Monday, February 25, 2013


At Winfield College, preparations are under way for the annual show, but if this year's production is as uninspired and unpopular as the last few have been, the college's theatrical group, the Quadrangle Club, will have to shut down. The problem is the ancient and stuffy Prof. Biddle (Walter Catlett) who won't let the kids do anything modern. Mason (Fred Waring), a younger music teacher, is behind the kids but can't openly go against Biddle, so they get the idea to go to New York to see Broadway producer and Winfield alumnus Chuck Daly (Dick Powell); they offer him all the Club's money to put their show on for them. Because his latest production, one in a series of flops, has just closed, he agrees. At Winfield, Daly and his manager Willy Williams (Ted Healy) get involved in a string of shenanigans that get them in trouble with Biddle and the college, so in the end, they wind up heading back to Broadway, where they occupy an empty theater (and the police are so charmed by their rehearsals that they let them stay), and put on their show, saving the Quadrangle Club and Chuck's career. This college musical stays light on its feet and fairly charming throughout, though by the midpoint when it's clear it’s turning into a version of BABES ON BROADWAY (though this film predates that one by a few years), it slows down a bit. Powell has no chemistry with his romantic partner, Rosemary Lane (her sister Priscilla is also in the movie and makes a better impression), but luckily he works well with Ted Healy, his sidekick. Waring, a famous bandleader—his Pennsylvanians are in the movie with him—is no actor, but he seems eager to do his part. Supporting players Johnny Davis and Sterling Holloway are good, as is the African-American comedy/dancing team of Buck and Bubbles (Ford Washington Lee and John William Sublett, pictured—Sublett went on to create the role of Sportin' Life in the premiere production of Progy and Bess). The gaggle of students, including Scotty Bates, Mabel Todd, and Lee Dixon, help make the movie fun to watch. Busby Berkeley is credited as the creator of the spectacular football-themed finale, and it's fun, but the long opening sequence, as singing students, excited about the upcoming show, congregate in the gym is even better. [DVD]

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