Showing posts with label Pat O'Brien. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pat O'Brien. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Warner Archive Wednesday - College Coach (1933)

Title card for College Coach 1933

College Coach (1933) is a film that combines two of my favorite themes in early films: sports and collegiate culture. Calvert College is in trouble. They just put some money into their science department and now they are on the brink of bankruptcy. They get the idea to hire Coach Gore (Pat O'Brien), a college football coach whose success in developing teams that draw crowds and win championships is well-known. The board of the college figure that a healthy and attractive football program will bring enough revenue to help the college recover from it's financial crisis.

Coach Gore hires athletes to be fake college students so they can play on the college's football team and bring the success that the college is looking for. Two of his hired players Buck Weaver (Lyle Talbot) and Phil Sargeant (Dick Powell) don't see eye to eye.

And not only that Weaver has an eye for Gore's wife (Ann Dvorak). Things become complicated as Gore continues to neglect his wife, as Weaver causes more problems and as Sargeant figures out he really wants to study chemistry and the chemistry department is dependent on the football team's success in order to continue.

I love the dilemma between academics and sports. We all know that talented athletes are highly sought after my colleges and universities. And even today there is still debate about how much a school should invest in it's academics versus it's sports. Sports definitely bring more public recognition to a school than academics (unless we are talking about Harvard or MIT or something). ESPN will not be covering students doing a particularly tough chemistry experiment but will cover their basketball game. In College Coach (1933), the college's academics is the poorer cousin to the much more handsome prospect of a robust football program. There is contention between them both with the hired players passing classes without having to do any studying.

College Coach is a fun movie with a good cast. It's not particularly collegiate. Some of the early scenes show students at games, together in dorms expressing their college spirit. The focus of this film is definitely the business behind college football and how the manipulation of Gore and his hired players causes problems for the school and for personal relationships.

Technically it's a pre-code but it's pretty tame. There is one scene in which Weaver (Lyle Talbot) hangs up a picture of a swell looking dame on a shelf much to the dismay of Sargeant. Weaver points to the picture and proclaims: "How would you like to stick your finger in..."

OH MY GOODNESS! I was so scandalized until he finished

How would you like to stick your finger in her coffee?

Phew! Also, who sticks their fingers in girls' coffees? Is this a thing? Is it to break the bubble of personal space?

Fun fact: A very young John Wayne has a bit part as a college student.

John Wayne in a bit part in College Coach 1933 with Dick Powell

College Coach (1933) is available from the Warner Archive and at various online retailers.

Warner Archive Wednesday - On (random) Wednesdays, I review one title from the Warner Archive Collection. Movies selected are rented from Classicflix, watched on TCM or purchased from Warner Archive, Classicflix or TCM. This series is not sponsored by Warner Archive.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

San Quentin (1937)

The 1930s were a great time for prison dramas. Films such as 20,000 Years in Sing Sing (1932), The Big House (1930) and I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932) graced the screens satisfying the taste buds of movie-goers who wanted a taste of the clink. San Quentin (1937) is exactly what you'd expect out of a prison drama with the added benefit of a love story and the presence of Humphrey Bogart. San Quentin is an unruly prison with issues. The prisoners have been lashing out at captain Druggin (Barton McLane) whose been giving them extra doses of punishment to satisfy his own selfish desires. With mutiny imminent, the prison needs to bring order to this unruly crowd. Whom better to bring order to chaos than someone from the most disciplined service there is: the army. Captain Jameson (Pat O'Brien) is hired for the gig but on the eve of his first day on the job he swoons for lounge singer May (Ann Sheridan). Trouble is, May is the sister of Red Kennedy (Humphrey Bogart), San Quentin's newest prisoner. I enjoyed how the love story complicated the prison story. And how the story dipped out into the real world ever so often. It made me want to stay in the real world more and the prison world less. And isn't that how I'm supposed to feel?

Trivia: Humphrey Bogart's character Red Kennedy is described as 5'10" in the film. This turned on a dusty lightbulb in my brain and I declared to an empty room "no he's not!". If you'll recall my previous post about Leading Men shorter than Richard Widmark, Bogie was actually 5'8". Ha!

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