WINTER CARNIVAL (1939) has been on my viewing wish list for a long time, thanks to a cast filled with favorites. I was finally able to catch up with it this weekend!
The movie, set during a festival weekend at Dartmouth College, has a great cast of interesting actors including Richard Carlson, Ann Sheridan, Joan (Brodel) Leslie, Marsha Hunt, Helen Parrish, Virginia Gilmore, and Robert Walker. They keep things fairly lively despite a meandering plot which has some pleasant moments but never really catches fire.
Sheridan plays Jill Baxter, who returns to visit Dartmouth College just as her sister Ann (Parrish) arrives, along with dozens of other girls, for the Winter Carnival. Jill, who has recently divorced an aristocrat, is reunited with Professor John Welden (Carlson) and they rekindle a relationship, encouraged by their married friends Lucy (Hunt) and Robert (Rocky Morgan).
Meanwhile Ann is elected Snow Queen, and 15-year-old Betsy (Leslie), masquerading as an older girl, falls in love with Larry (Jimmy Butler). Joan was only about 14 when this was filmed and was as cute as the proverbial button.
Gilmore and Walker play some of the many other students.
The film includes quite a bit of second unit footage shot at Dartmouth; some of it is atmospheric and adds interest. The actors don't seem to have left the backlot, with some of the cast acting in front of Dartmouth back projections.
The film is pretty ho-hum, despite the fact that supposedly at one point F. Scott Fitzgerald worked on the script! Robert Armstrong's scenes as an out-of-work reporter looking to cash in on Jill's presence at Dartmouth are particularly leaden.
I was glad to take a look at the film, and fans of the cast will likely want to do the same, but don't expect a great deal.
WINTER CARNIVAL was directed by Charles Reisner. It was filmed in black and white by Merritt B. Gerstad.
IMDb and Leonard Maltin list the running time as 105 minutes but the print I watched was 84 minutes long.