Steve McQueen and Jackie Gleason were buddies in this 1963 comedy film
Soldier in the Rain official movie poster distributed by Allied Artists (1963)
When a Western legend and a comedic icon come together for a film, there's a lot you should expect. We've seen Steve McQueen outside of his role as Josh Randall on Wanted: Dead or Alive, and we know Jackie Gleason is more than just his character Ralph Kramden on The Honeymooners.
Both actors brought something unique to the worlds of film and television, so we're not surprised they got the chance to work together in a 1963 film. Soldier in the Rain is an American comedy-buddy film, you know, the kind of film that shows why "you can't have one without the other."
Steve McQueen played Sergeant Eustis Clay, an impatient guy counting down the days of finishing his peacetime service and moving on to finer things. He was into schemes and scams that often resulted in trouble, and that's where Jackie Gleason's character comes in.
Gleason played Master Sergeant Maxwell Slaughter, an intelligent guy with a good head on his shoulders. He was much brighter than Clay, but he enjoyed his company, although that company inconvenienced him several times. Slaughter is connected to all the perks and supply sources an army base can provide.
Yet, Clay felt there was something Slaughter was missing in his life: a regular civilian experience. He sets the master sergeant up on a date with a much younger woman with a personality opposite to his, Bobby Jo Pepperdine, played by Tuesday Weld.
Adam West also briefly appeared as inspecting captian. A lot more happens in this hour-and-a-half movie, but we don't want to spoil it too much for those who haven't seen it.
The movie was released on November 27, 1963, just a few days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which many people believe is the reason why the audience was reduced. Despite the low views, many believe this film is an underrated gem.
There was no way to have Gleason in this film without McQueen. The two's acting styles complimented each other, and Tuesday Weld was also a stand-out.