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College Coach (1933)

 -  Drama | Sport  -  4 November 1933 (USA)
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Coach Gore, a ruthless and cynical big-time football coach, neglects his wife in his unrelenting drive to make Calvert College a football power.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Phil Sargeant
Claire Gore
Coach Gore
Arthur Byron ...
Dr. Phillip Sargent
Buck Weaver
Arthur Hohl ...
Seymour Young
Charles C. Wilson ...
Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams ...
Matthews (as Guinn Williams)
Phillip Reed ...
'Wes' Westerman
Prof. Spencer Trask
Berton Churchill ...
Harry Beresford ...
Herman Bing ...
Prof. Glantz


A ruthless coach (Pat O'Brien) creates turmoil at a college by hiring players (Lyle Talbot) and alienating students (Dick Powell). Along the way, the coach loses his wife (Ann Dvorak) to a grandstanding player. Inside look at college football of the 1930s replete with fake grades, non-student players, and the importance of football to a college's reputation. Written by Ed Lorusso

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Sport


TV-G | See all certifications »




Release Date:

4 November 1933 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Football Coach  »

Box Office


$245,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


What Will I Do Without You
(1933) (uncredited)
Music by Hilda Gottlieb
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
See more »

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User Reviews

Minor Warner Bros. picture with confusing message, but look at all the familiar faces!
9 August 2011 | by (Upstate New York) – See all my reviews

The cast of COLLEGE COACH (1933) reads like a veritable "Who's Who" of 1930s supporting players. Familiar faces abound, albeit in small parts. In this one film we see similar beefy types Guinn "Big Boy" Williams and Nat Pendleton side-by-side, along with Joe Sauers (Sawyer). I was thinking that all we were missing was Ward Bond in one of his early bit roles, but he turns up as well. (I'm sure the football-themed story had a lot to do with this assemblage.) The main stars are Pat O'Brien, Lyle Talbot, Dick Powell, and Ann Dvorak, who are supported by Hugh Herbert and Donald Meek. The unmistakable Herman Bing has a scene, and who has a brief exchange with Powell in an early scene but a young John Wayne.

The story involves a college hiring a hotshot football coach in hopes of generating enough revenue from the team's success to save the school. The plot is then driven by three characters: Pat O'Brien as the dirty coach who builds championship teams through unethical means, Lyle Talbot as the hotshot football star whose ego is an issue on the field and off, and Dick Powell as the honest student-athlete who's captain of the team and a wiz in the chemistry lab. Ann Dvorak is O'Brien's neglected wife who begins spending her free evenings with Talbot.

The movie seems to be sending some odd messages. O'Brien's coach is an unlikable character. He runs a racket building his football legacy. He secretly enlists paid athletes (mercenaries) for the school team and rigs their academic standing to keep them eligible to play. He has a publicist build up his public image while he runs crooked financial deals behind closed doors. His ruthless on-field tactics lead to tragedy. He hops from one school to its rival for a fatter paycheck. And on top of it all, he neglects his poor wife.

But it seems clear that Pat O'Brien is the star attraction of the movie and that the audience is meant to somehow sympathize with him. Toward the end of the movie, the audience is asked to root for one unlikable character (Talbot's show-off quarterback) to come to the rescue of another unlikable character (O'Brien, who's facing ruin without his star players). The only likable character in the mix is Powell, who wanders out of the plot for a while, before returning to save the school, not O'Brien. O'Brien deserved some sort of comeuppance. The script ultimately rewards his behavior.

This is a minor film from the Warner Bros. vaults, but worth checking out if one is a fan of any of the stars. It also offers an intriguing look at the game of football, circa 1933. The manual scoreboards seem so complicated (cluttered?).

Dick Powell, fresh off his successes in Busby Berkeley musicals, is pretty good as a clean-cut college student who's not afraid to get tough. He puts cocky teammate Talbot in his place on more than one occasion. The most interesting angle in the movie, I believe, is the relationship between the two. Two sides of the same coin. An odd couple. Teammates on the field, roommates off it. They hated each other's guts, but they joined forces at the end. Too bad this angle wasn't developed as much as it could have been, with Powell's character quickly losing relevance to the main Pat O'Brien plot.

The movie's okay, but nothing special. The cast of bit players is interesting for 1930s movie buffs. But it seems odd that the movie makes a hero out of such a shyster.

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