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Tom Brown of Culver (1932)

 -  Drama  -  1 July 1932 (USA)
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Boy who thought his father a war hero finds he was really a deserter.



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Title: Tom Brown of Culver (1932)

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Complete credited cast:
Tom Brown ...
Tom Brown
Elmer (Slim) Whitman
Richard Cromwell ...
Robert Randolph III
Dr. Brown
Cpl. John Clarke
Russell Hopton ...
American Legion Doctor
Dolores Delight
Maj. Wharton
Willard Robertson ...
Capt. White
Norman Phillips Jr. ...
Ernest Carruthers
Donald MacKenzie (as Tyrone Power Jr.)
Kit Guard ...
K.O. Mooney


Boy who thought his father a war hero finds he was really a deserter.

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Release Date:

1 July 1932 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cadete de Honra  »

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Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Referenced in Hollywood Hist-o-Rama: Tyrone Power (1962) See more »

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User Reviews

Military melodrama
30 September 2002 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

"Tom Brown of Culver" is more confusing than it needs to be. The main character, named Tom Brown, is played by an actor named Tom Brown ... but he clearly isn't playing himself. Were Universal Studios planning to build up Tom Brown (the actor) with a starring vehicle? The fact that this movie's plot vaguely resembles that of Thomas Hughes's coming-of-age novel "Tom Brown's School Days" only adds to the confusion.

Tom Brown (the fictional character) is a Hoosier lad who takes any work he can get, to help his widowed mother. Tom's father "Doc" Brown was killed in action during the Great War, when Tom was an infant. Tom has nothing to remind him of his father except his Congressional Medal of Honour, awarded posthumously.

The local American Legion post sponsor Tom's induction into Culver Military Academy. Tom has no interest in a career as a soldier, but he accepts the posting so as to get free room and board. At this point, I expected the film to enter "Tom Brown's School Days" territory. But instead...

SPOILERS COMING. ...the film veers sharply into melodrama with an unexpected plot twist. Tom's father has been alive all along. "Doc" Brown (an overacting H.B. Warner) deserted under fire, trading his military I.D. with that of a battlefield corpse. Shell-shocked, a nervous wreck ashamed of his own cowardice under fire, it has taken "Doc" Brown all these years to work up the nerve to seek out his son and his "widow". By this time, Tom has been instilled with a sense of military honour and duty. He knows that his scholarship to Culver is due to his father's heroic war record. When he learns that his father was actually a deserter, Tom knows that he must resign from Culver. But then he gets a surprise...

Tom Brown (the actor) gives a stand-out performance as Tom Brown the cadet; I regret that he never again got a role as good as this one. Much of this movie was actually filmed at the Culver Military Academy, and the authenticity greatly enhances the movie.

The script avoids all of the most obvious old clichés, but replaces them with some brand-new clichés. The plot about the long-lost father is ridiculous. A subplot concerning Tom's room-mate and an actress (named Dolores Delight!) goes absolutely nowhere. Richard Cromwell is excellent as the room-mate, and there are several other fine performances by young actors (including Tyrone Power and Alan Ladd in small roles). The young actor who plays underclassman Carruthers (in another subplot that goes nowhere) is extremely impressive.

Comedian Slim Summerville gives one of his best performances, in a serious role that gives him one very funny line about a lady named Annabelle. Lew Kelly (a vaudeville monologist) is hilarious in a brief scene that seems to belong in some other picture. The film begins with a sincere dedication to America's servicemen. I liked everything about "Tom Brown of Culver" except its ludicrous script. I'll rate this movie 6 out of 10.

If this movie were made nowadays, I can imagine the ad campaign: "Tom Brown **IS** Tom Brown!"

2 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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