Follow Me, Boys!
|Follow Me, Boys!|
|Directed by||Norman Tokar|
|Produced by||Walt Disney
|Written by||Louis Pelletier|
|Music by||George Bruns
Richard M. Sherman
Robert B. Sherman
|Edited by||Robert Stafford|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Distribution|
Follow Me, Boys! is a 1966 family film produced by Walt Disney Productions. It is an adaptation of the 1954 book God and My Country by MacKinlay Kantor and is notable for being the final live action film produced by Walt Disney, which was released two weeks before his death.
The film stars Fred MacMurray, Vera Miles, Lillian Gish, Charles Ruggles and Kurt Russell, and is co-produced by Walt Disney and Winston Hibler, directed by Norman Tokar and written by Louis Pelletier.
The film is notable for being one of the few movies that features the Boy Scouts of America and is Disney's paean to the Boy Scouts. The title song "Follow Me, Boys!" was written by studio favorites Robert and Richard Sherman. For a time, after the film was released, the Boy Scouts of America was considering using the song as their anthem, but efforts toward this end were eventually dropped. Boys' Life for December 1966 included a teaser article on the film.
Follow Me, Boys! was the first of ten Disney films in which Kurt Russell would appear over the next ten years. A DVD version was released on February 3, 2004 by Walt Disney Home Entertainment, although it is in 4:3 pan and scan format, not the original 1.66:1 wide screen aspect ratio.
In 1930, Lemuel "Lem" Siddons (Fred MacMurray) is a saxophonist in a traveling band who dreams of becoming a lawyer. When the band's bus reaches the small town of Hickory, Lem suddenly decides to leave the band and settle down, finding a job as a clerk in the general store owned by John Everett Hughes (Charlie Ruggles). At the town civic meeting, Lem notices Vida Downey (Vera Miles), a bank teller whom Lem attempts to woo away from her lover Ralph Hastings (Elliott Reid). Lem crosses off the YMCA and the 4-H from Vida's list of three possible organizations to keep the town's boys off the streets, leaving only the Boy Scouts, and volunteers to become Scoutmaster of the newly formed Troop 1.
One year later, Lem becomes an all-around natural leader with the Scout troop, even putting his plans to become a lawyer aside as he helps the town's boys mature into men. Meanwhile, the town's troublemaker boy Edward "Whitey" White, Jr. (Kurt Russell) refuses to join the troop. One night, while Lem and Vida are on a date, they catch Whitey shoplifting from Hughes' store. Startled, Whitey falls and sprains his ankle, which Lem bandages using the techniques provided in the Boy Scout Handbook. Impressed by Lem's work, Whitey secretly steals the book, which Lem allows because he sees his past self reflected in Whitey. One night, Lem invites Whitey's father, Edward, Sr. (Sean McClory), to attend parent's night at the Boy Scouts' meeting place located the lake property of Hetty Seibert (Lillian Gish). Edward arrives drunk and embarrasses Whitey, causing him to quit the troop. However, Edward later dies that night of alcohol poisoning, leaving Lem and Vida to adopt Whitey.
In 1944, Lem is accidentally captured by the United States Army, who are playing a war game in the area near the lake. Lem is taken for a spy due to his Scouting equipment and is unable to prove he is a Scoutmaster after the military captain asks Lem to tie a sheepshank, the only knot Lem never learned. Across the lake, Troop 1 fires their morning canon, accidentally signaling the military to playfully attack the boys. The scouts take shelter in a staged base and successfully capture a tank with explosive squibs, meant to resemble land mines, thus freeing Lem from the captivity of the embarrassed military.
Back at the lake, Lem and the troop discover that Ralph is taking Hetty to court over the lake property, since he believes it belongs to him. Lem is hired as Hetty's lawyer. He questions her on the stand, revealing that the property was once the location of her family cottage before it burned down in September 1918, two days after she learned that her sons were killed in France. Hetty states that she allowed the troop to meet there as the boys reminded her of her late sons at play. Ultimately, Hetty wins the case and Lem is allowed to keep the property.
On September 1, 1945, Lem and Vida celebrate Hughes' birthday by listening to Harry S. Truman announce the end of the war over the radio. Whitey, who became a captain in the army, returns to Hickory to introduce Lem and Vida to his wife, Nora, an army nurse. In 1950, Hughes passes away, leaving the store to both Lem and Vida. Meanwhile, due to Lem's health, the Scout committee forces Lem to retire as Scoutmaster. In appreciation for his two decades of service, the entire town gives Lem a surprise celebration on October 2, 1950, with both current and former members of Troop 1 in attendance for the dedication of Hetty's property as Camp Siddons in honor of Lem.
- Fred MacMurray — Lemuel "Lem" Siddons
- Vera Miles — Vida Downey
- Lillian Gish — Hetty Seibert
- Charlie Ruggles — John Everett Hughes
- Sean McClory — Edward White, Sr.
- Kurt Russell — Edward "Whitey" White, Jr.
- Donald May — Edward "Whitey" White, Jr., as an adult
- Luana Patten — Nora White
- Elliott Reid — Ralph Hastings
- John Zaremba — Ralph Hasting's lawyer
- Ken Murray — Melody Murphy
- Parley Baer — Mayor Hi Plommer
- Steve Franken - P.O.W. Lieutenant
- William Reynolds — Hoodoo Henderson (adult)
- David Bailey — Duke
- Madge Blake — Cora Anderson
- Billy Booth — Leo
- Ronnie Dapo — Virgil "Tiger" Higgins
- Ricky Kelman — Frankie Martin
- Richard Bakalyan — Army War-Game Officer
- Michael Mason – Boy Scout in War Games
- Dean Moray – Hoodoo Henderson (child)
- Jimmy Murphy – P.O.W. Soldier
- Eddie Sallia – Harry
- Keith Taylor – Beefy Smith
- Adam Williams — P.O.W. Sergeant
- John Larroquette — Army Soldier in War Games (uncredited)
- Duane Chase — Troop 1 Boy Scout - shown firing cannon at boy scout cabin scene (listed in the movie)
This was Ruggles last feature film. He has a small but critical role in the film. He was age 80 when this picture was made, and did only television work afterwards, until his death in 1970.
The film was popular, earning $5,350,000 in North American rentals in 1967.
- "Follow Me, Boys!, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved April 16, 2012.
- Chick Coombs (December 1966). Boys Life: Lights! Cameras! Boom!. Boy Scouts of America. p. 16. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
- The date actually fell on Monday, not on Saturday as depicted in the film.
- "Lem Siddons Day Activities Announced". Retrieved October 28, 2011.
- "Plot Summary for 'Follow Me, Boys!'". Retrieved November 4, 2012.
- "Big Rental Films of 1967", Variety, January 3, 1968, p 25. These figures refer to rentals accruing to the film distributors.