Sunday, November 08, 2020

Tonight's Movie: All-American Co-Ed (1941) - A ClassicFlix DVD Review

Over the last few months I've been enjoying the Hal Roach Streamliners collections released on DVD by ClassicFlix.

They've proven to be fun sets of short movies which usually run somewhere around 45 minutes, give or take five minutes.

One of the most recent ClassicFlix releases in this series is The Complete Hal Roach Streamliners Collection, Volume 4: The Musicals.  It contains a trio of films: ALL-AMERICAN CO-ED (1941), FIESTA (1941), and FLYING WITH MUSIC (1942). 

ALL-AMERICAN CO-ED is an exceedingly lightweight film redeemed by the presence of songstress Frances Langford.  

Mar Bryn, an all-girls horticultural school, is struggling with low enrollment, so as a publicity gimmick it offers scholarships to beauty queens with titles such as the Cherry Queen and the Corn Queen.  If you look hard you might even spot Marie Windsor in one of her first films, as the Carrot Queen!

The girls' college also manages to insult a fraternity at the local men's college, so in retribution one of the men, Bob (Johnny Downs), enrolls  at Mar Bryn dressed in drag, pretending to be Bobbie, "Queen of the Flowers."  I'm not sure why that was supposed to be an insult to Mar Bryn, but the plot is pretty low on logic as it is.

Complications ensue when Bob/Bobbie falls in love with Virginia (Langford), niece of the university president (Esther Dale).

It's all very silly, and the extended drag scenes are frankly tiresome, but I'll sit through a lot to watch Langford sing, and since the movie is only 49 minutes long, it wasn't too painful making it through till the end.  It might not be a great film, but I really appreciated crossing another Langford title off my list.

Langford's songs include "Out of the Silence" by Lloyd B. Norlin, which interestingly enough received an Oscar nomination for Best Song, losing to Kern and Hammerstein's "The Last Time I Saw Paris."  The movie also received a nomination for Best Music Scoring.

It's fun to pick familiar faces out of the cast, including Noah Beery Jr. and Marjorie Woodworth, who appeared in numerous Streamliners.  Elyse Knox, another Streamliners regular, has a bit part as a co-ed.  Allan "Rocky" Lane stands out among the fraternity men as he was then in his early 30s and seems too old for the group!  Alan Hale Jr. is also on hand in an early film appearance.

The cast also includes Lillian Randolph, Harry Langdon, Joe Brown Jr., Kent Rogers, Margaret Roach, and the singing Tanner Sisters.

LeRoy Prinz directed, with cinematography by Robert Pittack.

The DVD print and sound are quite acceptable for such an obscure movie, in line with the ClassicFlix Silver Series goal of getting affordable prints of rarely seen films into the hands of film enthusiasts.

ClassicFlix also recently released a fifth set, The Complete Hal Roach Streamliners Collection, Volume 5: Pitts & Summerville Plus Other Rarities.  I'll be taking a look at it at a future date, along with reviewing the remaining films I have yet to see from the first three volumes.

Thanks to ClassicFlix for providing a review copy of this DVD.


Blogger barrylane said...

Frances Langford is definitely an attraction and you nailed it.

10:04 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Listening to her always makes me happy. :)

Best wishes,

11:15 PM  

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