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College Coach (1933)

 -  Drama | Sport  -  4 November 1933 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.0/10 from 266 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 4 critic

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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Title: College Coach (1933)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
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
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User Reviews

What Matters In War Is Victory, What Matters In Football Is Winning
28 September 2006 | by (New Haven County, Connecticut) – See all my reviews

Recently Turner Classic Movies ( TCM ), on cable television, hosted a day of college football related movies, including this vehicle for Dick Powell and Ann Dvorak, and "Huddle" with Ramon Novarro. They are two really great films but they are totally different in their approach to the social setting and context of college sports.

Without having a clear understanding of the dire economic situation then prevalent in the United States -- the Depression Era -- it isn't really possible to grasp the full and emotional meaning of either "College Coach," or "Huddle." The banking crisis of 1928 prefaced the infamous melt-down in the American stock market in 1929, when hundreds of thousands of small- and medium-sized investors lost their equity when stock prices tumbled. The reason so many lost their equities, was not specifically because the companies were failing ( or collapsing ), but because they had purchased stock issues 'on margin,' or by borrowing money against the future value of the issue.

The banking crisis -- which had its roots in the success of new farming methods, which perversely drove down agricultural prices as yields rose dramatically -- led to a tightening of credit and credit extension rules. So, the sudden drop and then free-fall of stock prices wiped out the value of equity and banks were forced to call the loans made to individuals and companies for their 'margin' purchases. Both the well-to-do and the new middle-class got hurt bad by this ...

Simultaneously, from 1919 to 1939, the supposedly amateur world of college football -- which had evolved rapidly in the years from 1890 to 1916 -- was itself revolutionized by the almost-hysterical frenzy of football fans, which arose during the "Roaring '20s". In the first decades of the collegiate game, the truly great football powers were also the leading elite colleges, like Brown, Colgate, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Holy Cross, Princeton, Harvard and Yale. The great State universities followed suit in this time, and this included Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia, and the football legends of Army and Navy, the U.S. service academies. In the '20s all these programs drew huge numbers of ticket-buying fans to their new stadiums.

The actual plot of "College Coach" is actually baffling: a movie fan going to see this film in 1933 would have easily identified with the dire situation of Calvert University, facing bankruptcy at the opening of the story, and would have accepted their crazy idea of reaping revenues from having a winning football team. And the only way to get a winning football team on the field ( Calvert hasn't won a game in three years at the beginning of this story ), is to hire a coach who has absolutely no scruples at all. A coach who looks at the playing field as a battlefield, and football as being war. A coach who can and will recruit 'tramp athletes,' or transients, who can provide the flash and firepower on the playing field that the sports-loving public adores.

That's what the "College Coach" they hire, does, exactly.

The subtext of this film is an indictment of the lesser tiers of the college football world in that time, as the tramp players get paid off with cash, off the books, and get excused from having to do any real academic work. None of that was allowed at the truly great institutions of higher learning, in the '20s and '30s, but it was done with "a wink and a nod" at a lot of the lesser schools. Some athletes played for as many as three different teams in one season, usually under different aliases ( and always for money ).

Both the structure and the resolution of the story in this film are examples of a very amoral philosophy: Sinclair Lewis highlighted some aspects of this way of thinking in his great novel, "Babbit." This is a great film, if viewed as being a social commentary, but it simply isn't a great "Dick Powell film." He's just barely in the movie at all, in terms of the reality of the storyline, set against the Depression.

The final scenes of "College Coach" rip into the stuffings of that amoral way of thinking while also settling the facts of the coach's economic propositions. This incredibly unscrupulous "coach" gets his big wins, by cheating, and he isn't punished for anything he's done that is wrong or unethical, or even fatal in its results. He and his luxury-loving wife are rewarded for this behavior ....

The moral of the story of "College Coach" is clear: bend the rules, break the rules, win, and if you get caught ... obfuscate, obfuscate, and then lie.

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