Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Lana Turner and Richard Carlson
DANCING CO-ED (1939). Director: S. Sylvan Simon.

"She stinks!"

Just when the Dancing Tobins are to begin a new film, Toddy Tobin (a barely-seen Mary Beth Hughes) gets pregnant, and the search is on for someone to co-star with her husband, Freddy (Lee Bowman sans mustache). Learning that the studio is to conduct a talent search on college campuses, Freddy protests that he needs a professional, so it is decided to fix the contest, send talented Patty Marlowe (Lana Turner) to one of the institutions, and make damn certain that she is the winner. Patty gets involved with the editor of the school paper, "Pug" Braddock (Richard Carlson), who figures there has to be a "plant" and decides to ferret out who she is even as Patty assists him as a way of hiding the truth. Will Patty go to Hollywood, or will her scheme come undone? The movie begins well, but the fun peters out halfway through or earlier, and you'll find that you couldn't care less how it comes out. The script lets down the players, who are game and enthusiastic throughout, with Turner [Love Has Many Faces] and Carlson [All I Desire] swell in the leads, Ann Rutherford perky as a secretary who helps Patty, Leon Errol his usual fun self as Patty's father, and Thurston Hall and Monty Woolley also briefly on hand as well. I think I spotted drummer Buddy Rich a couple of times. Band leader Artie Shaw, playing himself, is third-billed but only gets one line of dialogue! He must have impressed Lana Turner, however, because she married him the following year [he also married Ava Gardner and Evelyn Keyes, among others]. Hal Le Sueur, Joan Crawford's brother, plays a handsome college student but has no lines. S. Sylvan Simon also directed the far superior The Fuller Brush Man.

Verdict: Picture could have been cute but it turns into a stink bomb.**

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