Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Odd little B-movie which is part-romantic comedy, part-college sports story, and part-musical, but at barely an hour in length, it can't commit to any of its possibilities and remains a scattered hybrid which is pleasant enough but never really comes together. The one interesting element is that instead of football, the focus of the film is competitive rowing. Frank McHugh is the crew coach at Billings College; the board of trustees is under pressure to fire him, not only because of another losing season, but also because the grade point average of the team is so low. McHugh enlists the help of the college president's lovely daughter (Patricia Ellis) in attracting some promising talent. She snags two men in person (Warren Hull and Walter Johnson), and behind her back, McHugh and his secretary (Mary Treen) sign her name to a rather breathy letter and send it, along with a glamour shot pic, to dozens of other prospects, which results in a landslide of men for the new school year. Hull, the best prospect for the team (and best romantic prospect for Ellis), is rejected due to his grades, so McHugh gets him in under an assumed name. George E. Stone, a bandleader who is also the son of an alumni rower, sets the rowing rhythm for the men by playing jazz harmonica. Romantic rivalries, academic problems, and a fierce competition with a neighboring campus (not to mention Hull's fake identity and McHugh's phony letters) all lead to complications which are resolved predictably in the last five minutes. The sports aspect of the plot is the only one which gets any development. The romance between Ellis and Hull is lifeless--the actors are OK, but they don't get much screen time as a couple so we don't care what happens between them. As far as the musical side, there are three songs, two of which are realistically presented as entertainment, but one (the title song) is framed as an anemic, low budget version of a Busby Berkeley number in a soda fountain and it really doesn't belong. It is fun to see Stone, who usually plays comic relief tough guys (as in the Boston Blackie films), stray so far from type as a 30s' version of a collegiate hipster. Worth seeing as a novelty. [TCM]

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