Yesterday's Heroes


1h 5m 1940

Film Details

Release Date
Sep 20, 1940
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the story "Yesterday's Heroes," by William Brent in The Saturday Evening Post (18 Nov--2 Dec 1939).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 5m
Film Length
5,920ft

Synopsis

With three minutes to go in a 0-0 tie between college football teams State and Midwestern, Snowy Parker, State's injured top player, enters the game and throws the winning touchdown pass. Fans in the stands argue about who is the better player -- Parker or State's first All-American Duke Wyman, who disappeared years before after playing his last game for State. As he is leaving the game, Duke is recognized by Lee Kellogg, his old girl friend, who begs him to call his adopted family in Grantsville, Doc Stovall and Aunt Winnie. Duke promises to do so and heads back to his hotel room, where his rent is overdue. Duke picks up his old scrapbook and relives his glory days: As freshmen, Duke and Lee go off to State to become doctors. In the dorms, Duke meets his new roommate, Bill Garrett, who is thankful that Duke is not a football player, as they are "unfair competition" with the girls. During a meeting of the college board of trustees, Harvey Mason, a local contractor, guarantees the salary of new football coach Cleats Slater. The next fall, Slater holds an open tryout for the football team. While walking by the tryout with Lee and Bill, Duke catches an errant kick and throws the ball back to the kicker. His throw immediately grabs the attention of Curly Walsh, Slater's assistant coach. Curly asks Duke to try out for the team, but Duke tells him studying for medical school is more important. However, after being pressured by most of the college, Duke does join the team, but sits on the bench until the last game. With three minutes left against Midwestern, Slater sends Duke into the game to pass. When his pass protection breaks down, Duke runs the length of the field for the winning touchdown. That night, at a dance at Lee's sorority house, Duke falls under the spell of Janice Mason, Harvey's society daughter, much to Lee and Bill's dismay. At the beginning of his junior year, Duke tells Tex Jones, another star player, that he may have to quit the football team to get a job to pay for college. Tex talks to Curly about Duke's finances and gets Duke a phony job to cover his expenses. Duke and Tex star for State, and although injured, Duke throws a touchdown pass to Tex to win the final game against Midwestern. At the victory dance, Duke, now an All-American, again runs into Janice, who has regained interest in him. They sneak off to Moria's Stables, a local nightclub, where Duke gets drunk. After returning to his room at 6 a.m., Duke informs Bill that he and Janice eloped. Janice calls, asking Duke not to tell anyone about their marriage and informs him that she is going away on a trip to think things over. Duke plans to quit football his senior year to go into medical school, but Slater arranges with Mason to have Duke's early admission cancelled. Duke and Tex lead an undefeated State to the conference championship against Taylor. Just before the game starts, Tex is ruled ineligible because he played three years for another college under another name. On the opening kickoff, Duke re-injures his knee. With State behind 3-0 late in the game, Slater sends Duke in to pass. He leads his team down the field, but fumbles away a snap from center, thus ensuring the victory for Taylor. Instead of cheers, Duke leaves the field in silence. After the game, Mason offers Duke $10,000 to annul his marriage to Janice. Duke tears up the check and knocks Mason out. Back in Duke's hotel room, Bill arrives and tells him to stop being one of "yesterday's heroes" and go back to Lee, who still loves him despite all. Duke takes Bill's advise and drives back to Grantsville with Lee. Duke informs Lee that they cannot keep their promise to be each other's first patient, as doctors never treat their own family members.

Film Details

Release Date
Sep 20, 1940
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the story "Yesterday's Heroes," by William Brent in The Saturday Evening Post (18 Nov--2 Dec 1939).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 5m
Film Length
5,920ft

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

While the film's credits state that the film was based on a Saturday Evening Post serial by William Brent, Screen Achievements Bulletin refers to Brent's work as a novel. According to a Twentieth Century-Fox press release, this was the first writing effort for Fox sound man William Brent. After his story was bought, Brent was made a writer at the studio. This was also screenwriters Irving Cummings, Jr. and William Conselman, Jr.'s first assignment. Both men were "second generation Hollywood," as Cummings' father was a director and Conselman's, a screenwriter. According to Twentieth Century-Fox press releases, the football sequences were shot at the Los Angeles Olympic Stadium and at the Pasadena Rose Bowl. Despite a summer heat wave, the extras were required to wear heavy winter coats. As such, large wind machines behind huge cakes of ice were used to cool off the fields. Thirty-four college football players from local universities were used as extras in this film. They included USC's Ambrose Schindler, Bill Howard, Red Morgan, Tony Tonelli, Ollie Day and Owen Hansen, and UCLA's Billy Bob Williams, Bill Overlin and Bill Radovich. Location filming was done at the Inglewood Railway Station as the station received little use. Because only two freight trains used the station each day, movie extras were the only passengers ever to use the station. The press release also reported that the rental cost of a four-car train at the station was $150 per day. Hollywood Reporter reported that Fox borrowed Lewis Howard from Universal Pictures for this film.