Trouble Along the Way


1h 50m 1953
Trouble Along the Way

Brief Synopsis

A famous football coach uses underhanded means to turn a bankrupt college's team into winners.

Photos & Videos

Trouble Along the Way - Movie Posters

Film Details

Also Known As
Alma Mater
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Sports
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Apr 4, 1953
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
La Brea--Cathedral Chapel, California, United States; Los Angeles, California, United States; Los Angeles--Loyola High School, California, United States; Pomona--Pomona College, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 50m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

In New York City, elderly Father Burke is informed that church authorities will close St. Anthony's college, where he studied as a young man and is now the rector. Determined to keep the college open by raising money, Burke offers former bigtime coach Steve Williams a job building up the school football team into a winning program. However, Steve, who has fallen into disfavor with his colleagues and now keeps solvent as a bookie in a billiard hall, is uninterested until probation officer Alice Singleton shows up, investigating complaints by his former wife, Anne McCormick, that Steve has been neglecting their young daughter Carol, who lives with him. Steve's cheeky response irks Alice, who admits that Anne wants sole custody of Carol. Steve is later approached by Anne, and her behavior convinces to him that she is using Carol as a means of revenge. After accepting Burke's offer, Steve takes up residence with the tomboyish Carol in rooms under the campus belfry and resigns himself to St. Anthony's decrepit sports facilities. Later, when Alice announces that she has awarded Anne visitation rights, Steve remembers how, five years earlier, he found Anne romancing wealthy Harold McCormick, while Carol slept in a room upstairs. Meanwhile, Burke naïvely schedules the team to play the following fall against several big schools. Convinced by Carol not to give up and quit, the overwhelmed Steve works quickly, and after convincing two former gridiron assistants to join him, entices good players with dubious academic credentials to enroll at St. Anthony's and reap the rewards of a "cooperative football team." Steve acquires good equipment from a sports store manager, who takes kickbacks and rents a polo field by threatening the manager with bad publicity. To get around League rules, the players sign up for summer school and begin training. On the day of the first game, Alice takes Carol to visit Anne, who is now married to Harold, and they walk into a children's party in progress. While Carol unhappily tries to fit in, the McCormicks secretly agree that dealing with children is distasteful. Finally, Alice rescues Carol from the taunts of the other children, and together they attend the football game, where Alice proves to be surprisingly conversant in the sport. After the party, the McCormicks listen to the end of the game on the radio, and hear St. Anthony's victory. Later, although the game makes a $31,000 profit for St. Anthony's, Burke cancels the remainder of the team's schedule and prepares to close the school. After looking over the football players' records, Burke accuses Steve of dividing profits among team members, forging records and, referring to an older Canadian student, buying semi-professional players. Unashamed, Steve argues that the student in question had been drafted to fight in Korea, and thanks to St. Anthony's, finally has an opportunity for a college education. Later, Steve drunkenly confronts Alice, accusing her of tipping off Burke, then after suggesting she find a man, kisses her. Alice denies talking to Burke and angrily tells him that she, too, was reared as a tomboy without a mother, and hopes to keep Carol from becoming a misfit like she was. Feeling defeated and knowing that Anne does not really want Carol, Steve goes to the McCormicks' to compromise and offers to send her away to school. However, Anne wants to humiliate Steve by having Carol witness the hearing. After Harold admits that they tipped off Burke and that he is not fond of Carol, Steve slugs him and the police are called. Later at the hearing, where Steve's many mistakes are being aired, Alice refutes her previously written report citing Steve's "degrading influence" on Carol, as she has come to realize that Anne is using Carol against Steve. However, when Anne's attorney gets Alice to admit her love for Steve, the judge reassigns the case and makes Carol a ward of the court. Back at the college, Carol reminds Burke that Steve only did what was asked of him. Later, after learning that his superiors have decided to keep the school running, Burke announces at chapel that St. Anthony's will continue its tradition of providing financial aid, but that he is resigning as rector. Burke explains that he asked a man to do the impossible and when the man accomplished it in the only way he knew how, both St. Anthony's and the man almost lost what each valued. Later, Burke informs Steve that the football team will return to its former, lusterless state, but that Steve will remain as coach. He refers the surprised Steve to the fine print in his contract, written in Latin, which gives the school power to retain him. When Alice then arrives to take Carol away, pending the court's final decision, Carol and Steve signal to each other that Alice will make a good mother for Carol, and the three look forward to a happy future together.

Photo Collections

Trouble Along the Way - Movie Posters
Here are a few original movie posters from Warner Bros' Trouble Along the Way (1953), starring John Wayne and Donna Reed.

Film Details

Also Known As
Alma Mater
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Sports
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Apr 4, 1953
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
La Brea--Cathedral Chapel, California, United States; Los Angeles, California, United States; Los Angeles--Loyola High School, California, United States; Pomona--Pomona College, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 50m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Articles

Trouble Along the Way


In Trouble Along the Way (1953), John Wayne plays a famous football coach who is hired by Charles Coburn to turn around a college football team, thereby saving the college from bankruptcy. Wayne accepts the job, but only because it's a way of retaining custody of his daughter from a failed marriage.

Originally titled Alma Mater, this was writer Melville Shavelson's first film as producer, and he was less than thrilled to have the experience marred by a serious run-in with Wayne. The issue was the screenplay. Wayne had previously told Shavelson that while he liked the script, he wanted to bring in writer James Edward Grant for a polish - because, as Wayne put it, Grant "has kind of a good feelin' for my way of talkin." Horrified at the thought of any script tampering, Shavelson tried to persuade Wayne not to do this - successfully, he thought. But Wayne went ahead and had Grant secretly rewrite dialogue for several characters. Unable to reign in the biggest star in the world, Shavelson then had the bright idea of shooting two scripts: Wayne's version when Wayne was working, and the "real" version when the star wasn't around.

"Only one thing went wrong," Shavelson said. "Duke showed up on a day he wasn't supposed to be there and found out what was going on." Wayne was furious and gave Shavelson hell. They finished the film Wayne's way, and he and Shavelson vowed never to work with each other again (a vow they kept). The resulting film's uneven pace was probably due to the competing scripts and was also a big reason it didn't fare well at the box office. "[It] never made any money," said Shavelson, "because there wasn't a horse in the picture." That's true, but in 1953 John Wayne was riding the peak of his popularity, and Trouble Along the Way still ended up as one of the lowest-grossing films of his entire career.

It was also a rough time for Wayne personally. His real-life marriage, ironically enough, was in utter shambles during the shoot. He and his wife Esperanza had had a huge falling out, and by all accounts she was now making his life miserable, trying to humiliate him publicly in any way she could. They filed divorce suits against one another during production. At this time, Wayne started having an affair with Pilar Palette, a Peruvian actress, and she became pregnant. Her decision to have an abortion "almost destroyed" her, but she knew that if she had the baby, Wayne's career might be destroyed. She later wrote, "I knew Duke loved me, but his deepest commitment was to making movies. I could not and would not endanger his happiness." Eventually, they did marry.

The film's director was ultra-experienced Michael Curtiz, who had made over 150 movies since starting his career in Hungary in 1912. After Trouble Along the Way, he was to make only one more film at Warner Brothers (The Boy from Oklahoma, 1954) before leaving the studio after disagreements over money and percentages. The director's star had fallen from the days of Casablanca (1942), Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), but his departure from the studio after 27 years did make some sense. After all, the quality of Warners' films was in decline, and most of the studio workers he had known had left the studio long ago, and Younger hands had taken over. As a freelance director, Curtiz figured he'd be better able to pick and choose good scripts and colleagues. As it happened, his output would be fairly undistinguished from then on. Evidently Wayne didn't blame Curtiz for the script mess on Trouble Along the Way, for he let Curtiz direct him once again - in The Comancheros - in 1961. On that film, Curtiz was so ill that Wayne even stepped in to direct on days when Curtiz couldn't come to work. Shortly after The Comancheros wrapped, Curtiz died of cancer.

Donna Reed appears in Trouble Along the Way as a social worker, one year before her Oscar-winning role in From Here to Eternity (1953). (As Variety put it at the time: "Donna Reed gives her role as a probation officer all that it needs to hold its own with the two male stars, besides being a looker.") And according to some sources, James Dean appears here very briefly as an extra.

Producer: Melville Shavelson
Director: Michael Curtiz
Screenplay: Melville Shavelson, Jack Rose, Robert Hardy Andrews (story), Douglas Morrow (story)
Cinematography: Archie Stout
Film Editing: Owen Marks
Art Direction: Leo K. Kuter
Music: Max Steiner
Cast: John Wayne (Steve Aloysius Williams), Donna Reed (Alice Singleton), Charles Coburn (Father Burke), Tom Tully (Father Malone), Sherry Jackson (Carole Williams), Marie Windsor (Anne McCormick).
BW-110m.

by Jeremy Arnold
Trouble Along The Way

Trouble Along the Way

In Trouble Along the Way (1953), John Wayne plays a famous football coach who is hired by Charles Coburn to turn around a college football team, thereby saving the college from bankruptcy. Wayne accepts the job, but only because it's a way of retaining custody of his daughter from a failed marriage. Originally titled Alma Mater, this was writer Melville Shavelson's first film as producer, and he was less than thrilled to have the experience marred by a serious run-in with Wayne. The issue was the screenplay. Wayne had previously told Shavelson that while he liked the script, he wanted to bring in writer James Edward Grant for a polish - because, as Wayne put it, Grant "has kind of a good feelin' for my way of talkin." Horrified at the thought of any script tampering, Shavelson tried to persuade Wayne not to do this - successfully, he thought. But Wayne went ahead and had Grant secretly rewrite dialogue for several characters. Unable to reign in the biggest star in the world, Shavelson then had the bright idea of shooting two scripts: Wayne's version when Wayne was working, and the "real" version when the star wasn't around. "Only one thing went wrong," Shavelson said. "Duke showed up on a day he wasn't supposed to be there and found out what was going on." Wayne was furious and gave Shavelson hell. They finished the film Wayne's way, and he and Shavelson vowed never to work with each other again (a vow they kept). The resulting film's uneven pace was probably due to the competing scripts and was also a big reason it didn't fare well at the box office. "[It] never made any money," said Shavelson, "because there wasn't a horse in the picture." That's true, but in 1953 John Wayne was riding the peak of his popularity, and Trouble Along the Way still ended up as one of the lowest-grossing films of his entire career. It was also a rough time for Wayne personally. His real-life marriage, ironically enough, was in utter shambles during the shoot. He and his wife Esperanza had had a huge falling out, and by all accounts she was now making his life miserable, trying to humiliate him publicly in any way she could. They filed divorce suits against one another during production. At this time, Wayne started having an affair with Pilar Palette, a Peruvian actress, and she became pregnant. Her decision to have an abortion "almost destroyed" her, but she knew that if she had the baby, Wayne's career might be destroyed. She later wrote, "I knew Duke loved me, but his deepest commitment was to making movies. I could not and would not endanger his happiness." Eventually, they did marry. The film's director was ultra-experienced Michael Curtiz, who had made over 150 movies since starting his career in Hungary in 1912. After Trouble Along the Way, he was to make only one more film at Warner Brothers (The Boy from Oklahoma, 1954) before leaving the studio after disagreements over money and percentages. The director's star had fallen from the days of Casablanca (1942), Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), but his departure from the studio after 27 years did make some sense. After all, the quality of Warners' films was in decline, and most of the studio workers he had known had left the studio long ago, and Younger hands had taken over. As a freelance director, Curtiz figured he'd be better able to pick and choose good scripts and colleagues. As it happened, his output would be fairly undistinguished from then on. Evidently Wayne didn't blame Curtiz for the script mess on Trouble Along the Way, for he let Curtiz direct him once again - in The Comancheros - in 1961. On that film, Curtiz was so ill that Wayne even stepped in to direct on days when Curtiz couldn't come to work. Shortly after The Comancheros wrapped, Curtiz died of cancer. Donna Reed appears in Trouble Along the Way as a social worker, one year before her Oscar-winning role in From Here to Eternity (1953). (As Variety put it at the time: "Donna Reed gives her role as a probation officer all that it needs to hold its own with the two male stars, besides being a looker.") And according to some sources, James Dean appears here very briefly as an extra. Producer: Melville Shavelson Director: Michael Curtiz Screenplay: Melville Shavelson, Jack Rose, Robert Hardy Andrews (story), Douglas Morrow (story) Cinematography: Archie Stout Film Editing: Owen Marks Art Direction: Leo K. Kuter Music: Max Steiner Cast: John Wayne (Steve Aloysius Williams), Donna Reed (Alice Singleton), Charles Coburn (Father Burke), Tom Tully (Father Malone), Sherry Jackson (Carole Williams), Marie Windsor (Anne McCormick). BW-110m. by Jeremy Arnold

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of the film was Alma Mater. According to a modern source, Douglas Morrow and Robert Hardy Andrews' original story was entitled "It Figures." November 1952 Hollywood Reporter news items add actors Paul Brady, Margaret Barstow, Sam Innes and Parry O'Brien to the cast, but their appearance in the film has not been confirmed. According to Warner Bros. production notes, portions of the film were shot at Pomona College, various Los Angeles high schools, including Loyola, and Cathedral Chapel in La Brea, CA.
       A June 1953 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that actress Sherry Jackson had been named "Best Child Performer for 1952-53" by the General Federation of Women's Clubs for her work in Trouble Along the Way, The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima and The Lion and the Horse ( entries). Jackson and actor Tom Tully reprised their roles in a February 15, 1954 Lux Radio Theatre adaptation, starring Jack Carson, June Haver and Herbert Butterfield. Jackson appeared again in a March 29, 1955 revised Lux adaptation of Trouble Along the Way, this time co-starring with Van Johnson, Joanne Dru and Parley Baer.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States on Video April 29, 1992

Released in United States Spring April 4, 1953

Released in United States Spring April 4, 1953

Released in United States on Video April 29, 1992