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College Swing (1938)

Passed | | Comedy | 29 April 1938 (USA)
Gracie Alden tries to graduate on college to get an inheritance.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mabel Grady
Bud Brady
Hubert Dash
Florence George ...
Ginna Ashburn
Ben Volt
Martin Bates
Dean Sleet
Radio Announcer
Skinnay Ennis ...
Skinnay - Orchestra Leader
The Slate Brothers ...
Robert Mitchell ...
1738 Boys Choir (as Bob Mitchell and St. Brendan's Choristers)


Gracie Alden tries to graduate on college to get an inheritance.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

29 April 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Jazz Academia  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. It was released on DVD 5 March 2002 in tandem with The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938) as part of the Bob Hope Tribute Collection, and again as a single 30 October 2015 as part of the Universal Vault Series. See more »


In the "You're a Natural" number, as Gracie gets out of the car and continues to sing, two members of the crew can be glimpsed briefly in the reflection on the car door. See more »


Referenced in The Day of the Locust (1975) See more »


Performed by Jerry Colonna
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User Reviews

Rhythm on the Campus
16 February 2007 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

COLLEGE SWING (Paramount, 1938), directed by Raoul Walsh, the last of the studio's oddball "College" musicals of the 1930s, follows the tradition of COLLEGE HUMOR (1933), COLLEGE RHYTHM (1934) and COLLEGE HOLIDAY (1936), minus a football game climax. With the exception of "Rhythm," they all featured the comedy team of Burns and Allen. In spite of their names leading the cast, they have little to do together, with Gracie actually going solo this time around. Supporting them are an impressive number of performers: Bob Hope and Martha Raye singing and clowning together: Betty Grable and Jackie Coogan (former top child star of the 1920s) whose appearances are so brief that it would have been better had they not been included at all; and John Payne and Florence George (her movie debut) as the subordinate romantic pair having a couple of duets together, and not much else that would gather much attention The story, such as it is, begins with a ten minute prologue set in early America, 1738, as a group of choir boys singing, with one suddenly going into swing. The youngster identifies himself as Benny Goodman!!! After that, there's an introduction to the main characters: Hubert Dash (Edward Everett Horton), founder of the the school, handing out diplomas on graduation day to every student but Gracie Alden (Gracie Allen), having been there for nine years and not understanding the answers to the questions. Her grandfather, the squire (Tully Marshall), decides to leave his money as permanent property of the school until such time a future female Alden graduates, leaving 1938 as the deadline. Move forward two hundred years. The school still stands, with new surroundings and hip youngsters such as Betty and Jackie (Betty Grable and Jackie Coogan) gathered together with fellow co-eds at an eatery called The Hangout. Gracie, the decedent of that Alden girl from 1738, having attended college for nine years, must pass her examination in order to graduate and inherit the fortune as required. With the help of Bob Brady (Bob Hope), her private tutor, he writes the answers on a laundry ticket placed on the bench beside her, with Gracie answering all the questions correctly, much to the surprise of George Jonas (George Burns), one of the committee members. After graduating, Gracie inherits the college and becomes the dean of men. Later, Bob encounters Mabel (Martha Raye), disguised as the French woman, Professor "Theresa," The two immediately hit it off and become an item of oddities; while Martin Bates (John Payne) falls in love with Virginia "Ginna" Ashburn (Florence George), the president's daughter after serenading to her dressed up as Cupid (being part of the initiation); Martin's uncle, Hubert Dash (Horton), a decedent of the founder of Alden College, who has a phobia towards women, becomes interested in Gracie to a point of asking her to marry him. When the faculty suspects Gracie hasn't passed her examinations honestly, it's agreed that she must take them again publicly, leaving Bob to think up a new scheme to have Gracie pass the exams or else he'll be out of $25,000.

With songs by Frank Loesser, Burton Lane, Hoagy Carmichael and Manning Sherwin, the motion picture soundtrack includes: "Ding Dong," (sung by Boy Choir); "College Swing" (Betty Grable and Skinney Ennis); "What Did Romeo Say to Juliet?" (John Payne and Florence George); "I'm Tired" (comedy act performed by The Slate Brothers); "How 'Ja Like to Love Me?" (sung by Martha Raye and Bob Hope); "Please?" (Jerry Colonna); "I Fall in Love With You Every Day" (Florence George and John Payne); "You're a Natural" (sung by Gracie Allen); "Irish Jig" (danced by Gracie Allen); "What a Rumba to Romance" (sung by Martha Raye, with Ben Blue); and "College Swing" (finale/ cast). With Raye hogging most of the songs, Gracie comes off best with her pleasing vocalization, even in character, and dancing wonderfully for no apparent reason.

In between the flimsy storyline are song and dance numbers with an assortment of characters whose roles are not fully developed. There's doses of comedy acts including the Slate Brothers (a cross between the Three Stooges and the Ritz Brothers) as slapstick waiters. In the tradition of the Three Stooges, there's eye-poking involved by the Slates, Martha Raye giving one to Bob Hope and Ben Blue (the latter in his usual interpretation of a confused individual). Jerry Colonna, the one with the large mustache and big round eyes, does one of his scream song signatures impersonating Bing Crosby. Look fast for Robert Cummings in a bit as a radio announcer; band-leader Skinney Ennis singing and dancing with Betty Grable; and Cecil Cunningham as Dean Sleet.

Of the "College" Paramount musicals, only COLLEGE SWING made it to video cassette in 1993 and later DVD as part of the "Bob Hope Signature Collection," double featured with Hope's feature debut, THE BIG BROADCAST OF 1938. Both musicals have one thing in common, each containing a plot without a plot, relying mostly on old-fashioned vaudeville routines inter-wined with songs passing as a story. While not the best of its kind, COLLEGE SWING is good enough entertainment to pass along the time of 87 minutes, redeemed by familiar faces and future stars in so-so material and fine songs. A pity Burns and Allen didn't get to interact more together with their familiar routines. "Good Night, Gracie." .(**1/2)

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