25 April 2012 | bkoganbing
Good Old Siwash College
Those Were The Days marked William Holden's fourth film since Golden Boy and his first starring role in a Paramount picture. As they were the studio that discovered him, Paramount was finally getting a return on the money they invested in him. Holden had one of the more unusual contract agreements in Hollywood, he was split down the middle between Paramount and Columbia, the price he paid for Columbia using him as a complete unknown in his first starring film Golden Boy.
The film is narrated by another cast member who is given aged makeup as is Holden and leading lady Bonita Granville. The story of their meeting and courtship is told when both were students at a most progressive university in 1904, Siwash College which was daringly coed.
From his first moment on campus, Bill Holden sees himself as a big man on it. He's quite the campus cutup at Siwash, but a real bad bit of business culminating with him stealing an electric streetcar and running it off the tracks and crashing it into a building. He gets before the stern town judge Vaughn Glaser and now what to do before Glaser curtails his academic career.
Answer, start putting the moves on Bonita Granville the judge's daughter who goes to Siwash and who Holden barely gave a passing glance before. I think you know where this is going and you'd be right, especially since the film is told in flashback.
Paramount did a good job in recreating the college atmosphere of the Teddy Roosevelt era. I was waiting for Frank Merriwell to show up with tales of his athletic exploits that seemed all that was missing.
Radio's Henry Aldrich, Ezra Stone plays Holden's roommate and only real friend on the campus and there's a nice subplot involving Stone with coed Judith Barrett who has taken fraternity pins from several young men including him. And she wears them proudly like a decorated war hero. As this was the beginning of the last century I'm sure what she did to earn them was G-rated.
Paramount cast several of their young players as fraternity boys, those who did and didn't give their pins to Ms. Barrett. Among them are Richard Denning and Douglas Kennedy who would have some fair careers. But if you're not alert you'll miss Alan Ladd whose breakthrough would be coming in two years with This Gun For Hire at Paramount. If only someone had the presence of mind to give him some real screen time with William Holden with whom I'm he vied for roles at the White Mountain studio.
Those Were The Days is a pleasant nostalgic comedy/romance of a bygone era that did give Bill Holden's career a nice boost at the time.