3 December 2008 | bkoganbing
"Stand Navy Down The Field..... Army You Steer Shy -Ay-Ay-Ay"
The US service academies have been good ground for good films for as long as there have been movies. Two years before Navy Blue And Gold came out, Annapolis got the full Hollywood treatment from Warner Brothers in Shipmates Forever. The only difference here is that no one sings in this one.
Three midshipmen from different walks of life become roommates and one of them, Tom Brown, has a sister that his two friends, James Stewart have a friendly rivalry over. All three of them play football and go on to play football for the Naval Academy.
Robert Young is the playboy of the group who just sees the Academy as the way to meet a rich woman and retire young, no pun intended. James Stewart is an enlisted man with a big secret who wants a career in the Navy in the worst way. Tom Brown is a nice young kid, rich, but with a good heart. And his sister Florence Rice has the first two guys hormones racing round the Annapolis quadrant.
Both Young and Stewart go through differing crises and each has to examine what brought them to Annapolis. How they resolve things and how outside forces deal with them is the crux of Navy Blue And Gold.
Sam Wood directed the film and he had a nice eye for the tradition and ambiance that is the Naval Academy. Every film I ever saw about either West Point or Annapolis is reverent about the place and this is no different. The people that come here surrender their lives to lead those who defend our country. The Academies ask and get only the best and brightest.
The cast is rounded out with some well rounded character parts like Paul Kelly as the Naval Academy Football Coach, Samuel S. Hinds and Billie Burke as the parents of Rice and Brown, and most of all Lionel Barrymore as Skinny Dawes, the oldest graduate of the Academy and original starter on the Navy's first football squad.
It all ends in annual Army-Navy football game and need I tell you who wins it. Funny thing is that I could have taken the same story and turned it around and written it for the Army. No doubt it's been done already.
Seeing James Stewart all idealistic about the Navy and its traditions leaves you no doubt as to why he became a big star and why he was so good in roles like Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. Watching Stewart in his part as Tuck Cross is like seeing Jefferson Smith get a college education. Note that in 1937 Robert Young is billed over Stewart, but by 1940 when they did The Mortal Storm, the billing had reversed.
Navy Blue And Gold is one sentimental picture. But there are those of us who like our sentiment.