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A. Edward Sutherland
Billy De Wolfe
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When writer and future Oscar winner Julius J. Epstein first arrived in Hollywood in 1933, he was told to watch the making of "College Humor" on the sound stage in order to get him acclimated to moviemaking and production techniques. See more »
COLLEGE HUMOR (Paramount, 1933), directed by Wesley Ruggles, is one of many college campus musicals made during the Depression 1930s, highlighted with music and a football game finale.
Following his success in THE BIG BROADCAST (1932), Bing Crosby shows promise in his initial top-billed feature role, which is actually a second lead part as Frederick Danvers, a professor at Midwest University. In support are some over-aged college students, including Richard Arlen as Ralph, a football star whose career declines due to drunken disorderly conduct and jealous rages; Jack Oakie, the real star of the movie, as his football playing pal, Barney; Joseph Sawyer (billed Sauers) as a tough named "Tex", who excels in beating up on Oakie in one scene during a college initiation; with blonde and perky Mary Carlisle as Arlen's girlfriend who has a crush on her crooning professor; and Mary Kornman as Oakie's girlfriend, Amber. With the trials and tribulations amongst the students, the lighter moments go to the comedy team of George Burns and Gracie Allen, appearing in a few scenes as college caterers. They even take a moment out to sing an Irish song, "Colleen of Korlarny." Gracie manages to sing well, even in character. With music and lyrics by Arthur Johnson and Sam Coslow, the catchy tunes include "Play Ball" (sung by off screen singers during opening credits/re-prised in opening story by Crosby); "The Old Ox-Road" (sung by Jack Oakie/ students/ Crosby); "Learn to Croon" (sung by Crosby/ students); "Moon Struck" (sung by Crosby as he plays piano); along with reprises of "Learn to Croon" and "Play Ball" before the closing cast credits.
What makes COLLEGE HUMOR interesting in itself is seeing a young Crosby in an offbeat yet small role. He would return to college again in later years, most notably as a student in the then popular SHE LOVES ME NOT (1934). A real curio worth viewing if ever shown on television again.
*Warning: The 2005 video cassette copy distributed by Hollywood's Attic is not complete. Eliminated from the original 80 minute print are the introduction of leading players during the opening credits to the underscoring of "Learn to Croon" followed by Bing Crosby's opening number of "Play Ball." (**1/2)
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