Cowboy Quarterback


56m 1939
Cowboy Quarterback

Brief Synopsis

A football scout tries to get a legendary runner back into the game.

Film Details

Also Known As
Lighthorse Harry
Genre
Comedy
Sports
Adaptation
Release Date
Jul 29, 1939
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Elmer the Great by Ring Lardner and George M. Cohan (New York, 24 Sep 1928).

Technical Specs

Duration
56m
Film Length
6 reels

Synopsis

When Rusty Walker, a scout from the Chicago Packers professional football team, hears of the legendary prowess of Harry Lynn, a player from the backwoods of Montana, he treks West to sign the quarterback to his team. He runs into difficulty, however, when Harry, afraid that his sweetheart, Maizie Williams, will marry local boy Handsome Sam, refuses to leave Montana unless Maizie goes with him. Maizie finally consents to accompany Harry to Chicago, and Harry leaves his job as a clerk in Maizie's grocery store for the promise of fame on the field. After proving his prowess on the field by doing difficult training exercises in a fur coat, the cowboy quarterback becomes the sensation of the Packers. When Maizie begins to interfere with the team's routine, Rusty tells Harry that he has learned that Handsome Sam is on his way to Chicago. Harry agrees to have Maizie sent back to Montana. Concerned that Harry have another woman to keep him company, the Packer management fixes him up with femme fatale Evelyn Corey, and Harry quickly falls in love with her. Though Harry decides against mailing a letter informing Maizie of his plans to marry Evelyn, his roommate, Steve Adams, finds the letter and mails it for him. Later, when Harry discovers Evelyn in Rusty's arms, she announces her plans to marry Rusty. Harry returns to his room, learns that Steve has mailed the letter and rushes to the airport to intercept it before it goes out. He fails and goes to a gambling house to drink away his sorrows. Not realizing he was gambling for keeps, Harry finds himself out five thousand dollars. When the gambling racketeers try to make Harry settle his debt by fixing the next Packers game, he becomes outraged. A fight breaks out and Harry is jailed. Steve summons Maizie back to Chicago, who arrives with Handsome Sam. Because Handsome Sam has forgotten to give her Harry's letter, Maizie is oblivious to his affair with Evelyn and pays Harry's bail. Needing to redeem himself and repay Maizie's money, Harry begs the coach to play him during the last minutes of the Packers' game against the Ramblers, despite his signed agreement with the racketeers that he not play. The coach sends in his star, who rescues the the Packers from near defeat. Just before Handsome Sam hands Harry's letter to Maizie, Harry grabs it and orders the team to tackle it and run, thus preventing Maizie from ever knowing that his love for her had waivered.

Film Details

Also Known As
Lighthorse Harry
Genre
Comedy
Sports
Adaptation
Release Date
Jul 29, 1939
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Elmer the Great by Ring Lardner and George M. Cohan (New York, 24 Sep 1928).

Technical Specs

Duration
56m
Film Length
6 reels

Articles

The Cowboy Quarterback


The death of his long-time performing partner Robert Woolsey was not the only hardship shouldered by film comic Bert Wheeler in the fall of 1938. Charlie Hill, Wheeler's partner in the Palm Springs motel The Lone Pine, died two days after Woolsey, a tragedy that forced the struggling venture into receivership. Worse yet, Wheeler's wife of two years, actress Sally Haines, filed for divorce, leaving him broke and alone. The only recourse for the former Ziegfeld Follies funnyman and veteran of two dozen films was to return to work. Wheeler's first project as a solo act was The Cowboy Quarterback (1939), an RKO Radio Pictures remake of the Joe E. Brown football comedy Elmer, the Great (1933). The property had first seen life as a Ring Lardner stage play, produced on Broadway in 1928 by George M. Cohan. (Joseph L. Mankiewicz adapted the material for the 1929 baseball picture Fast Company.) Reworked for Wheeler by Fred Niblo, Jr. (whose mother was George M. Cohan's sister), The Cowboy Quarterback casts Wheeler against type as a Montana hayseed turned pro quarterback, whose rags-to-riches saga puts him in Dutch with Chicago gangsters and sets him in competition for the love of a pretty girl against future Perry Mason star William Hopper (still billing himself as DeWolf Hopper).

By Richard Harland Smith
The Cowboy Quarterback

The Cowboy Quarterback

The death of his long-time performing partner Robert Woolsey was not the only hardship shouldered by film comic Bert Wheeler in the fall of 1938. Charlie Hill, Wheeler's partner in the Palm Springs motel The Lone Pine, died two days after Woolsey, a tragedy that forced the struggling venture into receivership. Worse yet, Wheeler's wife of two years, actress Sally Haines, filed for divorce, leaving him broke and alone. The only recourse for the former Ziegfeld Follies funnyman and veteran of two dozen films was to return to work. Wheeler's first project as a solo act was The Cowboy Quarterback (1939), an RKO Radio Pictures remake of the Joe E. Brown football comedy Elmer, the Great (1933). The property had first seen life as a Ring Lardner stage play, produced on Broadway in 1928 by George M. Cohan. (Joseph L. Mankiewicz adapted the material for the 1929 baseball picture Fast Company.) Reworked for Wheeler by Fred Niblo, Jr. (whose mother was George M. Cohan's sister), The Cowboy Quarterback casts Wheeler against type as a Montana hayseed turned pro quarterback, whose rags-to-riches saga puts him in Dutch with Chicago gangsters and sets him in competition for the love of a pretty girl against future Perry Mason star William Hopper (still billing himself as DeWolf Hopper). By Richard Harland Smith

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was Lighthorse Harry. Contemporary sources conflict as to who produced the film, some credit Bryan Foy, while others credit Mark Hellinger. The film marked Bert Wheeler's first solo performance after the November 1938 death of his partner, Robert Woolsey. The two were known as the comedy duo of Wheeler and Woolsey. For information on other film versions of Lardner and Cohan's play, for Elmer the Great.