Saturday, October 6, 2012


Guest reviewer and Bing Crosby guru Bruce Kogan is back for his usual entertaining review of Bing's films. This time is the forgotten early Bing film College Humor (1933). The film is pretty much forgotten, but it is now available on DVD suprisingly... 

It's always been a source of amazement to me how Jack Oakie was able to keep playing dumb jock college students throughout the 30s. Yet he got away with it as he does here and when all's said and done, he's a pretty funny fellow.

In this one he has a coed sister played by Mary Carlisle who football jock and Oakie's fraternity pal Richard Arlen thinks he's got a claim on. But no, Carlisle has her eyes on music professor Bing Crosby.

This was Bing's second feature film and the first he'd make with Mary Carlisle. She and Bing were a perfect fit in those films. This is also the second feature film that Crosby would make with Burns & Allen. They are personal favorites of mine and I only wish we saw more of them as a pair of caterers at a fraternity party.

Bing recorded three of the songs from College Humor, the biggest hit being Learn to Croon which immortalized his Buh-Buh-Buh-Boo for the ages. It's a nice number done as Bing teaches a music class as we learn that all the past music immortals would eventually been buh-buh-buh-booing it with Der Bingle.

He sings a nice ballad to Mary Carlisle entitled Moonstruck and no it has nothing whatsoever to do with Cher's film two generations later. For once Paramount gave Crosby a Busby Berkeley like production number in Down the Old Ox Road which apparently was the slang term back in the thirties for the local college passion pit. The number travels all over the campus showing the students singing about the glories of Ox Road with Bing in the finale.

I think this is one of the early movies that Crosby did that doesn't hold up as well as the others. But I think none of those college films from the 30s do, with rare exceptions. In this one I don't think anyone was getting an education. Especially Jack Oakie, just see what he does with his college degree at the end.

College life has undergone so much change in the over 70 years since this film was made. I can't identify with any of it from the 60s so God only knows what college kids would think of it today. Still it's a fine old chestnut and anything with Der Bingle and George and Gracie you can't go wrong with...

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