Advance to the Rear

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"You've met the Rat Pack... now... meet the Mouse Pack!"
  • Approved
  • 1964
  • 1 hr 40 min
  • 5.9  (886)

Advance to the Rear is a 1964 American Western comedy film directed by George Marshall and starring Glenn Ford, Stella Stevens, and Melvyn Douglas. Set in 1862 during the American Civil War, the movie follows a motley crew of misfits who are tasked with protecting a Confederate railroad depot from falling into Union hands. The film opens with Colonel Claude Brackenbury (Melvyn Douglas) receiving orders to form a special unit composed of the army's most undesirables, including chronic gamblers, drunks, and troublemakers. The unit is called the "Rear Guard," and their mission is to protect a vital Confederate supply line. Despite the odds, Brackenbury is determined to whip his ragtag crew into shape and turn them into soldiers.

Among the soldiers are one-eyed veteran Sergeant Beauregard Davis (Jim Backus), enthusiastic new recruit Private Owen Selous (Glenn Ford), and sultry Southern belle Martha Lou (Stella Stevens). They are joined by a con artist played by Jesse Pearson, who poses as a doctor to avoid the draft.

As the Rear Guard makes their way to their new assignment, they encounter various obstacles, including a band of Union soldiers led by an Indian-hating captain (Joan Freeman). Along the way, they are forced to rely on their wits and unconventional tactics to stay alive.

Once they reach the depot, the Rear Guard quickly realizes that they have their work cut out for them. Not only are they outnumbered and outgunned, but their commanding officer, Colonel Goodbody (Michael Pate), is more interested in alligator hunting than military strategy.

Despite these challenges, the Rear Guard manages to hold their ground and fend off multiple Union attacks. Along the way, they even manage to uncover a Confederate traitor in their midst.

Throughout the film, Ford provides much of the comedic relief, playing his character with a sense of earnestness that makes him endearing to both the audience and his fellow soldiers. Stevens is equally entertaining as the Southern belle who knows how to use her feminine wiles to get what she wants.

Melvyn Douglas gives a strong performance as the strict, no-nonsense leader who is unafraid to lay down the law when necessary. The chemistry between the three leads is a highlight of the movie, and their banter and interactions provide many of the film's funniest moments.

While Advance to the Rear is primarily a lighthearted romp, it does touch on some serious themes, including race relations and the devastating effects of war. The film's climax, in particular, is surprisingly poignant and serves as a reminder of the human cost of conflict.

Overall, Advance to the Rear is an enjoyable, if somewhat overlooked, entry in the Western comedy canon. With a cast of talented actors and a witty script, it remains a charming and entertaining film over 50 years after its initial release.

Advance to the Rear is a 1964 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 40 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 5.9.

Advance to the Rear
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 40 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    5.9  (886)