The Gladiator


1h 10m 1938

Film Details

Release Date
Aug 15, 1938
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
David L. Loew Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp. of California, Ltd.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Gladiator by Philip Wylie (New York, 1930).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 10m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,672ft (8 reels)

Synopsis

At the Twin Springs Children's Orthopedic Hospital, college dropout Hugo Kipp entertains the disabled boys with spellbinding bedtime stories. After a committee decides to replace Hugo with a college graduate, who also happens to be the son of a hospital benefactor, Hugo's mentor, Dr. DeRay, reluctantly discharges him. After being forced to pay admission to a movie theater to return a woman's dropped purse, Hugo wins $1,500 when his ticket stub is picked in a "Cash Night" drawing. Hugo decides to use his financial windfall to earn his college degree and enrolls as the oldest sophomore at Webster College. He rooms at Matilda Danner's campus boardinghouse and introduces himself to Professor Abner Danner, who has been experimenting on a chemical process to increase the normal strength of humans and animals. While attending a meeting to discuss the school's miserable football season, Iris Bennett, whom Hugo helped earlier when her car ran out of gasoline, notices that Hugo's father and grandfather were football and track heroes at Webster. Overcome by Iris' charms, Hugo agrees to try out for the team, but team captain Tom Dixon orders his players to humiliate Hugo. After Professor Danner miraculously transforms Bosco, a pet monkey, into a creature with the strength of a gorilla, he decides to try his strength serum on Hugo, who has returned home exhausted. The next morning, Hugo, who has been transformed into a superman, surprises the students gathered at football practice with his amazing ability to throw off tacklers and kick the ball. Track coach Stetson is flabbergasted by his record-breaking feats. Realizing that his strength could inflict injuries, Hugo decides he will not play football, but a meeting between the students and football coach Robbins prompts Iris to agree to flirt with Hugo and convince him to join the team. While carrying out her assignment, she learns that Hugo has developed a close relationship with Bobby, an orphan recovering at the hospital, and Iris uses this knowledge to get Hugo back on the team. In a crucial game against State College, Hugo wins the game and becomes a national gridiron champion. Celebrating at the prom that night, Tom becomes jealous of Iris' admiration of Hugo and reveals how he has been duped into joining the team. The humiliated Hugo returns to his room to find Bobby, who has run away to get his help in preventing his transfer to an orphanage. Determined to adopt the boy, Hugo decides to enter a $10,000 contest against wrestler Man Mountain Dean and win the money necessary to rear the boy. As the match is about to commence, Professor Danner discovers that the effect of his serum is temporary. The professor, Iris and Bobby speed to the arena to stop the bout and arrive during the second round with the match even. Suddenly, Hugo returns to normal strength and only though a series of miraculous maneuvers is he able to emerge victorious. When a policeman attempts to return Bobby to the hospital, Hugo hands over the check to pay for his adoption. Iris realizes that Hugo needs a wife for the adoption and agrees to marry him, then watches approvingly as he knocks out Tom.

Film Details

Release Date
Aug 15, 1938
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
David L. Loew Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp. of California, Ltd.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Gladiator by Philip Wylie (New York, 1930).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 10m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,672ft (8 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

The novel on which this film was based was reputedly one of the principal inspirations for the creation of Superman, who made his first appearance the same year.

Notes

According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, Harold Kusell was engaged to write the script of this film, but his contribution to the completed picture has not been confirmed. Other Hollywood Reporter news items noted that the picture was partially filmed on location at the UCLA campus, and that production was halted for two weeks when actor Joe E. Brown sustained a leg injury while filming football scenes.