • August 2011
  • September 2011
  • October 2011
  • November 2011
  • December 2011
  • January 2012
  • February 2012
  • March 2012
  • April 2012
  • May 2012
  • June 2012
  • July 2012
  • August 2012
  • September 2012
  • October 2012
  • November 2012
  • December 2012
  • January 2013
  • February 2013
  • March 2013
  • April 2013
  • May 2013
  • June 2013
  • July 2013
  • August 2013
  • September 2013
  • October 2013
  • November 2013
  • December 2013
  • January 2014
  • February 2014
  • March 2014
  • April 2014
  • May 2014
  • June 2014
  • July 2014
  • August 2014
  • September 2014
  • October 2014
  • November 2014
  • December 2014
  • January 2015
  • February 2015
  • March 2015
  • April 2015
  • May 2015
  • June 2015
  • July 2015
  • August 2015
  • September 2015
  • October 2015
  • November 2015
  • December 2015
  • January 2016
  • February 2016
  • March 2016
  • April 2016
  • May 2016
  • June 2016
  • July 2016
  • August 2016
  • September 2016