30 January 2008 | bkoganbing
Those Yale Are Quail
Stepping into the role that was usually reserved for Jack Oakie in these college films is Stu Erwin in Pigskin Parade. That substitution got for Erwin a nomination for Best Supporting Actor in the first year of the Supporting Players categories at the Academy Awards.
Pigskin Parade is typical of the college films of the Thirties when students were hardly expected to think about anything of social or political significance. The main thing on the minds of the folks at Yale was who to play in a tune up charity game before the big annual match with Hah-vard. In fact the one guy in the film who does think about issues is Elisha Cook, Jr. and he's a figure of ridicule. Although it is kind of funny how the fraternity boys use his radicalism to help them in their cause of victory over Yale.
But to the students and faculty at Texas State University in Prarie, Texas this is one big deal to show up those Yankees. They have a sad sack football team with a brand new coach from Yankeeland himself in Jack Haley. Although truth be told, it's his wife Patsy Kelly who's the real brains here. A lot of the comedy with Kelly and Haley involves her showing him up and not being too diplomatic about it.
In fact she has the unique idea of utilizing the championship basketball of the school as football players in a unique passing game. Kelly also with Betty Grable and Johnny Downs who discovers Stu Erwin, a natural quarterback in a melon field, heaving melons across it. Thrown in as a bargain is Erwin's little sister Judy Garland who becomes the team mascot.
This film was Judy's feature film debut, she would not make another film outside MGM until she left that studio and did A Star Is Born in 1954. Her songs are negligible, but her talent is apparent to all.
The best song in the film is done by another guy just getting started in the picture business. Tony Martin sings You're Slightly Terrific at a pep rally and he was also going places.
Further down the cast list is Betty Grable and even further down is Alan Ladd who you can see in some of the scenes at the fraternity house and at the football game.
Pigskin Parade is a pleasant enough film with a whole lot of talented people showing their stuff. Did these kids ever go to class in these schools?