19 August 2007 | billintucson3
Nice surprise for William Boyd fans
The story of the brash, egotistical and selfish young student/cadet/draftee/military man who goes to college/military school/or is drafted into the service, earns the animosity of his classmates and nearly loses the girl he loves (usually the commandant's daughter or his roommate's sister) until he redeems himself by unselfishly risking his own life to save a buddy in a climatic action sequence, was already a cliché in 1927. As early as 1911 Edgar G. Wynn starred in the first version of BROWN OF HARVARD. A re-make with Tom Moore as Tom Brown was made in 1918 and in 1926 the year before this film, William Haines had done it twice (with variations of course) in another remake of BROWN OF HARVARD and in TELL IT TO THE MARINES opposite the great Lon Chaney. Robert Taylor did it in 1938 as A YANK AT OXFORD, it's the sub-plot of Abbott and Costello's BUCK PRIVATES (1941) with Lee Bowman as the cocky hero and Rob Lowe took his turn (to the point of almost being obnoxious) in OXFORD BLUES (1984). "TOP GUN" (1986) with Tom Cruise was a high tech revision. And there were countless B-movie versions.
DRESS PARADE is little more than an uncredited re-make. Here we have the very likable William Boyd as the not so likable hero, eight years before his long run starring as Clarence Mulford's Hopalong Cassidy, giving a surprisingly good account of himself in what is basically a comedy role. The girl is adorable Bessie Love who has little to do except look pert and pretty and adorable, all of which she does very well. Hugh Allan is so very effective and shows such promise as Boyd's rival that you wonder why his screen career was negligible.
Donald Crisp learned both film acting and directing under the tutelage of D. W. Griffith but his skill as a director was minimal compared to his acting. His best work was as Buster Keaton's co-director for THE NAVIGATOR (1924), but Keaton undoubtedly deserves the major share of the credit for that magnificent comedy. Crisp does only a fair job directing this minor entertainment.
Much too formulaic to be anything more than a mild diversion except for fans of William Boyd who will be pleasantly surprised.