6.8/10
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20 user 11 critic

The Male Animal (1942)

Approved | | Comedy, Romance | 4 April 1942 (USA)
It's Homecoming weekend at Midwestern University, the weekend which will culminate with the big game between Midwestern and Michigan. Homecoming marks the return for the first time in six ... See full summary »

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

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Patricia Stanley
...
Joe Ferguson
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Ed Keller
...
Michael Barnes
...
Cleota
...
Dean Frederick Damon (as Ivan Simpson)
...
Wally Myers
Jean Ames ...
'Hot Garters' Gardner
Minna Phillips ...
Mrs. Blanche Damon
Regina Wallace ...
Mrs. Myrtle Keller
...
Coach Sprague
...
Alumnus
Bobby Barnes ...
Nutsy Miller
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Storyline

It's Homecoming weekend at Midwestern University, the weekend which will culminate with the big game between Midwestern and Michigan. Homecoming marks the return for the first time in six years of alumnus All-American Joe Ferguson, whose world is all about football and especially his place in it. Mild-mannered English Professor Tommy Turner is able to handle the thought of Joe's return to campus as the ex-boyfriend of Tommy's wife of six years, Ellen Turner née Stanley, who is temperamentally more like Joe than him. Tommy knows that Ellen loves him, the reason he doesn't mind the thought of Joe. The weekend starts off well enough for Tommy in that he believes he is being promoted from associate to full professor, which if be the case would be much earlier than he or Ellen had expected. However, it comes to his attention that Michael Barnes, an idealistic student of his who is also the editor of the campus' literary magazine, has written an editorial for the upcoming edition of the ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

4 April 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Assim é que Elas Gostam  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Don Defore created the role of "Wally Myers" in the original Broadway cast. When this movie was remade as the musical, "She's Working Her Way Through College," Defore took the role based on "Joe Ferguson." See more »

Quotes

Ellen Turner: You'd better take a hot water bottle to bed with you.
Prof. Tommy Turner: Nice of you to arrange for a substitute.
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Soundtracks

The Stars and Stripes Forever
(1896) (uncredited)
Music by John Philip Sousa
Played when Tommy and Ellen are carried to the carriage
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User Reviews

 
Cute at times, but it's pretty trite overall
19 July 2005 | by (Milwaukee, WI) – See all my reviews

There are some actors and actresses who can seamlessly cross film genres, and then there are some who don't. While I have not seen a lot of comedies starring Olivia de Havilland, I do know that from what I have seen, despite the occasional moments of inspiration (her turn as a young, star struck debutante in "It's Love I'm After" was particularly charming) she really does her best work in melodramas. Unfortunately, in Elliott Nugent's 1942 film "The Male Animal", de Havilland proves that her successful comedic turns are most certainly an exception and not the rule.

"The Male Animal" focuses on Tommy Turner, (Fonda) an English professor at Midwestern College in Michigan. His effervescent wife Ellen (de Havilland) is both celebrating her birthday and planning a dinner party the eve of the small college town's biggest football game of the year. Tommy, a fairly serious academic, is vexed when he finds out that one of their weekend guests will be Joe Ferguson, the former captain of the football team and all-around campus hero. Joe and Ellen have a romantic history together (she was head cheerleader to his football hero), an element that is further complicated when he finds out that Joe is recently separated from his wife. A subplot involving Ellen's younger sister Patricia and her two beaus mirror Ellen's situation; boyfriend #1, Wally, is the current football star and boyfriend #2, Michael, is a scholar. The two plots collide when Michael writes an editorial for the school paper hailing Tommy's decision to read a letter written by Bartolomeo Vanzetti (of Sacco-Vanzetti fame) in his class the following Monday. Tommy soon becomes a target for the school's trustees and his job situation becomes unstable while he decides whether he is going to succumb to the trustees and not read the letter, or exercise his academic and personal rights. Between his job situation and his fear of losing his wife, Tommy ends up having an unprecedented weekend.

Like the plot itself, "The Male Animal" is conflicted in the kind of movie it wants to be. On one hand, it is a goofy physical comedy wrought with misunderstandings worthy of Shakespeare (or Three's Company), yet it throws in a fairly compelling subplot concerning the freedom of speech element that is great on its merits, but coupled with the silliness around it, it doesn't quite fit. Fonda is a great, laid-back actor who doesn't look lost with comedy, and while my first impression is that he looked a little lost and befuddled during the high hilarity, I can safely attribute that to the character that he played. de Havilland, on the other hand, is charming for a total of 15 minutes of her screen time and spends the rest of the film being shrill and acting helpless. It is films like this that remind me of her comedic limitations; actresses such as Bette Davis or Myrna Loy are able to slide effortlessly between the comedic and dramatic genres I think, because they have a wryness about that. Davis is able to deliver a comedic line with a whip smart raise of an eyebrow and Loy has the aplomb and class to deliver a line with typical dry humor. de Havilland, at least in my experience, doesn't always possess these gifts, and therefore failed in this film. Jack Carson played the same kind of role here as he did in "Mildred Pierce" or "Arsenic and Old Lace"; he is predictable, but his predictability works.

"The Male Animal" is billed as a comedy/romance, and there is indeed some comedy and some romance. Unfortunately, by throwing in a heavy subplot involving something as important (and, admittedly, refreshing) as freedom of speech, particularly when it involves a convicted anarchist, it both waters down the romantic comedy aspects and lessens the effectiveness of the statement it is trying to make about personal and academic freedoms. If the film had either handled these conflicting themes better, or gave up on one or the other entirely, the film may have been more enjoyable, but as it was presented, and despite the fact that it featured a couple of actors I really enjoy, I can only give "The Male Animal" a 5/10.

--Shelly


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