Saturday, September 7, 2013

Follow Me, Boys! (1966)

Over the hill travelling musician (Fred MacMurray) feels he needs to give up his vagabond life and set roots. When the band makes a quick stop in a small town, he makes the impulsive decision to stay. In order to impress the hot bank employee (Vera Miles) he steals her idea to form a Boy Scout troop to keep the youth from mischief. In doing so, he becomes the town's first scoutmaster.

What follows are various heartwarming stories about his trials and tribulations with the boys and in love. I woke refreshed two hours later.

I've been a scout leader for many years, and this is the first on a short list of feel-good Scout movies. It was high time I watched it. I encouraged my three sons (no smart cracks, people!) to watch it, as they too have logged many hours in the scout community. They opted to skip this one. Good move.

It was a little awkward watching the pushing 60 MacMurray woo the much younger Miles (still living). As the story moved forward in years, they didn't need to age his character much. The elderly town millionaire-with-a-heart-of-gold was played by Lillian Gish, fifteen years Fred's senior. She would outlive him by two.

Many of the vignettes seemed unnecessary. I thought we were still in 1932 when the troop has an amusing run-in with the US military on training maneuvers. With Scoutmaster Lem captured as a member of the enemy team, the boys are left to their own devices. Here is a good place to shorten the movie. I was crying anachronism what with all the high tech army gear, but apparently this segment was set in the 40's.

Side stories include Scoutmaster Lem's wooing of the Miles character, the troubled son of the town drunk (Kurt Russell), the land grab, the mountain climbing controversy, all culminating with a parade.

High Disney production, mildly amusing melodrama, too long (two hours thirteen). As a scout leader, I need to have seen it. So, therefore, AMRU 3, and mission accomplished. Not too painful, but it should have been shorter and 60's Disney family dramady isn't exactly in my wheelhouse. Nice to see Lillian Gish in a soundie.
"Young man, you are a popinjay."

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