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This is a fun period piece for graduates, parents of current midshipmen or of Naval Academy graduates, or staff and faculty of the Naval Academy to get a look at the US Naval Academy of the 1930's. It's fun light piece which provides some interesting historical perspective on the USNA - to include the left hand salute to Tecumseh, the rooms in Bancroft Hall, the yard prior to much of the WW2 and post WW2 construction etc. The story is light but fun and is a reflection of the pre-WW2 America in which it was made. Also fun to see a very young Jimmy Stewart and Robert Young, and the "Good Witch" from the Wizard of Oz.
I just saw this film recently and can't remember ever having seen it before. A lot of talent in front of and behind the camera on this production. It's the story of three young men who come to the Naval Academy for different reasons and have little in common with each other except that they share the common denominator of being on the football team but they strike up an immediate friendship and become roommates. It has a story so it's not a silly comedy and despite not a lot of depth and a fairly predictable storyline it moves along at a good pace with no boring lulls thanks to the excellent direction of Sam Wood who had been making films since the silent era and had success with the Marx Brothers films and the drama Madam X just before this production and he would go on to direct such films as Goodbye Mr. Chips, Kitty Foyle, Kings row, Pride of the Yankees, for Whom the Bell Tolls and Our Town. Cinematographer John F. Seitz had photographed the string of Shirley Temple movies before this film and he would enjoy respected success for such films as The Lost Weekend, Double Endemnity, This Gun for Hire and Sunset Boulevard. A lot of exterior scenes at the Naval Academy and it's midshipmen. Good football scenes with a seamless blend of actual game footage and the actors as players. Robert Young is the more establish actor here and in 1937 at the age of 30 he seems a little old for the role. It's early in the career of the less established James Stewart and despite being 29 he looks so youthful he fits the role. Tom Brown at 22 is about the right age for the role but looks almost too young. Veteran actor Lionel Barrymore plays the role of a man about a dozen years older than Barrymore actually was. Billy Burke, two years shy of her famous role as Ginda in the Wizard of Oz is here and girl-next-door wholesome role actress Florence Rice is here as the love interest of Young and Stewart and the sister of Brown. It's appropriate for her to be in a football picture being the daughter of the famous sportswriter Grantland Rice. I had no intention of watching the entire movie but before I knew it I had. I would give this a 7.5 out of 10 but Stewart shines and you can tell he was going to become a big star someday.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Directed by Sam Wood, "Navy Blue and Gold" is a pleasantly charming
movie about life at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis,
Maryland. The story focuses on three first-year midshipmen with very
different backgrounds (except for a common love of football) who become
roommates. My favorite actor James Stewart is the very definition of
decency and patriotism with his characterization of "Truck" Cross, a
shy, hard-working young man who has been passionate about the Navy for
virtually his whole life, serving his country on a ship before being
enrolled in the Academy. Tom Brown is fine as Richard Arnold Gates,
Jr., the decent son of a wealthy New York family who is sometimes
teased (and hazed) because of his size. Robert Young is superb as the
very cynical Roger Ash, who is not nearly as straitlaced as his two
roommates and who often involves himself in minor scrapes with Navy
regulations. These three very different young men become the best of
friends at the Academy.
By far the best scene in "Navy Blue and Gold," and perhaps James Stewart's finest & most dramatic moment on film to date, is the scene in which Truck does a slow burn as he listens to one of his instructors relate a story about Truck's father, a former commanding officer who was dishonorably discharged from the Navy for alleged derelict of duty. Enraged, Truck rises to his feet and passionately defends his father by telling the true story. As a result of his outburst, Truck finds himself in danger of being dismissed from the Academy, and it is this climactic moment that helps to bring out the better qualities of Roger Ash. He decides to do away with his cynicism, say a heartfelt prayer for Truck, and work harder on the gridiron. At the closing of this film, when Truck has been exonerated and the Navy has defeated the Army in football, Ash still maintains his integrity by surrendering his chance to ring the victory bell to the man who he feels really won the game, the elder Captain "Skinny" Dawes (Lionel Barrymore).
"Navy Blue and Gold" is a fine and heartwarming story. Aside from the three principal young actors portraying the plebes, this film boasts excellent performances from Florence Rice, Billie Burke, Lionel Barrymore, Samuel S. Hinds, Barnett Parker, Paul Kelly, Frank Albertson, and many others. For James Stewart, "Navy Blue and Gold" was a definite step in the right direction; when the famed director Frank Capra watched Stewart's performance in this film, he immediately recognized Stewart's idealism and decency, eventually offering Stewart major parts in three of his own classic pictures: "You Can't Take It with You" (1938), "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939), and "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946).
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
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I love sports films and this is one of the best: Spoilers ahead. My favorite scenes are where a teacher calls John Cross's (James Steart)dad, a coward and you can really see the anger when it wants him to take it back (Of course, his dad eventually gets exonerated, and Stewart helps beat Army and gets the girl Pat (Florence Rice)and when Rog (Robert Young) gives up ringing the Victory Bell so that "Skinny" Dawes (Lionel Barrymore) could ring it perhaps for the last time. Now it really helps to be a fan or attended Navy (or Army) to understand this. But years ago, when Napoleon McCallum volunteered to come back and do an extra year at Annapolis (Naval Academy), and set a rushing yardage record, and gave the game ball to the Academy Superintendent, and the Admiral broke down and cried. Of course, this is not the only film Stewart and Barrymore did together ("Its A Wonderful Life" & "You Can't Take It With You" are the others where Stewart was a decent man facing adversity). However, this film is the first film where we saw the Stewart that most of us know. Prior to that we saw some strange casting choices like ""Rose Marie" and "Another Thin Man" (Stewart as the killer in both films does not work), and in some cases after "No Time For Comedy"( His worst by far) comes to mind as does "Its A Wonderful World" (Although I liked that one despite the fact he was playing a Bogart-type Detective with a mustache no less)). For sports and Stewart fans this should be a must see.
Three young men (James Stewart, Robert Young, Tom Brown) who enter the
Naval Academy became fast friends. Each one is a different clichéd
character. Brown's the naive kid, Young's the cynical tough guy,
Stewart's the nice one with a mystery. Brown and Stewart play to type
well but Young steals the show as the hard case with a hidden heart of
gold. We follow the ups and downs of each of these men at the academy,
leading up to the big Army-Navy football game that they all play in.
There's nothing really new here, even for 1937, but it's undeniably enjoyable due to the generally upbeat tempo and likable leads. Nice supporting cast includes Lionel Barrymore, Billie Burke, Florence Rice, and Samuel S. Hinds. Dennis Morgan has a cute scene dancing with Burke. Sentimental, patriotic, and fun movie. Really hard to dislike this one.
The US service academies have been good ground for good films for as
long as there have been movies. Two years before Navy Blue And Gold
came out, Annapolis got the full Hollywood treatment from Warner
Brothers in Shipmates Forever. The only difference here is that no one
sings in this one.
Three midshipmen from different walks of life become roommates and one of them, Tom Brown, has a sister that his two friends, James Stewart have a friendly rivalry over. All three of them play football and go on to play football for the Naval Academy.
Robert Young is the playboy of the group who just sees the Academy as the way to meet a rich woman and retire young, no pun intended. James Stewart is an enlisted man with a big secret who wants a career in the Navy in the worst way. Tom Brown is a nice young kid, rich, but with a good heart. And his sister Florence Rice has the first two guys hormones racing round the Annapolis quadrant.
Both Young and Stewart go through differing crises and each has to examine what brought them to Annapolis. How they resolve things and how outside forces deal with them is the crux of Navy Blue And Gold.
Sam Wood directed the film and he had a nice eye for the tradition and ambiance that is the Naval Academy. Every film I ever saw about either West Point or Annapolis is reverent about the place and this is no different. The people that come here surrender their lives to lead those who defend our country. The Academies ask and get only the best and brightest.
The cast is rounded out with some well rounded character parts like Paul Kelly as the Naval Academy Football Coach, Samuel S. Hinds and Billie Burke as the parents of Rice and Brown, and most of all Lionel Barrymore as Skinny Dawes, the oldest graduate of the Academy and original starter on the Navy's first football squad.
It all ends in annual Army-Navy football game and need I tell you who wins it. Funny thing is that I could have taken the same story and turned it around and written it for the Army. No doubt it's been done already.
Seeing James Stewart all idealistic about the Navy and its traditions leaves you no doubt as to why he became a big star and why he was so good in roles like Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. Watching Stewart in his part as Tuck Cross is like seeing Jefferson Smith get a college education. Note that in 1937 Robert Young is billed over Stewart, but by 1940 when they did The Mortal Storm, the billing had reversed.
Navy Blue And Gold is one sentimental picture. But there are those of us who like our sentiment.
Having acted alongside Edward G. Robinson, John Carradine and Lionel Barrymore in his previous film, the 29 year old James Stewart acted in this film with Roland Young titled 'Navy Blue and Gold'. A production line film to engage Stewart with big names, but the script and direction was still quite thin.
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