Monday, August 05, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Harmon of Michigan (1941)

College football star Tom Harmon stars in HARMON OF MICHIGAN (1941), an ersatz biopic from Columbia Pictures.

I was curious about HARMON OF MICHIGAN for two reasons: The leading lady is Anita Louise, and I was curious to see a film starring Mark Harmon's dad.

The film is one of the stranger movies I've seen in the last year or two. Other than Harmon playing someone named Tom Harmon who's an All-American football player for the University of Michigan, the rest of the film apparently has no connection with reality.

As one example, Tom marries fellow collegiate Peggy Adams (Louise), an aspiring journalist, while in real life Harmon would marry actress Elyse Knox in 1944; they remained married until Harmon's passing in 1990.

This short 65-minute film follows Harmon through a succession of coaching jobs, including one where his dangerous plays lead to controversy, resignation, and abandonment by Peggy. Harmon is ultimately humbled and matures, regaining the respect of his wife and old-timer coach "Pop" (Oscar O'Shea).

The film is little more than a curiosity. Harmon gets out his line readings decently enough but he's no actor, and his angular features give no hint that he would be the father of such a handsome son.

Anita Louise is quite lovely in this, and I enjoyed seeing it for her sake. She's turned up in several recently reviewed titles including MILLIE (1931), OUR BETTERS (1933), and GLAMOUR FOR SALE (1940).

It was also fun to see Lloyd Bridges and Larry Parks pop up briefly in the film. Otherwise, there really wasn't a whole lot more to it. Film biographies of the era were often merely "inspired" by a real person's life, but it was especially odd in this case since it starred the actual person depicted and was so thoroughly disconnected from the truth.

Here's a fun series of photos Harmon and Louise shot on the University of Michigan campus around the time they made the film:

HARMON OF MICHIGAN was directed by Charles Barton and filmed in black and white by John Stumar.

This film is available on a "manufactured on demand" (MOD) DVD from Sony. The print quality is very good.


Blogger barrylane said...

The answer to your question is Elyse Knox.

7:21 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older