19 September 2010 | AlsExGal
The supporting players and the musical numbers make this film
Unlike the 1947 version of this musical comedy, the two leads here are rather stiff, are not given too terribly much to do, and lack any perceivable chemistry. Top billed Mary Lawlor and Stanley Smith as Connie Lane and Tom Marlowe, respectively, play an unlikely collegiate couple. Tom is the star player on the football team at mythical Tait College. He has to pass a make-up exam in astronomy or he won't be able to play in Saturday's big game. Tom goes to his steady girlfriend, Pat, for help with studying. She says that astronomy is really the field of her friend Connie. Connie is a rather homely looking girl when the audience and Tom first see her, and Tom begrudgingly relents but is not looking forward to their study sessions. Connie's friends do a makeover on her before her first study date with Tom and - voilà - suddenly Tom is in love, even proposing almost from his first encounter. I know this is a musical comedy, but, really! Suppose the girl has annoying bad habits, insanity in her family, or layabout relatives or something. Someone should tell Tom that rushing is good in football, not in life. However, he learns this soon enough. You see, before Tom has had a chance to say anything to Pat about his newfound feelings for Connie, Pat announces their wedding plans. It seems Tom forgot that pesky marriage proposal he made to Pat, but Pat didn't.
That's the overriding story that gives us an excuse to see the really entertaining parts of the film which amount to a bunch of mini comedy sketches and musical numbers by the supporting players that I thoroughly enjoyed. Although I have to admit that Cliff Edwards appears to be the world's oldest underclassman, he is so entertaining with a remark here and a song there, in particular the catchy "I'm pessimistic", that I'll forget all of that. Penny Singleton - who isn't even billed in the top ten here - gives the blow-out musical performances of this film with "Varsity Drag" and her rendition of the title song "Good News". Bessie Love may be a musical talent in a musical film, but her contribution here is mainly as comedienne as the spritely mischievous coed Babe. The bad tempered and aptly named Beef thinks he has romantic claims on her but she has eyes for Bobbie, a less talented player on the team, and he has eyes for her. However, Bobbie would like to keep those eyes along with his teeth and nose, and if Beef finds out the chances of him keeping these things seem unlikely as Beef is very jealous of Babe.
Do note that the finale of this film is lost, but TCM has inserted publicity stills and title cards indicating what happens in this final scene.
Although made in 1930, this film is based on a 1927 hit play, thus it is very much steeped in the Jazz Age, with even a mentioning of raccoon coats in the prologue. If you like early talking films I do recommend this one.