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Bessie and Winston "Slug" Winters are married coaches whose mission is to whip their college football team into shape. Just in time, they discover a hillbilly farmhand and his sister. But the hillbilly farmhand's ability to throw melons enables him to become their star passing ace. Written by
Cornpone Humor, Football, And Judy Garland's Feature Debut
Yale invites the University of Texas to compete in a charity football game--but a secretary fumbles the communication and extends the invitation to tiny Texas State University instead. New coach Slug Winters (Jack Haley) and his harridan wife Bessie (Patsy Kelly) manage to whip the team into shape, but when an accident sidelines the star player they find an unexpected replacement in barefoot yokel Amos Dodd (Stuart Erwin)... and before you can say Sis Boom Bah every one is off to the big game! Best known for his later performance of The Tin Man in THE WIZARD OF OZ, Jack Haley was a memorable light comic of stage and screen, and his pairing with Patsy Kelly is truly inspired. In addition to the then-popular quartet The Yachtclub Boys, the film also offers early glimpses of future big names like Betty Grable, Alan Ladd, Tony Martin, and Elisha Cook Jr., not to mention B movie queens Arline Judge and Lynn Bari.
But then as now, the real noise in the film was teenage Judy Garland, who made her feature film debut on loan from home studio MGM with the small role of Amos Dodd's hillbilly sister "Sairy." Slight though the role was, Garland's handful of cornpone-humor scenes and her three songs served as a wake-up call to her MGM handlers, and for the rest of her MGM contract she would never work off-studio again.
Although PIGSKIN PARADE is hardly in the same league with the Paramount, Warner Brothers, or MGM musicals of the same era, the lightweight story, memorable cast, silly dialogue ("Well, Call My Hawgs!") and pleasant if not greatly memorable songs has a great deal of period charm. I do not think it will greatly appeal to any one who isn't already a fan of 1930s musicals, but those who are will enjoy it--and Garland fans will consider it a minor classic.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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