The trustees of Midwestern University have forced three teachers out of their jobs for being suspected communists. Trustee Ed Keller has also threatened mild mannered English Professor ... See full summary »



(screen play), (screen play) | 3 more credits »

On Disc

at Amazon

1 win. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A pilot falls in love with a woman he believes is heading cross country to become a maid, little suspecting that she's actually a princess.

Director: Norman Krasna
Stars: Olivia de Havilland, Robert Cummings, Charles Coburn
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Quick tempered but likable Biff Grimes falls for beautiful Virginia Brush, but he is not the only young man in the neighborhood who is smitten with her.

Director: Raoul Walsh
Stars: James Cagney, Olivia de Havilland, Rita Hayworth
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A depiction of the love/hate relationship between Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A formal tailcoat that gets passed from one owner to another affects each life in a significant way.

Director: Julien Duvivier
Stars: Charles Boyer, Rita Hayworth, Ginger Rogers
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Alexander Graham Bell falls in love with deaf girl Mabel Hubbard while teaching the deaf and trying to invent means for telegraphing the human voice. She urges him to put off thoughts of ... See full summary »

Director: Irving Cummings
Stars: Don Ameche, Loretta Young, Henry Fonda
Johnny Eager (1941)
Certificate: Passed Crime | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

District Attorney's daughter falls in love with a gangster the D.A. is trying to put in jail.

Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Stars: Robert Taylor, Lana Turner, Edward Arnold
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

After 17 years, things have got too predictable and stale. They argue, they visit a marriage counselor, Richard (drunk) visits a prostitute. They split up. After meeting other people, they ... See full summary »

Director: Bud Yorkin
Stars: Dick Van Dyke, Debbie Reynolds, Jason Robards
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A young woman (Stanley Timberlake) dumps her fiancée (Craig Fleming) and runs off with her sister's (Roy Timberlake) husband (Peter Kingsmill). They marry, settle in Baltimore, and Stanley ... See full summary »

Director: John Huston
Stars: Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, George Brent
Devotion (1946)
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Genius authors Emily and Charlotte Bronte fall in love with their curate as they seek to get their work published.

Director: Curtis Bernhardt
Stars: Olivia de Havilland, Ida Lupino, Paul Henreid
Black Widow (1954)
Drama | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A young writer insinuates herself into the life of a Broadway producer.

Director: Nunnally Johnson
Stars: Ginger Rogers, Van Heflin, Gene Tierney
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A fairly well-to-do family takes in 2 troubled orphans since no one else will take them.

Director: Norman Taurog
Stars: Cary Grant, Betsy Drake, Lurene Tuttle
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

A jealous and insecure newlywed man interferes with his wife's medical work in order to prevent her from seeing attractive male patients.

Director: Wesley Ruggles
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Edgar Buchanan


Complete credited cast:
Ivan F. Simpson ...
Dean Frederick Damon (as Ivan Simpson)
Don DeFore ...
Jean Ames ...
Minna Phillips ...
Regina Wallace ...
Coach Sprague
William B. Davidson ...
Bobby Barnes ...
Nutsy Miller


The trustees of Midwestern University have forced three teachers out of their jobs for being suspected communists. Trustee Ed Keller has also threatened mild mannered English Professor Tommy Turner, because he plans to read a controversial piece of prose in class. Tommy is upset that his wife Ellen also suggested he not read the passage. Meanwhile, Ellen's old boyfriend, the football player Joe Ferguson, comes to visit for the homecoming weekend. He takes Ellen out dancing after the football rally, causing Tommy to worry that he will lose her to Joe. Written by Will Gilbert

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

4 April 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Assim é que Elas Gostam  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Two of the "college students" in the cast went on to be well-known TV dads in the 1960s: Herbert Anderson (Dennis the Menace (1959)) and Don DeFore (Hazel (1961)). See more »


Prof. Tommy Turner: [Reading Vanzetti's writing sample, at 1:35:40] If it had not been for these things, I might have lived out my life talking at street corners to scorning men. I might have died, unmarked, unknown, a failure. Now we are not a failure. Never in our full life can we hope to do such work for tolerance, for justice, for man's understanding of man, as now we do by accident. Our words - our lives - our pains - nothing! The taking of our lives - lives of a good shoemaker and a poor fish peddler - all! ...
See more »


The Old Grey Mare
Played during the opening credits and later sung with modified lyrics as a football fight song
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Slight comedy set on Midwest college campus
24 May 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"The Male Animal" is an enjoyable film about a Midwest college town and the faculty and alumni. It's a comedy-romance that's built around a theme of freedom of speech. Henry Fonda plays Professor Tommy Turner who creates a brouhaha by selecting a letter by Bartolomeo Vanzetti to read in his English class. Vanzetti was one of two convicted criminal anarchists who was executed in 1927 for the murder of a guard during a robbery. The case would have been remembered yet by people in the 1940s, but by few today. I had to look it up to see if it was fiction or real.

I read a great deal more about it, because it was very interesting. Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco were associated with a gang that planted bombs and disrupted industry in the U.S. in the 1910s. But, because they were Italian immigrants, there was a lot of sentiment that they were unjustly tried. It became such an international incident that large throngs of people held protest riots around the globe. Huge damage was done in Paris, London and other cities. So, in these years well after that time, James Thurber and Elliott Nugent included a letter written by Vanzetti while in prison, that protested his innocence, as part of a play they wrote, "The Male Animal." It became a major Broadway hit in 1939, and that led to Warner Brothers getting the movie rights.

Anyone watching this movie without the background knowledge would rightly think Tommy's choice was lame of this letter to read as an example in his English course. But, because of the civil unrest associated with the Vanzetti case, Thurber and Elliott might have thought that would register in the minds of the audience as a reason for the subsequent student protest in the play and movie.

Well, that was just the premise that the rest of the story is built around. The freedom of speech aspect itself was pretty lame. I suspect that the comedy went over much more on stage than it does in this film. The script is not overly witty or funny. A few of the situations are funny, but the humor is provided most often by other characters in the film. Olivia de Havilland is quite good as the doting wife of the professor, Helen Turner, who's bent on his moving up in the college leadership. And, this is another film when Jack Carson shines in his supporting role, here as Joe Ferguson. As the former star of the Midwestern University's football team, Carson is very funny. To the writer's credit, he isn't made out to be an oaf. He's an alum and dedicated sports fan around whom the college benefactors can be expected to rally to continue their support for the school. The film becomes consumed with Tommy's fear that Helen may still love Joe.

Other supporting members of the cast do credible jobs in their roles. But, overall this film is just so-so. And that may be more because of Hank Fonda than anyone else. Fonda was a very good actor, who didn't do comedy very well. He couldn't hold a candle in comedy to Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Fred MacMuray, William Powell or half a dozen other top actors. Fond had few comedies to his credit, but for every one that was a success, there were two that weren't. And, the successes were due more to his co-stars than to Fonda. He was best in dramatic roles. He made some nice mysteries as well, and also did very well in Westerns. But comedy was not his forte.

"The Male Animal" is a film that many would enjoy on a weekend afternoon. But it's not a movie to add to a film library.

0 of 0 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Who? cnb
Best Movie Drunk rivieran
Why aren't there more threads? :( vivacious_dan
Discuss The Male Animal (1942) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: