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A Yank at Oxford

A Yank at Oxford(1938)

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NOTES

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This was the first of four films made by M-G-M at their British studios in Denham, England and, according to a news item in Motion Picture Daily, it cost $900,000 to make. Reviews note that the production was not allowed to film any sequences at Oxford University itself and had to use studio streets and sets to represent it. An ad in Hollywood Reporter on February 24, 1938 notes that portions of the film were shot on location at Denham Court, Buckinghamshire, England. Some of the picture was also shot at M-G-M's main studio in Culver City, CA. According to a pre-production news item in Hollywood Reporter, Elliott Morgan, who was an Oxford student, was to act as technical advisor for the film. A news item in Daily Variety notes that some rewrites were needed on the script to accommodate English audiences; however, some unidentified contemporary British reviews contained in the BFI Library file on the film expressed the opinion that it still presented an unrealistic picture of English university life. An article in Life magazine on the film notes that M-G-M was trying to give popular star Robert Taylor a less "pretty boy" image by including considerable footage in the film illustrating his athletic abilities and by releasing publicity shots of him working out in preparation for his role. According to a news item in Hollywood Reporter, when Taylor's boat landed in England shortly before the start of the picture, thousands of female British fans crowded the docks to greet him. Later news items noted that a continual deluge of publicity about Taylor started to "backfire" in England by the time the film started production, however.
       When the picture had its London premiere at the Empire Theatre, a direct broadcast was made for M-G-M's Good News radio program. The film's stars, plus M-G-M head Louis B. Mayer were on the broadcast, as was Gilbert Russell, a popular radio personality known in England as Val Rosing. The broadcast was heard at 9:00 p.m. in New York and at 3:00 a.m. in London, according to the news item. According to a modern source, Mayer's anger that an "unknown" actress, Vivien Leigh, was cast in the second female lead increased a rift between himself and the film's producer, Michael Balcon, who was also the head of production at M-G-M British. The rift soon resulted in Balcon's resignation and the appointment of Ben Goetz to the post. M-G-M recreated the theme of A Yank at Oxford for its 1942 Mickey Rooney film, A Yank at Eton. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy satirized its title in 1940 in the Hal Roach production of A Chump at Oxford. When the 1984 M-G-M/UA film Oxford Blues, directed by Robert Boris and starring Rob Lowe, was released, it was called a remake of A Yank at Oxford, but its plot bears only a vague resemblance to the 1938 film. An earlier M-G-M film, Huddle (1932, ), contained an incident within the story that is very similar to the part of A Yank at Oxford involving a woman sneaking into a man's quarters and another person covering for him, but the later film does not credit any of the screenwriters of the earlier film, or the author of the original novel on which it was based.