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Soldier In The Rain Proved Steve McQueen Wasn't Made For Comedy

soldier in the rain poster 1963

Soldier In The Rain is a 1963 comedy that proved the genre wasn't quite Steve McQueen's specialty. Steve McQueen's first leading role was the famous 1958 b-movie The Blob, where he plays a teenager trying to save his small hometown from a gelatinous monster. The part that arguably made him a star was TV series Wanted: Dead Or Alive, a western that cast him as a tough bounty hunter. His movie break came thanks to classic western The Magnificent Seven, alongside Yul Brynner and Charles Bronson.

From there, his rise became unstoppable, and he made a run of fantastic movies like The Great Escape, The Thomas Crown Affair, Bullitt, and many others. Following his role in all-star disaster epic The Towering Inferno in 1974, McQueen stepped away from movies for a few years, with the final movie before his death in 1980 being The Hunter, which cast him as another bounty hunter. He was also recently portrayed by Damian Lewis in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.

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Related: Return Of The Magnificent Seven Kicked Off Hollywood's Sequel Obsession

Steve McQueen was known as the "King of Cool" thanks to his unflappable screen persona, and most of his hit movies like The Getaway saw him either driving fast cars or firing guns. He appeared in all kinds of projects during his career, from action to dramas and comedy - though the latter genre he rarely visited. This might be the result of co-starring in Soldier In The Rain opposite Jackie Gleason.

soldier in the rain jackie gleason

Soldier In The Rain is based on the novel by William Goldman (The Princess Bride) and was partly inspired by his time in the U.S. Army. The movie stars McQueen as Clay, a slightly dimwitted Sergeant who befriends Master Sergeant Slaughter (Gleason). The duo forms an unlikely friendship, with Clay trying to tempt the Master Sergeant out of the Army, and they both become involved in various schemes.

While McQueen isn't exactly bad in the role, he seems more comfortable with the dramatic side of the story than the comedy. In fact, Soldier In The Rain typically works best when it focuses on the friendship between Clay and Slaughter as the mix between comedy and drama never quite gels. The movie didn't prove to be much of a critical or commercial success either, but the latter is more likely the result of the film opening mere days after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Outside of 1969's comic drama The Reivers, Steve McQueen tended to avoid comic roles following Soldier In The Rain and sought out characters that played to the persona audiences knew him best for.

Next: The True Story Behind Damian Lewis' Once Upon A Time In Hollywood Cameo

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