She's Working Her Way Through College


1h 41m 1952
She's Working Her Way Through College

Brief Synopsis

A professor helps a burlesque queen get a college education.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Musical
Release Date
Jul 12, 1952
Premiere Information
New York opening: 9 Jul 1952
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The Male Animal by James Thurber and Elliott Nugent, as produced by Herman Shumlin (New York, 1 Sep 1940).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 41m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

When Professor John Palmer of Midwest College goes to New York to attend stage plays to prepare for the theater arts classes he teaches, he sees one of his former high school students, Angela Gardner, performing in burlesque as "Hot Garters Gertie." During intermission, Angela invites him to her dressing room and tells him she has been saving money to attend college, where she hopes to begin a writing career. Encouraged by John, who assures her that a college education is the "inalienable right of every American," she decides to attend Midwest College. John agrees to read a script she has written, but after John leaves, a mink coat is delivered anonymously to Angela with an invitation to meet the donor at a hotel room. Thinking it came from John, she proceeds to the hotel room to return the gift, but finds there instead a lecherous tourist who calls himself "Daniel Brown." Having to act fast to escape his advances, Angela forgets to leave the mink, and when she tries to have it delivered to him, "Brown" has already checked out. Later, at Midwest College, Angela makes friends with Don Weston, the school's quarterback, which earns her the ill-will of "Poison" Ivy Williams, the leading lady of past college productions. As the college chairman, Fred Copeland, gives preference to athletics over other programs, John and his wife Helen live on a tight budget, so Angela rents a room from them. When John intimates that the annual college play, which he directs, is poorly attended, Angela suggests he drop the classics for something more modern. John, who is impressed with the play Angela has written, suggests they add a few songs and stage it. Later, before a football rally, several faculty members meet at the Palmers' house. Wealthy businessman Shep Slade, an alumnus ex-All-American football hero and Helen's former flame, shows up with Copeland. During the party, John asks Copeland for permission to put on a modern musical instead of a classic, but the chairman is reluctant until Slade suggests that the students preview some of the show for them. While Angela and Don perform a song from the show for the faculty, the jealous Ivy searches Angela's room and steals her scrapbook, which documents her dancing days. Slade's relentless bragging and flirting with Helen makes John uneasy and he sends Helen out alone when the faculty goes to dinner. Feeling inadequate, John drinks alone and is inebriated by the time Don and Angela return from the rally. Mistaking them for Helen and Slade, he offers to step aside, so that Helen will be free to be with Slade. Don and Angela urge him to fight for his mate, the way animals do. When Helen and Slade return, John attempts a physical altercation, but then accuses Slade of trying to hurt Helen for choosing John years ago. He offers to give her up, but Slade admits his flirting "was just a line," which upsets Helen. After a rehearsal for the show, Ivy confronts Angela with the scrapbook she has stolen, and threatens to tell the school newspaper unless Angela drops out of the show, leaving the lead role and Don for Ivy. As she wants the show to be a success so that John will get credit, Angela agrees to "sprain" her ankle and claims that she and Don are just friends. Meanwhile, Don is contemplating his love for Angela as he works out in the gym. Angela meets him later to tell him about Ivy's threat, but Ivy sees them together. By the next day the school newspaper, and then the nationwide press, has reported on Angela's "Hot Garters" days. Because of the bad press, Copeland wants Angela expelled and sends Slade to the Palmers' house ordering John, under threat of being fired, to speak at a meeting of the student body. Copeland has prepared a speech for John to read which announces that the show is cancelled and Angela expelled. However, at the meeting, John refuses to read Copeland's speech. Instead, he talks about discrimination against people in show business and how one kind of discrimination leads to other kinds. His speech makes him a hero in the eyes of the students, Helen and even Slade. As Copeland has refused to talk to her in person, Angela confronts him in his office and realizes that he is "Daniel Brown." As she still has the mink, she blackmails him. Later, Copeland grants John a full professorship and the show, titled "You've Got to Give Them What They Want," opens on schedule.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Musical
Release Date
Jul 12, 1952
Premiere Information
New York opening: 9 Jul 1952
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The Male Animal by James Thurber and Elliott Nugent, as produced by Herman Shumlin (New York, 1 Sep 1940).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 41m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Articles

She's Working Her Way Through College


Adapted quite loosely from James Thurber's First Amendment drama The Male Animal, this musical follows burlesque dancer Angela Garter, a.k.a. "Hot Garters Gertie" (Virginia Mayo) and her unconventional pursuit of a writing degree at Midwest College, "trading her shakes for Shakespeare" under the tutelage of Professor John Palmer (Ronald Reagan), much to the delight of B.M.O.C Don Weston (Gene Nelson) and the irritation of "Poison" Ivy Williams (Patrice Wymore). Mayo is a leggy, limber delight on screen, an un-dumb blonde who deserves the attention she commands in several song-and-dance numbers. And while dance partner Gene Nelson never joined the pantheon of other exalted screen hoofers -- he's most known for his role in Oklahoma! (1955) and for directing Elvis movies like Harum Scarum (1965) -- his physical command is palpable in every scene, including a gymnasium dance sequence with a boxer's speed bag. (The climactic plea for any woman -- even a former burlesque dancer -- to pursue any sort of education she sees fit is a pleasantly anachronistic moment of girl power.) A campy, uncomplicated, musical delight that's waiting to be rediscovered by a new generation of burlesque aficionados.

By Violet LeVoit
She's Working Her Way Through College

She's Working Her Way Through College

Adapted quite loosely from James Thurber's First Amendment drama The Male Animal, this musical follows burlesque dancer Angela Garter, a.k.a. "Hot Garters Gertie" (Virginia Mayo) and her unconventional pursuit of a writing degree at Midwest College, "trading her shakes for Shakespeare" under the tutelage of Professor John Palmer (Ronald Reagan), much to the delight of B.M.O.C Don Weston (Gene Nelson) and the irritation of "Poison" Ivy Williams (Patrice Wymore). Mayo is a leggy, limber delight on screen, an un-dumb blonde who deserves the attention she commands in several song-and-dance numbers. And while dance partner Gene Nelson never joined the pantheon of other exalted screen hoofers -- he's most known for his role in Oklahoma! (1955) and for directing Elvis movies like Harum Scarum (1965) -- his physical command is palpable in every scene, including a gymnasium dance sequence with a boxer's speed bag. (The climactic plea for any woman -- even a former burlesque dancer -- to pursue any sort of education she sees fit is a pleasantly anachronistic moment of girl power.) A campy, uncomplicated, musical delight that's waiting to be rediscovered by a new generation of burlesque aficionados. By Violet LeVoit

Quotes

I don't know what there is about the pelts of dead little animals that makes 'em so attractive to women, when one little mouse scares 'em silly.
- Prof. John Palmer
I thought we'd cleared these parts of all wildlife.
- Prof. John Palmer
Wolves with crew haircuts. One senior, one sophomore.
- Angela Gardner
Ah, the campus variety. Known scientifically as Lupus boola-boola.
- Prof. John Palmer
Why d'you eat that rabbit food? You oughta have something solid.
- Don Weston
I've got to watch my figure.
- Angela Gardner
You eat. Let me watch it.
- Don Weston

Trivia

Notes

According to a February 1950 Hollywood Reporter news item, Warner Bros. originally assigned Charles Tobias and Peter de Rose to write songs for the film, which Louis F. Edelman was to produce. Hollywood Reporter production charts from the first month of production list Francis J. Scheid as sound man; later charts list Leslie G. Hewitt. Warner Bros. production notes add Patricia Hawks, daughter of silent screen star Bessie Love, and the following dancers to the cast: Camille Williams, Shirley Whitney, Joan Haig, Jean Harrison, Crystal White, Beverly Thomas, Diana Mumby and Sally Saunders, but their appearance in the film has not been confirmed. October and November 1951 Hollywood Reporter news items add Donna Ring, Frances Zucco and Chuck Hicks to the cast, but their appearance in the film has not been confirmed. Ramon and Royce Blackburn, the nightclub entertainers known as the Blackburn Twins, performed with Patrice Wymore in the production number "Love Is Still for Free."
       According to a September 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item, Michael Curtiz substituted as director for Bruce Humberstone while the latter recovered from the flu. Several reviews noted the differences between the musical film and the James Thurber-Elliott Nugent play upon which it is based, The Male Animal. The freedom of speech issue, precipitated by the professor's announcement that at his next class he would read a letter written by anarchist Bartolomeo Vansetti, is entirely absent from the musical film. The New York Times review noted that the plot of the screenplay shifts attention away from the professor, who almosts loses his wife and job, to the college career of the ex-burlesque dancer, who was a lesser character in the stage play. The Variety review stated that the sociological point made in the stage play was written out of the film.
       The 1942 Warner Bros. film The Male Animal, which more closely follows the original play, was directed by Nugent and starred Henry Fonda and Olivia De Havilland. Don DeFore, who played "Shep Slade" in She's Working Her Way Through College, also appeared in the earlier film.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Summer July 12, 1952

Remake of "The Male Animal" (1942) directed by Elliott Nugent.

Remade as "She's Working Her Way Through College" (1952) directed by H Bruce Humberstone.

Released in United States Summer July 12, 1952