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A Classic and A Period Piece
4 October 2001
Those who acquired a taste for 1920s Berlin in 'Cabaret' ought to see this film inasmuch as it is the real thing. Lotte Lenya (Weill's wife in real life and the actress who played the evil Rosa Kleb in 'From Russia With Love') and Carola Neher (fled Hitler for the Soviet Union then betrayed by communism -- she died in a communist prison camp in 1942) each offer an unforgettable singing performance. Carola Neher's song alone is worth the price of admission -- she outclasses even Dietrich.
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A B-movie masterpiece
6 March 2001
I saw this movie in the basement movie studio of Ytterboe Hall (my freshman college dorm -- alas now only a memory) when it came out 37 years ago. After I got married and settled down, I started scanning the television listings regularly for it. After 20 years, one of the channels started showing it in the wee hours so I managed to tape it. 'Advance To The Rear' is a rare gem.

This movie was made during the short but glorious window of cultural innocence (between R & B and the Rolling Stones) when folk music was as popular as rock. The music is by Randy Sparks and sung by his New Christy Minstrals. The song 'Today' is from this movie.

Stella Stevens, as the Confederate spy, is gorgeous beyond description. Glen Ford plays the bemused hero trying to do things by the book admidst a collection of misfits ('We're a company of cowards and we've come to save the day.'). Jim Backus ('Gilligan's Island' and the voice of Mr. Magoo) leads a familiar cast of veteran supporting actors and actresses of the era. Did I mention that Stella Stevens is good looking?

'Advance To The Rear' is a B-movie masterpiece. One of those rare examples of everything coming together perfectly. For those of us who remember the era, it is also very evocative -- perhaps more so than any other movie of its time. It would be nice if whoever has the rights would release it, my VHS tape is getting a little flaky. By the way, they made an LP of the sound track. Now that be a major garage sale find.
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