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It's surprising to find that this very pleasant entry in the college
musical cycle is not better known. Not only does it feature a
reasonably amusing screenplay by George Waggner which provides splendid
comic opportunities for Sterling Holloway, Arthur Lake, Lon Chaney, Jr
and a host of beautiful girls, but it introduces some excellent musical
Oddly, it's Lon Chaney, Jr, who runs off with the movie's histrionic honors (though closely pursued by Eddie Nugent). I've never seen Lon look more handsome or give a more delightfully charming performance, completely free of his usual heavily theatrical mannerisms and amateurish delivery. One suspects that the agreeably light touch he gives his role was entirely his own invention, as the other performances (most particularly by Lake and Cleveland) tend to be more broad. (Not that I'm being critical. It's just that Chaney deftly delivers a very nice contrast).
Director McCarey has handled this assignment with commendable aplomb. Even brother Leo could not have done better. The photography is likewise very attractive. In fact production values are far superior to the usual run of Monogram B's.
This is a fun bit of fluff about a group of college students and their
various pursuits such as rigging the competition for 'The Joe Senior
Contest' which determines the most popular boy in school, attempting to
win an inter-collegiate athletics competition, and getting the girls or
boys of their dreams. Two of the stars, Creighton Chaney (later changed
to Lon Chaney Jr) and Arthur Lake, went on to become, respectively, The
Wolf Man, and Dagwood from the 'Blondie' series of movies.
I liked this movie a lot more than I expected to. Despite its age, it's interesting to see that some things about being a college student haven't changed all that much. I chortled out loud in surprise at a scene between two pals Bobby and Spec in which they lament that Larry 'is the most popular man in class with the babes'! I didn't know they used the term 'babes' in this sense in 1936! This remark was so 'Bill-and-Ted'-ish, I was half expecting one of them to exclaim 'Dude!' (in fact, Spec and Bobby even look a bit Bill and Ted-ish, one shaggy-haired and blonde and the other dark-haired and gormless).
Includes a few corny songs around a piano, which you will either love, hate or merely tolerate, BUT which are notable for one in which we actually get to see Lon Chaney Jr sing! The Wolf Man sings? Brill! Chaney is also at the youthful top of his condition physically and is actually quite a hunk! Recommended, as an hour spent in pure escapist fun with a cast of likable characters.
1934's "Girl O' My Dreams" was among Monogram's entries in the 'campus musical' genre, so popular in the 30s and 40s, best exemplified by Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, or later Donald O'Connor and Peggy Ryan. While much of the cast are familiar to their roles, its truly a revelation to find 28 year old Lon Chaney Jr. in what amounts to the starring role, billed for the last time under his real name, 'Creighton Chaney.' As Don Cooper, star shot putter and discus thrower for Rawley College, Chaney beats out hotshot track star Larry Haines (Eddie Nugent) for the title of 'Joe Senior,' after which he suddenly begins to act more like Haines in his girl chasing, neglecting his athletics. Will Rawley still triumph over Stanford in the thrilling competition finale? Need you ask? Sure comic performers like Sterling Holloway, Arthur Lake, and Tom Dugan do not disappoint, though the girls (apart from the Crane twins, Beverly and Betty Mae) are almost invisible. Brunette Gi-Gi Parrish is Chaney's girl, Mary Carlisle the blonde who uses him to make Haines jealous (the twins are called 'Nip and Tuck!'). Best of all, halfway in we get to actually hear Creighton Chaney sing atop a piano, and not badly either. His voice isn't as deep as John Carradine's, but he could have made a 'basso profundo' (this basso sang a song 30 years before "Spider Baby"). Unfortunately, the tune ends abruptly by the untimely arrival of music teacher E. Phlatt (Olaf Hytten). Most incredibly, the director was Raymond McCarey (brother of Leo), and the writer George Waggner, who years later brought Lon Chaney to Universal, scripting and directing his debut for the studio, "Man Made Monster," and producing and directing his iconic classic "The Wolf Man."
Considering it's a Monogram production, the results are generally
better than expected. For some reason college-based musical comedies
were popular about this time (1933). The storyline is unexceptional,
the usual romantic mix-ups that furnish a few laughs; along with a
dollop of sports competition that furnishes a dash of suspense. What's
really eye-catching, however, is the cast. Yes, it is a young,
handsome, muscular Lon (Creighton) Chaney Jr. as one of the swains, and
looking nothing like the dissipated alcoholic of later years. After
seeing the promise here, its doubly unfortunate his career went on the
downslide it did.
Also, there's only a slightly addled Sterling Holloway playing it fairly straight, for a change; and Arthur Lake showing a nicely shaded comedic side that probably helped him get the Dagwood role in the long-running Blondie series. But who is Edward Nugent. Judging from his many credits in the 1930's, he nevertheless quit the business early. Whatever the case, he makes a perfectly handsome swell-head, who can be either obnoxious or charming. Too bad IMDb doesn't give us more of his bio. Anyway, the movie's not a bad little programmer given its lowly Monogram pedigree.
It appears that life in college back in the 30s isn't so different as
it is today. This modest little film opens with an over-the-shoulder
shot of two kids poring over a dictionary, looking up the meaning of
the word 'college,' which is described as something like a 'place where
students learn the higher arts.' The scene then immediately changes to
shots of various sporting occasions to emphasise the irony of this
definition. The kids here are all interested in the opposite sex, and
seem to spend more of their time on the sports field than they do in
The story is a slight one: Larry Haines (played by an impossibly handsome Edward Nugent) is a likable but conceited college track star who thinks the world shines out of his shorts, so his friends Sterling Holloway and Arthur Lake in the nominal comic relief roles decide to rig the 'Joe Senior' popularity election so that Larry will lose, hoping to bring his ego back down to earth. Their plan succeeds and Don Cooper (a young Lon Chaney, Jr., still working under the name Creighton), a dedicated shot-putter, wins the election. Trouble is, Don's head starts swelling, and the two young men end up attached to each other's girlfriends, even though they don't want to be.
This movie is entertaining enough. While it doesn't stand comparison with most higher-quality flicks being produced by the bigger studios at the time, it's head and shoulders above much of the dross being churned out by the poverty row studios back then. Monogram, together with Republic, was one of the better of these impoverished studios although most of their stuff still wasn't very good. It's easy to see teenagers from the 30s getting a kick out of it while they waited for the main feature.
One moment that does set it apart from other films although the significance would have been lost on all involved at the time is that Chaney actually gets to sing a song in this one. Like the film, he's not great, but he passes muster.
This a great cast - and every character in the film is likable. Cute
story surrounding college jocks and their girlfriends. Quite a bit of
comedy that kept me giggling throughout the film. It's even better than
I imagined it would be.
Creighton Chaney's last role under his real name. He plays a typical jock in this one - worried more about his sport than his girl until she gets upset about it and ends up with his best friend Bobby Barnes' (Arthur Lake). Ironically his best friend Bobby's girlfriend just got upset with him and ends up with Dan. Basically Bobby and Gwen are a couple, Dan and Mary are a couple because the ladies get upset. There is a switch in men (trying to create jealousy to win back the guys they are in-love with). It all gets straightened out in the end but the way everything happens is quite comical.
I must mention Sterling Holloway as Spec Early... what a fun character he is. Spec ends up with Kittens (Jeanie Roberts) and it's unclear if he really wants to be with her or not in the very end. LOL.
Overall a really fun film - lighthearted, romantic comedy that I enjoyed watching.
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