Movie Review – Mister Scoutmaster

on October 19, 2009 in Film & Books

There have not been many feature films about Scouting made during the decades. Most people involved with Scouting have heard of a little film by Walt Disney called Follow Me Boys, but I bet most people would be hard pressed to name another five movies that include Scouting as a major part of the plot. I own a few Scouting related movies so I thought that I might write a short review of each of them over the next couple of months.

My first review will be of a movie made many years ago, 1953 in fact. Mister Scoutmaster is a black and white film which stars Clifton Webb as a children’s television show writer for NBC Studios. When the sponsor decides they may not renew their option on the show unless ratings improve Webb’s character, Robert Jordan, decides to do some research on what boys currently enjoy. He begins by buying an arm full of comic books which does not help him very much. Later, as he and his wife talk to their minister about adoption, the scoutmaster of the troop sponsored by the church charges into the room and declares his resignation. Mr. Jordan sees an opportunity to do research for his show and jumps at the opportunity to become the scoutmaster. The movie follows him and the troop through a troop meeting, a camping trip, and an emergency search and rescue situation.
Mr. Jordan’s nemesis soon turns out to be a young Cub Scout names Mike who holds the rank of Wolf. He wants to become a Bear Scout and tells the Jordans, “Gotta be square, or I can’t become a Bear.” But Mr. Jordan becomes suspicious when he discovers Mike is lying about his life at home. This becomes a nice subplot of the movie.
I like the movie. I found it to be entertaining and a fair representation of Scouting. There is a touch of the “Hollywood” view of Scouting but I did not find it distracting. If I use the Boy Scout ranks as a rating system, with Tenderfoot being the low end and Eagle being the top, I would rate this as being a Star Rank. Have you seen this movie? What rating would you give it?

3 Responses to “Movie Review – Mister Scoutmaster”

  1. Jerry says:

    I need to get my hands on this movie and watch it.. you hooked me with the scene.
    Thanks Buddy!

  2. Sam L. says:

    What struck me was that there was at least one black scout in the troop, and a couple of Asian heritage in the big COH scene–with no comments about them. Just Scouts, members of the troop, completely ordinary.

    Well, other than a bunch of things not allowed now.

    I'd say Star, better than half-way to Life.

  3. Fred Goodwin says:

    I have this movie (a bootleg copy) and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Of course, there are scenes that violate current YP standards, but it is still a sweet film that brings back nostalgia for the old days. As a Scouter and parent of an adopted son, I completely identify with the ending of the story. I agree with your ranking/rating.

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