Soldier in the RainAirs Sunday, December 30 at 4:00 PM Soldier in the Rain is a 1963 American comedy-drama film starring Jackie Gleason and Steve McQueen. Produced and co-written by Blake Edwards, the screenplay is based on a 1960 novel by William Goldman. The film was directed by Ralph Nelson. It concerns the friendship between an aging Army Master Sergeant (Gleason) and a young country bumpkin buck sergeant (McQueen). Tuesday Weld also stars.
The film was released five days after President John F. Kennedy's assassination, which didn't help its box office take.
Sergeant Eustis Clay (McQueen) is a peacetime soldier who can't wait to finish his service and move on to bigger, better things. He is a personal favorite of Master Sergeant Maxwell Slaughter (Gleason), a military lifer who is considerably brighter than Eustis but enjoys his company and loyalty.
Eustis is involved in a number of schemes and scams, including one in which he will sell tickets to see an equally dim private named Meltzer (Tony Bill) run a three-minute mile. He inconveniences Slaughter more than once, including a traffic mishap that requires him being bailed out of jail.
Determined to tempt Slaughter with the joys of civilian life before his hitch is up, Eustis fixes him up on a date with the much-younger, not too bright Bobbi Jo Pepperdine (Weld). At first Slaughter is offended but gradually he sees another side of Bobbi Jo, including a mutual fondness for crossword puzzles. Eustis and Slaughter golf together and begin to enjoy the good life.
One night, Eustis is devastated to learn of the death of Donald, his dog. A pair of hated rivals use their status as Military Policemen to lure Eustis into a barroom brawl. He is beaten two-against-one and is nearly defeated when Slaughter angrily comes to his rescue. Together they win the fight, but the middle-aged, overweight Slaughter collapses from the effort.
Hospitalized, he delights Eustis by suggesting that they leave the Army together and go live on a tropical isle, surrounded by blue seas and beautiful girls. Slaughter dies, however, and Eustis, a changed man, re-enlists in the Army for another hitch.