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James Stewart joins the Naval Academy under a false name so that he could clear his father's name who was a career Naval officer. When one of his instructors starts telling his father's story he jumps up to defend his father. When the Academy finds out about the false name and who his father was, they must decide whether to expel him or investigate and clear his father's name. Written by
Intellectually speaking, this is a very clichéd film. So many of the typical 1930s and 40s gimmicks for this sort of movie are all present...ALL. Yet, despite this, I really had a hard time disliking the movie. It was highly entertaining and the actors really made it shine.
The film is about three roommates who all have just been admitted to the prestigious US Naval Academy. They are all stereotypes, but the most ridiculously stereotyped is the guy played by Robert Young. I am surprised they didn't nickname him 'Blackie', as he was the archetypal dishonorable bad guy who just doesn't understand or want to understand the importance of teamwork and humility. He's an exceptional football player (despite Young being 30 at the time he played this part) and knows it...and doing it for anyone but himself is out of the question. Tom Brown plays the sweet rich guy who is the embodiment of niceness and pluck--sort of like a Horatio Alger character who is ALREADY rich. He gives up his wealth and status to serve his country--and women who went to see this film must have all felt a tremendous urge to hug him! The final guy is played by Jimmy Stewart. Like Brown, he's an alright guy and gained admittance to the Academy through the ranks--and he's got a secret that comes out late in the film. While receiving second billing, I think this film did a lot more for Stewart's career than for any other in the movie. I thought Brown was also very good, but today he's an all but forgotten actor--and that's a shame.
The film has it all...lots of sentiment, a strong dose of patriotism, an old man who just happens to be on the brink of death when the big game comes up with Westpoint, you name it! In many ways, the film seems even more clichéd and prototypical for a college football film than even "Knute Rockne, All-American"! But, because the dialog, characters and direction are all so good, you can accept the huge doses of sentiment, schmaltz and all the familiar (very familiar) plot devices. Very well done and a must-see for fans of classic films.
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