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John Barrymore gives a spirited performance in a good little film
By this time in Barrymore's career you couldn't be sure if you were going to get a completely on target performance out of him or if he was going to sleep-walk through his role. Let me assure you this is a good film for Barrymore enthusiasts to watch in which the Great Profile is spot-on as Governor Gabby Harrington who never goes wrong by taking the cynical approach when dealing with the voters.
The film starts out with Rusty Stevens (George Murphy) taking over the football coaching duties at State University. Unfortunately the team has no equipment, only one football, and no budget to do anything more about it since the governor has defunded the team. Rusty storms the governor's mansion with his team in tow and demands to see the governor about this problem. At first the governor is not at all interested - after all college students don't vote (you still had to be 21 at the time). However a romance blossoms between the governor's aide and Rusty, and she soon has the governor seeing things Rusty's way by phrasing things in terms of votes. Not only does Harrington restore funding to State U. in general, he builds the team a new stadium, convinced this will win him votes in his upcoming race for senator.
This is an entertaining yet goofy little film. There is a windstorm in the finale that looks like some comic device out of a Wheeler and Woolsey film, a senate race decided by a football game between rival schools, and musical numbers that are passable but overall suffer from what I can only call Fox-itis and are unmemorable and oddly placed. What is very memorable besides Barrymore is Joan Davis who - long before Title 9 - plays a girl who has managed to get a spot on the football team. Also of note is Jack Haley as the governor's aide who gets abused by the governor and chased by Joan Davis' character.
The players keep stating that they are in the south, and this satire is obviously aimed at Huey Long. However, just to keep you off track, nobody here has a southern accent. Plus, it is specifically mentioned that the state has no canals or zoos - so this could not be Louisiana. I'd recommend this one just to see Barrymore in a good performance late in his career in a movie in which his presence is pivotal to its success. I can't see it having worked without him.
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