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Friday, June 6, 2008

RALLY ‘ROUND THE FLAG, BOYS (1958)


Late ‘50s suburban farce is loosely structured in the preferred style of writer/helmer Leo McCarey. This does wonders to relax Paul Newman’s usual comic overselling, but not so much for Max Shulman’s observational satire. Newman’s wife, Joanne Woodward, plays . . . er, Newman’s wife, an overactive community booster with no time for conjugal bliss. Joan Collins, in her best screen perf, is the sexy neighbor whose hubby is always out of town. She’s after Newman and gets her shot when Joanne sends Paul off to Wash, D.C. to try and stop a Top Secret military project under construction right in their own home town. (It’s a rocket launching site! That's sure to stay under wraps once it's up & running.) The comic shenanigans come & go with small effect and blessedly little push which gives the film the distinctive, if inexplicable charm which was McCarey’s special gift. It’s his penultimate film and you can feel that his career is winding down, yet he remains sui generis . . . and essential.

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