Friday, April 18, 2014


Bing Crosby made quite an impact as a leading man in his first feature film The Big Broadcast in 1932. Paramount Studios quickly signed him up to a contract and next up for Bing would be the college musical College Humor. In this film at least they had the decency to cast 30 year old Bing as a professor. As students they had 30 year old Jack Oakie and 34 year old Richard Arlen! This film was basically a Jack Oakie movie with Bing thrown in for added appeal.

Barney Shirrel (Jack Oakie) starts his first semester at Mid West University and works his way up in the fraternity with the help of Tex Roust (Joe Sawyer) and Mondrake (Richard Arlen), an alcoholic college football star. Barney is passionate about engineering and the law, and between his varied studies, football, and the fraternity, he neglects his girl friend Amber (Mary Kornman).

In the next term, Mondrake gives his class sweater to Barney's sister Barbara (Mary Carlisle). His drinking problem intensifies, however, when he learns that Barbara is falling in love with Professor Danvers (Bing Crosby), the singing drama teacher. When Mondrake fails to show up at an important football game against a rival university, Danvers finds him in jail. With the school's reputation at stake, Danvers has him released and takes him to the football field in time to play in the game.

Afterwards, Danvers is called before the college president (Lumsden Hare). Although rivals for Barbara's affections, Danvers stands up for Mondrake. The college president expels Mondrake for drunkenness and forces Danvers to resign because of his involvement in the matter. Feeling guilty over causing Mondrake's expulsion, Barbara proposes marriage to him. Later, however, she admits that she is not in love with him, but with Danvers. Mondrake bows out of the relationship, and Barbara rushes to Danvers' side before he leaves.

During the next term, Barney has followed Mondrake's example and taken up drinking and smoking, which is not appealing to Amber. At the big football game, Barney is in sorry shape. Mid West is losing until he receives inspiration from Tex, who has returned to watch the game. After being knocked out, Barney recovers and wins the game for Mid West.

Some time later, Barney and Amber get married and they move to his father's dairy, where Barney works his way up from the lowest position. Barney and Amber enjoy listening to Danvers singing his song on the radio.

The best part of the film was Bing's singing, and he sang some good ones like: "Down The Old Ox Road", "Moonstruck", and "Learn To Croon". Another wonderful draw of the film is Mary Carlisle, who is with us as of this writing, at the age of 101. She is probably the last person alive who was involved in this 80 year old film. There was not enough Bing and Mary Carlisle, and too much Jack Oakie for my taste. The only movie I ever liked Oakie in was The Great Dictator in 1940. I loved my years in college, but I only remotely liked this collegiate offering. If it was not for Bing, this film would have been a horrible bomb...


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