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Varsity Show 1937
Description: Winfield College students rebel vs a stodgy professor who won't permit "swing" melody be played in their varsity show. They appeal to a large Broadway alumnus and have him direct their show. What they don't know is that this "star's" last three shows were flops.
Released: 04 Sep 1937 Director: William Keighley Writers: Jerry Wald (screen play), Richard Macaulay (screen play), Sig Herzig (screen play), Warren Duff (screen play), Warren Duff (from an original story by), Sig Herzig (from an original story by) Actors: Dick Powell, Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians, Ted Healy, Rosemary Lane Genres: Musical
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See Varsity Show part 1/7 on youtube.

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See Varsity Show (1937) – Busby Be on youtube.

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See Varsity Show part 7/7 on youtube.

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See Varsity Show (1937) – Buck and on youtube.

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See Varsity Show (1937) – On with on youtube.

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See Varsity Show part 3/7 on youtube.

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See Varsity Show part 4/7 on youtube.

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See Varsity Show part 6/7 on youtube.

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See Buck and Bubbles Varsity Show on youtube.

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See Varsity Show (1937) on youtube.

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Varsity Show Reviews:

VARSITY SHOW (Warner Brothers, 1937), directed by William Keighley, is a college campus musical, in fact, Warners' only contribution to the college musical of the 1930s. Originally distributed in theaters at two hours in length, circulating prints are from the 1940s reissue at 79 minutes, with 40 mins of material clipped from the original negative and lost since then. Considering this edition happened to be the only known print in existence today, this review is taken on the basis from the edited version.The storyline starts with Ernie Mason (Fred Waring) and his fellow students of Winfield College rehearsing for the upcoming annual varsity show. Ernie, assistant to Professor Sylvester Biddle (Walter Catlett), the faculty adviser, finds he and the students aren't being given the freedom they need to place on a successful show. Biddle insists the present be done his method or none at all, in spite that his concepts are out-of-date and his refusal to let swing melody as part of the score. Janitors Buck and Bubbles come up with an concept in hiring Charles "Chuck" Daly (Dick Powell), a former alumnus actually a successful Broadway producer, to support direct the show. Betty Bradley (Priscilla Lane), Buzz Bolton (Johnnie Davis), Johnny "Rubberlegs" Stevens (Lee Dixon) and Trout (Sterling Holloway) volunteer in coming to Fresh York Town to locate Daly. At first Daly refuses, but because Daly has just closed his recent Broadway flop (his third in a row), he and his assistant, William W. Williams (Ted Healy) decide to return to Winfield College where they not only accept to support direct the varsity show, but become part of the fraternity by staying in the dormitory run by Mrs. Smith (Emma Dunn), as well as finding themselves suitable love partners, Daly with Barbara Steward (Rosemary Lane) and gravel voice Williams with Cuddles (Mabel Todd), a buck-tooth, bespectacled blonde with a very peculiar laugh.With the melody and lyrics by Johnny Mercer and Richard Whiting, the nice selection of songs from the 79 minute print includes: "The Varsity Show's Rehearsing Today at Three O'Clock" (sung by cast); "Old Lord Cole" (sung by Johnnie Davis); "We're Working Our Method Through College" (sung by Dick Powell); "I'm Dependable" (sung by Priscilla Lane and Fred Waring/ written by Tom Waring and Don Raye); "On With the Dance" (sung by Rosemary Lane); "You Got Something There" (sung by Dick Powell and Rosemary Lane); Tap dance solo act performed by Buck and Bubbles; "Have You Got Any Castles, Baby?" (sung by Priscilla Lane); "Love Is on the Air Tonight" (sung by Buck and Bubbles); "Have You Got Any Castles, Baby?" (tap dance by Buck and Bubbles); "On With the Dance" (sung by Buck and Bubbles); "Old Lord Cole" (sung by Johnnie Davis); "On With the Dance" (reprise); "You Got Something There" and "Love Is On the Air Tonight." If one looks very closely to the opening credits and to the list of songs, one tune, "Little Fraternity Pin," is listed but not heard in VARSITY SHOW. As much the storyline may be as predictable as any college musical of that time, the majority of the songs for this production were quite standard. Forgotten today, VARSITY SHOW includes the most entertaining college finale ever presented. Choreographed by Busby Berkeley, it did receive nominated for an Academy Award in the greatest dance direction category. Though it didn't win, VARSITY SHOW still demonstrates Berkeley's real ability in his constructive staging techniques. With Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians orchestrating the finale, the true present stopper centers upon an individual co-ed throwing a football on numerous opportunities across the scene over to a group of students to form themselves into spelled-out letters of well known universities as Yale, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Stanford. All these letters are used with color tiles with the underscoring to just about each familiar college song imaginable. It's an perfect production that makes up for whatever flaws the movie itself contains. Buck and Bubbles shouldn't go unnoticed. They, too, contribute to few nice dance routines. Not quite as effective and faster style of the Nicholas Brothers over at 20th Century-Fox, but a routinely style all their own. The helping cast includes: Halliwell Hobbes as Dean J.M. Meredith; Edward Brophy as Mike "Curly" Barclay; Ben Weldon, Robert Homans and Tom Kennedy. Lee Dixon, who was becoming a familiar face in the Warners musical starting with GOLD DIGGERS OF 1937 (1936), followed by taking second billing opposite Ruby Keeler in READY, WILLING AND ABLE (1937), and co-starring opposite Dick Powell in THE SINGING MARINE (1937), makes his final bow in VARSITY SHOW. In the edited version, he not only limited in his contribution to the storyline (though possibly had extensive scenes from the two hour edition), but had his name placed thirteenth in the closing cast credits. He soon scored successfully in the Broadway musical, OKLAHOMA (1943), and appeared one more time on screen in the western drama, ANGEL AND THE BAD MAN (Republic, 1946), starring John Wayne, before his death in 1953.VARSITY SHOW in show form is a pleasing musical with a bright score. (One can hope the missing footage will someday suffice and take the zone of the chopped-up copy on TCM). As for the cast, Dick Powell, Ted Healy, Rosemary Lane, Johnnie Davis and Mabel Todd appeared together again in other huge scale Warners musical, "Hollywood Hotel" (1937), that introduced the famous theme song, "Hooray for Hollywood." Directed entirely by Busby Berkeley, it lacked the nice musical finish that highlights VARSITY SHOW so well. Rah! Rah! Rah! (***1/2)


I was looking forward to seeing Varsity Present because of the fact that I owned the four Dick Powell Decca recordings that were made from songs in this film. The Tony Thomas book, the Movies of Dick Powell also told that it was a 2 hour film. In the abbreviated 80 minute ver I saw of it, I'm thinking there was a lot of material that was left out and may in fact actually be lost. Two of those songs Powell did not sing on the screen, Have You Got Any Castles Baby and Love Is On The Air Tonight. He did do a very great ver of You've Got Something There with Rosemary Lane and the song Moonlight On The Campus seems to have been edited out all together.Still even in the shortened ver Varsity Present is an entertaining bit of nonsense about a Broadway producer played by Powell who's had a run of terrible luck, but answers the call of the student body of his alma mater to produce their Varsity Show. It was the type of light weight material that Powell was desperately trying to receive out of doing at Warner Brothers, but Jack Warner wouldn't see him in anything else.Jack did give him a nice cast to work with however with a lot of very familiar hero actors going through their paces. Standing out are Ted Healy on loan from MGM testing Powell's assistant, Edward Brophy as the theater manager who's about to have a stroke because he can't receive an advance for rent from the college kids, and Walter Catlett who is very funny as the faculty adviser for the present who knows as much about putting on a present as Ginger Rogers running the Brooklyn Dodgers to quote other Dick Powell song from other film.Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians are here to supply the melody and chorus and Rosemary's sister Priscilla Lane is other student. The dancing talent is tops with Lee Dixon who had co-starred with Powell in Golddiggers of 1937 and the nice squad of Buck and Bubbles who I still remember from the Ed Sullivan Present as a lad. Richard Whiting and Johnny Mercer wrote the original songs that I liked so much.Varsity Present got an Academy Award nomination for Busby Berkeley in the genre of Dance Direction which was discarded in the Forties. Berkeley did one of his patented extravaganzas for a finale using the theme songs from few colleges and it's quite an eyeful and most entertaining.I hope one day we can receive a restored ver of Varsity Show. I'm betting a lot of nice material might be lost as it stands right now. I have a feeling I'd rate Varsity Present higher if we saw the director's cut.


This is not "Gold diggers of 1933" or "Footlight Parade," but it is a competent and fun musical. While not an "A" picture, it is a solid "B." There may not be anything nice here, but everything is loud, energetic and good. There are many tiny delights for folks willing to lookThis was directed by William Keighley between two perfect Errol Flynn films that he directed: "The Prince and the Pauper" and "Adventures of Robin Hood". He also did directed two fine James Cagney movies, "G Men" and "Each Dawn I Die". He also did the classic comedy, "The Boy Who Came to Dinner" The film has a bunch of fine second bananas, Walter Catlett, Sterling Holloway and Ted Healey. Catlett had bit parts in many classic comedies, for example, "Bringing up Baby" and "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town" He was a much in demand actor doing 50 movies between 1940 and 1944, getting 6th-10th billing in almost all of them. Adorable Sterling Holloway adds his great spaecy bits. Even Ted Healey, who is associated with the Three Stooges comes off well. He played the leader of the Three Stooges, a part that the Moe Fine took over when they split up. In the movie, he is referred to as a stooge and he plays the part convincingly.This is the first film for Priscilla and Rosemary Lane. There older sister, Lola, had been a star for eight years by this. All three sisters would continue to create films for about ten more years. While I'm unfamiliar with Rosemary Lane's films, Priscilla was in at least three classics, "Arsenic and Old Lace" "The Roaring Twenties" and Alfred Hitchcock's "Saboteur. Both sisters are delicious here.George Washington Lee and William Sublett as Buck and Bubbles do a couple of unbelievable dance routines.The finale is by Busby Berkeley. While folks are right to mission out that this football number is not one of his best, even average Busby Berkeley is better than most musical numbers by anybody else.Overall, the film doesn't dazzle, but it zips along, brightens the day and puts a smile on your face. I would love to see the missing 40 minutes.



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