Varsity Show


2h 1m 1937
Varsity Show

Brief Synopsis

A Broadway producer puts on a show at his alma mater.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Musical
Release Date
Sep 4, 1937
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 1m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
13 reels

Synopsis

The annual Varsity Show at Winfield College is shaping up to be rather dull under the uninspired direction of Professor Sylvester Biddle. In order to save the show and the Quadrangle Club that it supports, the students raise some money and approach former student, and current Broadway producer, Chuck Daly, with a request to take over the reins. As his last season has been disastrous, Daly agrees and arrives at Winfield with his manager, William Williams. Biddle has his own ideas, however, and refuses to let Chuck take over. Chuck is about to leave when he hears Barbara Stewart sing at the dance that evening. He is immediately attracted to Babs, as she is known, and he decides to stay. The students work with Chuck, but Biddle will stop at nothing to get rid of him. When the students try to give Biddle the mumps, he retaliates by giving a special exam that all the students manage to pass with the help of Betty Bradley, the smartest student on campus. Eventually, Biddle convinces the college administration that the production should be a college affair and he remains in charge. Chuck leaves, but the students find out the truth about his financial state and they decide to take their show to Broadway. They take over a dark theater and even the police who arrive to evict them are won over by the show. Their success ensures Chuck's future as a producer.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Musical
Release Date
Sep 4, 1937
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 1m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
13 reels

Award Nominations

Best Dance Direction

1938

Articles

Varsity Show


Screenwriter-producer Jerry Wald, winner of the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award at the Oscar® ceremonies of 1948, counted among his writing credits Varsity Show (1937), which brought Busby Berkeley an Oscar nomination for Best Dance Direction for his "Finale" number.

This Warner Bros. production was that studio's entry in the "college musical" vogue of the 1930s. Dick Powell stars as a Broadway producer who returns to his alma mater to stage a variety show, despite the protests of a faculty adviser (Walter Catlett) who disapproves of the new "swing" music. Powell schemes with the students to stage the show in an empty Broadway theater. Among others in the cast are the Lane sisters, Rosemary and Priscilla, in their film debuts; Ted Healy, in his final film appearance; George MacFarland, better known as "Spanky" from "Our Gang"; the dancing team of "Buck and Bubbles"; and Johnnie Davis.

The "Finale," performed to the accompaniment of Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians (also making their bow in movies), has the cast spelling out college letters, including those of Yale, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Stanford, as Berkeley makes use of his signature overhead "kaleidoscope" shots. The set, which took up a whole sound stage, centered on a staircase fifty feet high and sixty feet wide.

Other numbers in the score, written mostly by Richard Whiting with lyrics by Johnny Mercer (with some standard college tunes thrown in for good measure), include "Working Our Way Through College," sung by Powell; "Old King Cole," sung by Davis; "On With the Dance," sung by Rosemary Lane; "You Got Something There," sung by Powell and Rosemary Lane; and "Have You Got Any Castles, Baby?" sung by Priscilla Lane. Thanks in part to the generous helping of music, the movie originally ran almost two hours.

Wald (1911-1962) went on to produce many of Warner Bros.' most successful films of the 1940s, including Destination Tokyo (1943), Mildred Pierce (1945) and Johnny Belinda (1948). He formed a production company with Norman Krasna in 1950 and later was associated with Columbia and 20th Century Fox. Wald collaborated on many film scripts, often without taking credit.

Berkeley (1895-1976), a top Broadway dance director before turning to films in 1930, began his legendary association with Warner Bros. in 1933. Using innovative camerawork to further heighten his dazzling choreography, he eventually turned to directing. In 1939 he moved to MGM, where he guided such stars as Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland and Esther Williams through some of their most memorable movie moments on film.

Producer: Hal B. Wallis (Executive Producer, uncredited), Jack L. Warner (Executive Producer, uncredited), Louis F. Edelman (Associate, uncredited)
Director: William Keighley
Screenplay: Jerry Wald, Richard Macaulay, Sig Herzig, Warren Duff, from story by Duff and Herzig
Cinematography: Sol Polito, George Barnes ("Finale")
Editing: George Amy
Original Music: Richard A. Whiting, Roy Ringwald, Tom Waring
Art Direction: Carl Jules Weyl
Costume Design: Howard Shoup
Cast: Dick Powell (Charles "Chuck" Daly), Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians (Themselves), Ted Healy (William "Willy" Williams), Rosemary Lane (Barbara "Babs" Steward), Priscilla Lane (Betty Bradley), Walter Catlett (Prof. Sylvester Biddle), Johnnie Davis (Buzz Bolton), Ford Washington Lee and John William Sublett (as "Buck and Bubbles"), Sterling Holloway (Trout), George MacFarland (Hap).
BW-81m.

by Roger Fristoe
Varsity Show

Varsity Show

Screenwriter-producer Jerry Wald, winner of the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award at the Oscar® ceremonies of 1948, counted among his writing credits Varsity Show (1937), which brought Busby Berkeley an Oscar nomination for Best Dance Direction for his "Finale" number. This Warner Bros. production was that studio's entry in the "college musical" vogue of the 1930s. Dick Powell stars as a Broadway producer who returns to his alma mater to stage a variety show, despite the protests of a faculty adviser (Walter Catlett) who disapproves of the new "swing" music. Powell schemes with the students to stage the show in an empty Broadway theater. Among others in the cast are the Lane sisters, Rosemary and Priscilla, in their film debuts; Ted Healy, in his final film appearance; George MacFarland, better known as "Spanky" from "Our Gang"; the dancing team of "Buck and Bubbles"; and Johnnie Davis. The "Finale," performed to the accompaniment of Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians (also making their bow in movies), has the cast spelling out college letters, including those of Yale, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Stanford, as Berkeley makes use of his signature overhead "kaleidoscope" shots. The set, which took up a whole sound stage, centered on a staircase fifty feet high and sixty feet wide. Other numbers in the score, written mostly by Richard Whiting with lyrics by Johnny Mercer (with some standard college tunes thrown in for good measure), include "Working Our Way Through College," sung by Powell; "Old King Cole," sung by Davis; "On With the Dance," sung by Rosemary Lane; "You Got Something There," sung by Powell and Rosemary Lane; and "Have You Got Any Castles, Baby?" sung by Priscilla Lane. Thanks in part to the generous helping of music, the movie originally ran almost two hours. Wald (1911-1962) went on to produce many of Warner Bros.' most successful films of the 1940s, including Destination Tokyo (1943), Mildred Pierce (1945) and Johnny Belinda (1948). He formed a production company with Norman Krasna in 1950 and later was associated with Columbia and 20th Century Fox. Wald collaborated on many film scripts, often without taking credit. Berkeley (1895-1976), a top Broadway dance director before turning to films in 1930, began his legendary association with Warner Bros. in 1933. Using innovative camerawork to further heighten his dazzling choreography, he eventually turned to directing. In 1939 he moved to MGM, where he guided such stars as Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland and Esther Williams through some of their most memorable movie moments on film. Producer: Hal B. Wallis (Executive Producer, uncredited), Jack L. Warner (Executive Producer, uncredited), Louis F. Edelman (Associate, uncredited) Director: William Keighley Screenplay: Jerry Wald, Richard Macaulay, Sig Herzig, Warren Duff, from story by Duff and Herzig Cinematography: Sol Polito, George Barnes ("Finale") Editing: George Amy Original Music: Richard A. Whiting, Roy Ringwald, Tom Waring Art Direction: Carl Jules Weyl Costume Design: Howard Shoup Cast: Dick Powell (Charles "Chuck" Daly), Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians (Themselves), Ted Healy (William "Willy" Williams), Rosemary Lane (Barbara "Babs" Steward), Priscilla Lane (Betty Bradley), Walter Catlett (Prof. Sylvester Biddle), Johnnie Davis (Buzz Bolton), Ford Washington Lee and John William Sublett (as "Buck and Bubbles"), Sterling Holloway (Trout), George MacFarland (Hap). BW-81m. by Roger Fristoe

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Sisters Rosemary and Priscilla Lane were regular members of the Fred Waring Orchestra and made their screen debut in this film. Dance director Busby Berkeley received an Academy Award nomination for his work on "The Finale" number.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1937

Released in United States 1937