The Girl He Left Behind, The

David Butler directed The Girl He Left Behind, a military romantic comedy, starring Tab Hunter and Natalie Wood.

Tab Hunter and Natalie Wood had appeared in The Burning Hills together, and Warner was keen to build them into onscreen team. (They had always dated briefly, as Hunter was not out yet as an actor).

The supporting cast includes Jim Backus, Alan King, James Garner, and David Janssen.

For both Garner, who would become a major TV and movie star in the next decade, it was their third movie.

Hunter plays Andy Schaeffer, a spoiled mama’s boy who usually gets his way. He breezes through college, while girlfriend Susan Daniels (Wood) works hard to pay for her education. But she isn’t sure if their relationship has any future.

When Andy’s grades worsen, he’s drafted by the army. Andy reports for basic training at Fort Ord, but, clearly, he’d rather be anyplace else.

Marion Hargrove had a huge success with his book See Here Private Hargrove which sold 3,500,000 copies. Warner then inquired whether he would write a story about a draftee in the army in peacetime.

Hargrove agreed but wanted the story to be accurate, He arranged through Warners to undertake enlistment and some basic training at Fort Ord. The studio paid him to write the novel and retained only the screen rights.

The novel was published in 1956. Hargrove wanted to call it All Quiet in the Third Platoon, but Warners preferred The Girl He Left Behind.

Tab Hunter and Natalie Wood had appeared in The Burning Hills together, and Warner was keen to build them into onscreen team.

Much of the film was shot at Fort Ord and used real soldiers.

Tab Hunter as Private / Corporal Andy Schaeffer
Natalie Wood as Susan
Jessie Royce Landis as Mrs. Schaeffer
Jim Backus as Sergeant Hanna
Murray Hamilton as Sergeant Clyde
Henry Jones as Hanson
Alan King as Majors
James Garner as Preston
David Janssen as Captain Genaro


David Butler Filmography

High School Hero (1927)News Parade (1928)Win That Girl (1928)Prep and Pep (1928)Fox Movietone Follies of 1929 (1929)Chasing Through Europe (1929)High Society Blues (1930)Just Imagine (1930)A Connecticut Yankee (1931)Delicious (1931)Business and Pleasure (1932)Hold Me Tight (1933)My Weakness (1933)Bottoms Up (1934)Handy Andy (1934)Have a Heart (1934)Bright Eyes (1934)The Little Colonel (1935)Doubting Thomas (1935)The Littlest Rebel (1935)Captain January (1936)White Fang (1936)Pigskin Parade (1936)Ali Baba Goes to Town (1937)You’re a Sweetheart (1937)Kentucky Moonshine (1938)Straight, Place and Show (1938)Kentucky (1938)East Side of Heaven (1939)That’s Right – You’re Wrong (1939)If I Had My Way (1940)You’ll Find Out (1940)Caught in the Draft (1941)Playmates (1941)Road to Morocco (1942)They Got Me Covered (1943)Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)Shine On, Harvest Moon (1944)The Princess and the Pirate (1944)San Antonio (1945)Two Guys from Milwaukee (1946)The Time, the Place and the Girl (1946)My Wild Irish Rose (1947)Two Guys from Texas (1948)John Loves Mary (1949)Look for the Silver Lining (1949)It’s a Great Feeling (1949)The Story of Seabiscuit (1949)The Daughter of Rosie O’Grady (1950)Tea for Two (1950)Lullaby of Broadway (1951)Painting the Clouds with Sunshine (1951)Where’s Charley? (1952)April in Paris (1952)By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953)Calamity Jane (1953)The Command (1954)King Richard and the Crusaders (1954)Jump into Hell (1955)Glory (1956)The Girl He Left Behind (1956)The Right Approach (1961)C’mon, Let’s Live a Little (1967)