SORORITY HOUSE is an entertaining 64-minute RKO programmer with an interesting behind-the-scenes pedigree: it was directed by John Farrow from a screenplay by Dalton Trumbo, photographed by Nicholas Musuraca (OUT OF THE PAST). It's a fun little movie about the perils of college sororities which is a forerunner to the later -- and longer -- Technicolor film TAKE CARE OF MY LITTLE GIRL (1951).
Alice Fisher (Anne Shirley) is thrilled when her father (J.M. Kerrigan), a small-town grocery store owner, surprises her with the news that she will be able to attend college. Almost immediately pretty young Alice meets a dashing medical student, Bill (James Ellison), who is deeply smitten.
Alice rooms with Dotty (Barbara Read) and Merle (Adele Pearce, who later acted under the name Pamela Blake). Alice also learns about sororities; Dotty, a sophomore, was rejected by sororities the previous year, and freshman Merle wants to join a sorority more than anything. Alice attracts the attention of a sorority, but does she really want to join?
The cast is quite good, and it would have been nice if the film had run another ten minutes or so, as one senses near the end that an explanatory scene or two could possibly have ended up on the cutting room floor.
Shirley is sweet as the innocent Alice, and Ellison is quite charming as Bill. I liked the fact that their romance was very straightforward and sincere from start to finish, without any complications; maybe that's a benefit of the film having been shorter! Shirley and Ellison also appeared together in MOTHER CAREY'S CHICKENS (1938) and ANNE OF WINDY POPLARS (1940). (Shirley famously took her acting name from the character she played in ANNE OF GREEN GABLES and WINDY POPLARS.)
Barbara Read (THREE SMART GIRLS) is especially likeable as the independent-minded Dotty. She has a nice presence, and the film is particularly enjoyable when she's on screen. Read acted through 1948 and at one point was married to actor William Talman (PERRY MASON).
Marge Champion, who later achieved fame dancing in MGM musicals, is clearly visible as one of the college coeds. According to IMDb, Veronica Lake and Robert Sterling also have bit parts, but I wasn't fast enough to spot them. Maybe next time!
The cast also includes Elisabeth Risdon, June Storey, Doris Davenport, Helen Wood, and Chill Wills.
This film would be fun on a double bill with TAKE CARE OF MY LITTLE GIRL or FINISHING SCHOOL (1934), another RKO film about a student (Frances Dee) romanced by a medical intern (Bruce Cabot).
SORORITY HOUSE has not had a DVD or VHS release, but it can be seen on Turner Classic Movies.