by Miss Elliot
This movie is one of our family favorites. It’s down-to-earth and presents a real picture of marriage and family (which most movies today, sadly, do not). It shows the life of Lemuel (Lem) Siddons and how he influences a small town for good when he, although a newcomer, starts a boy scout troop and takes on the job of scoutmaster, in spite of many hardships and being somewhat of an outsider.
To start with the characters:
Lem Siddons (played by Fred MacMurray- the one in the hat, above) is a saxophonist in a traveling band who wants to be a lawyer someday. There isn’t much money, and he’s tired of the on-the-road life, so he tells his boss, who likes to read the astrology section of the newspapers, that the first honest job somebody offers him, he’s going to take it. That happens to be a job as a clerk in a small town called Hickory. While looking around in town, he catches a baseball for some boys playing in the square (ALERT: Never, ever do that unless you are quite sure no one is behind you) and steps on Vida Downey’s foot.
Vida Downey (Vera Miles) works at the First Hickory Bank. She’s polite and proper, and when Lem (or Mr. Siddons as she insists on calling him) steps on her foot she is a bit put out at his blunt ways (“I weigh one ninety-two minus shoes”). She’s almost snooty, but not as snooty as…
…yep, this guy. If there’s a villain in Follow Me, Boys, Ralph Hastings (Elliott Reid) is that villain. He’s sarcastic and money-grubbing and just plain mean. And his temperament doesn’t improve when Lem begins courting Vida after a hilarious scene with a raccoon, some hounds, and a broken-down car (okay, it was Lem, his scouts, and a broken-down car). Also, he bites his fingernails, and is constantly told not to by…
…his Aunt Hetty (Lillian Gish). She’s my favorite side character in the film. She’s rather forgetful, at least with some things (“Now where was I to go from here? Never mind, I’ll find out when I get there”), but she delivers some of the funniest lines of anybody in the movie (“Ralph, stop biting your fingernails. His mother used to put mustard on them when he was little.”) (“Young man, you are a popinjay.”) and is generally splendid.
Edward “Whitey” White (Kurt Russell) is the troubled son of a drunk. He loves his father, but is very sensitive and ready to pick a fight. Lem invites him to join the troop, but Whitey doesn’t trust Lem and keeps his tough guy persona.
Some side characters:
John Everett Hughes (Charles Ruggles) is Lem’s boss.
There are no pictures of any one else in this movie on the internet, but I am convinced that one of the adult first scouts is the actor who played Benjamin Pottipy in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers…
Oh yeah, and there’s this guy:
I don’t know his name in Follow Me, Boys, but… it’s Kurt (Duane Chase) in The Sound of Music.
After Lem becomes the scoutmaster, Vida sees him in a better light, especially since she was going to suggest boy scouts at the meeting…
Anyway, she also begins to see Lem’s honesty and frankness as good things, and she sees Ralph’s arrogance more and more.
And yes, they get married.
I think one of my favorite things about this movie is that neither of them are really glamorous or particularly good-looking (well, Vida kind of is) and they are a very realistic, normal couple. They are committed to each other, and they love each other very much.
I don’t want to spoil things, but there are some pretty funny and touching scenes- this one:
(it’s just war games!)
…and this one:
There are some “thematic elements” in this one: Whitey’s dad drinks and *SPOILER ALERT* there is a scene where Vida says that she can’t have children. It’s all very delicately handled. And besides these the movie is perfectly clean (unlike other movies I could mention, *coughcough*).
And here is the end of my first movie review. This is how I feel.
This was really fun and I enjoyed sharing my love of this movie with you!