Follow Me, Boys! DVD Review
|Follow Me, Boys!
Theatrical Release: December 1, 1966 / Running Time: 131 Minutes / Rating: G
Director: Norman Tokar
Cast: Fred MacMurray (Lemuel Siddons), Vera Miles (Vida Downey), Lillian Gish (Hetty Seibert), Kurt Russell (Whitey), Charles Ruggles (John Everett Hughes), Elliott Reid (Ralph Hastings), David Bailey (Duke), Luana Patten (Nora White)
Lemuel takes pride in his scoutmaster duties, and he also finds love in the way of Vida Downey (Vera Miles).
As the leading man, Fred MacMurray is both commanding and sweet. His screen presence makes the performance as an honorable man all the easier to like. Lem is a wise, knowing figure, very much a role model to the boys and the town's inhabitants, who do not have much screen time. Young Kurt Russell is endearing as Whitey, a local roughneck who joins the troop, and becomes like a son to Lem, in a number of ways. This is the first of ten Disney films which Russell would appear in over the next ten years.
In the last 50 minutes, the film takes a few misturns as it jumps ahead in years. There's a 15-minute war subplot which could probably be removed altogether, and then a legal subplot, in which Lem gets to stretch his muscles as a lawyer, which he had been studying to be, but put off to devote his time to the scouts. In these later sequences, Lemuel seems to age, but his wife Vida does not. Former Disney child star Luana Patten (Song of the South, So Dear to My Heart) turns up in a modest supporting role late in the film, her last for the studio.)
There will be those who find the film to be overly sentimental or clichιd, and those complaints were readily launched by critics when it was released. This reviewer does not feel that this film merits those adjectives, at least not to a fault. While it may not sound like a plot that constantly advances itself, Follow Me, Boys! is a delightful film. Though it doesn't stray very much (or at all) from the Disney formula elements of family dramas and town interests, the film is successful in its depiction. It is a good example of a '60s Disney film that works, and the majority of this class did.
VIDEO and AUDIO
Picture quality is a bit disappointing. For starters, the film is presented only in Fullscreen. While it's certainly not a Cinemascope production, some of the framing does suggest that it was widescreen for theatrical exhibitions. The loss of picture is annoying and Disney's inability to remain faithful to the film's original aspect ratio is troubling in principle.
However, the film appears to be in need of some better restoration work. A number of flaws plague the print; artifacts and scratches turn up, in great excess at times. Compared to other '60s catalogue titles, Follow Me, Boys! doesn't look nearly as good as those remastered for Vault Disney presentation, but it isn't quite as bad as some of the other no-frills catalogue releases.
The audio is pretty unremarkable. The film is presented in Mono, the format it was created in. There aren't any specific problems to point out with the soundtrack. It's not particularly filled with life, but then neither are most of the Vault Disney/Special Edition 5.1 remixes. That Disney preserves its original sound mix is satisfying.
There is the Follow Me, Boys! Gallery, which contains 21 frames of promotional stills, lobby cards, and posters from the film's two theatrical releases.
"Looking Back with Lem's Boys" runs 11 minutes and 30 seconds. Four of the young cast members reminisce about their experiences of filming Follow Me, Boys!. It's pretty interesting to catch up with these actors all these years later and watch them recall the making of the movie. None of the four really had any further film roles. Kurt Russell does not appear, unfortunately.
These extras are a nice touch, and the little bit of effort that went into them distinguishes this release from past catalogue waves, which were, by and large, completely without bonus.
Follow Me, Boys! is one of the many live action Disney films that I knew only by name. Having seen it, I found it to be a rather enjoyable movie. The DVD presentation is all we can expect for now. The lack of a widescreen presentation is troubling, though not particularly unexpected from Disney. The two bonus features included are a nice touch, but one wishes a little more effort went into improving the video quality. Fans of this film should be glad to have it on DVD. Those unfamiliar with the movie (the great majority, I'm sure) are encouraged to at least give it a rent. I don't think you'll be disappointed by it, although you may wish to wait for a $5 price drop that should be coming eventually.
UltimateDisney.com | Review Index | Old Live Action (Pre-1980) Films Page
Other '60s Films Reviewed:
Those Calloways (1965) | The Love Bug (1969) | Monkeys, Go Home! (1967)
Blackbeard's Ghost (1968) | The Sword in the Stone (1963)
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