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Ernest B. Schoedsack
A governor's idea of how to get votes is a unique one
John Barrymore, George Murphy and Joan Davis star in "Hold that Coed," a 1938 film about politics and football. Murphy plays a football star turned coach of a state university, which has no funding and no equipment for its football players. Governor Gabby Harrigan (John Barrymore) is running for a Senate seat and has slashed the school's funding even further. The students, led by the coach, head for his office to protest. Harrigan refuses to see them; a horrendous fight breaks out when the police arrive. The governor's secretary (Marjorie Blake) and his advisors warn him that his decision to cut funding and refusal to meet the students is going to cost him votes. He decides to do a switch - to pour money into the school and build a huge stadium which will also serve as a place to champion his election to the Senate.
Of course, the school has to play only the biggest college teams. Just one problem - this team is a big loser. So a female (Davis) who is an amazing kicker is drafted, and two professional wrestlers who quit school are given government positions and put on the team.
"Hold that Coed" is a funny satire with the kind of wild performance by John Barrymore that one expects by 1938 when he was well in his cups. Like his fellow politico, Ronald Reagan, George Murphy was an attractive, light leading man, but he could also sing and dance. Though the music in this movie isn't much, it's pleasant, as is Murphy, who never tried to move out of his range or go over the top. Joan Davis is funny as the tomboyish kicker - before she kicks, she does mincing type movements. Someone complained about the finale, which includes problems with strong winds; I didn't mind it.
The film, of course, belongs to Barrymore. You can never take your eyes off of him, and even when he hams it up, he's great. I never thought he was a hammy actor unless it was called for - and as the governor, he could be nothing else. Certainly his performances in "Bill of Divorcement," "The Great Man Votes" and dozens of his other films prove his brilliance as an actor.
Recommended; very enjoyable.
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