16 November 2009 | kevinolzak
Mildly amusing Damon Runyon types
1935's "Hold 'Em Yale" is an amusing comedy starring Patricia Ellis as a spoiled socialite who cannot resist uniforms, her wealthy father (George Barbier) paying a steep price for such casual affairs. She has now fallen for a gigolo called Georgie the Chaser (Cesar Romero), who leaves the poor girl in a New York apartment when he learns that she has been disowned by her old man. Stuck with her in the same place are a quartet of small-time ticket scalpers with colorful names: Sunshine Joe (William Frawley), Liverlips (Andy Devine), Sam the Gonoph (Warren Hymer), and Bennie South Street (George E. Stone), who have also been abandoned by former go-between Georgie. Just when you begin to wonder how a title promising one of college football's greatest rivalries could go so wrong, they convince her to join them at the annual Yale-Harvard game, in an attempt to fix her up with her childhood sweetheart, Hector Wilmot (Buster Crabbe), a bookworm riding the bench for Yale. Edward Gargan (brother of William) plays a private detective working for the socialite's father, and Lon Chaney Jr. can be spotted wearing a hood as another football player riding the bench for Yale (no dialogue, just an extra). It's not a bad thing to see Cesar Romero departing a third of the way through the picture, while William Frawley and company provide all the laughs from then on (lifelong buddies Lon Chaney and Andy Devine may have met on this film, working together in several titles at Universal). Buster Crabbe and Lon Chaney would be back in another Paramount campus comedy the following year, "Rose Bowl," while Lon's final role on the football field found him riding the bench once more in the Ritz Brothers' "Life Begins in College." Damon Runyon's original story of the same title was published in a 1931 issue of Collier's.