Monday, April 06, 2015

Tonight's Movie: College Coach (1933) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

COLLEGE COACH (1933) is a fast-paced Warner Bros. film starring Pat O'Brien in the title role, supported by Dick Powell and a terrific cast. It's available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

O'Brien plays hard-driving college football coach Gore, who's recruited by Calvert University to revitalize their football program and refill the financially struggling school's coffers.

Coach Gore succeeds, but not without a cost; one of his star players (Powell), frustrated with the time needed for football, quits the team in order to focus on his chemistry studies, and Gore's beautiful but neglected wife Claire (Ann Dvorak) flirts with another of the football players (Lyle Talbot).

The football gear and scoreboards may be old, but the storyline remains timely today, delving into corruption in college sports, including bribing players with cars and putting them in easy classes and making sure they pass. A serious injury on the field is also an issue. The more things change, the more they stay the same!

With the exception of Powell, most of the characters are crooked, dimwitted, or make poor choices, but this being a pre-Code no one pays much for their sins. Even in his final scene, the coach is ready to risk his marriage once more when an attractive new coaching offer comes through.

The storyline is entertaining enough, but what really makes it fun is the cast and the location shooting. Look for John Wayne welcoming Powell back to school earlier in the film, and Ward Bond is in the background as Gore's assistant coach. Two burly character actors, Nat Pendleton (an Olympic wrestler in real life) and Guinn "Big Boy" Williams, are among the football players.

The cast also includes Hugh Herbert (mercifully fairly mild-mannered in this), Donald Meek, Arthur Hohl, Berton Churchill, Joe Sawyer, and more. One non-football player who flunks chemistry was a very familiar face but he's not listed on IMDb and I can't place his name.

The movie was filmed by Arthur Todd at both the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the Rose Bowl. Dear Old Hollywood has extensive information on these and other locations seen in the film.

This 76-minute movie was briskly directed by William A. Wellman. Incidentally, the UCLA series William A. Wellman, Hollywood Rebel begins at the Billy Wilder Theater this Friday, April 10th. I'll have more information on that series here in the near future. (Update: Here is info on the series!)

The Warner Archive DVD looks terrific. The DVD includes the trailer.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the WBShop.


Blogger Robby Cress said...

Thanks for the shout out Laura! Really enjoy this film. A great one to watch when ready to kick off football season :)

2:40 PM  

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