What a Life


1h 15m 1939

Film Details

Release Date
Oct 6, 1939
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play What a Life by Clifford Goldsmith (New York, 13 Apr 1938).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 15m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6 reels

Synopsis

As Central High is preparing for its spring dance, clumsy junior Henry Aldrich is the butt of many practical jokes that often result in his being improperly blamed for much that goes wrong at school. The real culprit, sports jock and ladies' man George Bigelow, manages to remain the ideal pupil in the eyes of his teachers. Homely Barbara Pearson, president of his class, becomes upset when Henry proves too bashful to ask her to the dance. Miss Shea, the kindly school secretary, arranges for Barbara to blossom from a wallflower to an attractive young woman and George, stunned by her beauty, forces her to accept his invitation to the dance. Short of funds to pay for his tuxedo, George steals several instruments from the school band and pawns them. The next day, assistant principal Nelson learns from Henry that his father, a Princeton alumnus, wants his son to continue in the Ivy League tradition. Henry, seemingly unable to grasp much of what he reads or studies, spends his time penning small caricatures of his teachers. Barbara, upset with George for poking fun at Henry's drawings, breaks off her date and decides to go to the dance with Henry. Henry's mother, learning that her son has been suspended by principal Bradley, agrees to let Henry attend the dance only if he passes an ancient history examination with the highest marks in his class. Despite cramming, Henry is still forced to cheat off George's paper to meet his mother's ultimatum. Meanwhile, Police Detective Ferguson arrives to investigate the theft and accidentlly discovers the pawn ticket used by George and his pal, Pinkie Peters, to sell the instruments. After Henry's dishonesty on his test is discovered, he is expelled from school. His troubles are compounded when the pawnbroker identifies him as the thief, because George had forged Henry's name on the receipt. Believed guilty by all save Mr. Nelson, who wants to help Henry enroll at the Southside Art School, Henry, while retrieving his artwork, uncovers evidence that George was responsible for the theft. After a scuffle on the dance floor with Henry, George is revealed as the thief. Elated when Professor Abernathy offers him instant enrollment in his art school, Henry, reconciled with Barbara, asks her to dance.

Film Details

Release Date
Oct 6, 1939
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play What a Life by Clifford Goldsmith (New York, 13 Apr 1938).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 15m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6 reels

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

According to a pre-production news item in Hollywood Reporter, this picture was to be the screen debut of William Holden. Betty Field and Vaughan Glaser also appeared in the Broadway play on which this film is based. This film marked Field's screen debut. According to the Variety review, the Clifford Goldsmith play launched a radio series based upon the Aldrich family. In 1941, two years after the production of this film, Paramount decided to launch the Henry Aldrich series with the film Life with Henry, in which Jackie Cooper reprised his role of Henry. Paramount then replaced Cooper with Jimmy Lydon. The series ran until 1944.