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Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians,
Brother Rat, a successful Broadway play about the misadventures of some cadets at Virginia Military Institute, had a two year run on Broadway of 577 performances. In bringing it to Hollywood, I only wish the brothers Warner had gotten George Abbott to come over from Broadway as well as Eddie Albert from the original cast. I think the film would have been far the better for it.
As it is it's not a bad comedy at that. Wayne Morris who Warner Brothers was trying to build up at the time plays the lead, taking over from Frank Albertson on Broadway. But I did a double take when I saw that Ronald Reagan had taken over from Jose Ferrer on Broadway, ten years before Ferrer made his screen debut. Imagine Reagan and Ferrer playing the same role, I never would have dreamed it.
Reagan isn't bad though as the voice of reason of the three cadets, having to contend with Morris's schemes and Albert's lovesickness. In fact they all aren't bad.
On the distaff side Priscilla Lane does well as the object of Morris's affection and this was the film that introduced Ronald Reagan to the woman who could have become First Lady, Jane Wyman.
William Tracy also came over from Broadway playing the ever flustered plebe who is at the beck and call of the three upper classmen. Tracy took over the part on Broadway from Ezra Stone who went on to play Henry Aldrich on radio and film. Tracy steals every scene he's in.
Brother Rat is a funny film, but something tells me that the George Abbott stage production was a whole lot better.
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