College Swing
R2 - United Kingdom - Simply Media
Review written by and copyright: Matthew Crossman (6th June 2016).
The Film

The film opens in a college in 1738. Diplomas are being handed out and when Gracie Alden (Gracie Allen) goes up to collect hers she is to be disappointed. She is informed by the Headmaster of the college that she has failed in every aspect of her schooling. Her Grandfather is distressed at this and sets her and her female descendants a challenge. If Gracie or any of her female descendants manages to pass their schooling at the college and achieve a diploma then they will inherit all the family fortune. Fast forward two hundred years to the year 1938 and the deadline approaches. This time the onus falls upon another Gracie Alden but just like her ancestors and relatives she too is struggling with her school work. To this end she employs Bud Brady (Bob Hope) to tutor and help her. Opposing her are Hubert Dash (Edward Everret Horton), a woman hating man who is setting her final exam, and his personal secretary George Jones (George Burns) who are both determined that Gracie fail the difficult exam as she plans to buy their college with the money she will inherit should she pass.

If the above synopsis seems a little flimsy it's because the film is. If 'Grease' had been filmed in 1938 if may well have looked something like this. The film is an anachronism that today looks extremely dated. The story of Gracie is simply there to provide a setting where swing dance numbers and Three Stooges like comedy routines can be played out (performed by The Slate Brothers) The musical numbers are actually pretty entertaining but for the most part have very little to do with the film's storyline unlike 'Grease' which used it's musical numbers for describe and forward the plot. The Slate Brothers routines are simply in the film, I imagine, because they were popular at the time and would be a draw for movie goers. When the script does concentrate on the plot it's actually quite amusing. Bob Hope is on top form as fast talking Bud Brady and gets all the good lines. All the College Professors and staff are played as the bad guys and the college students, all of whom look closer to being thirty years old than eighteen, are the hip, swinging good guys. There is some enjoyment to be culled from watching the movie but I never seemed to be having as much fun as the cast were having though. At 86 minutes long the film does seem to out stay it's welcome some what and this is due to the proliferation of musical numbers that seem to be at regular five minute intervals throughout the movie and simply serve to distract from the rather flimsy storyline. It feels like the film makers had a script that would run for about thirty minutes so they bolstered the running time with music and comedy sketches. Lovers of this era will find a lot to like in 'College Swing' but for more modern day audiences the gags and musical numbers soon start to wear a little thin.


The Simply media DVD presents the film in it's original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 The monochrome picture is fine with the usual signs of wear and tear, most notably a light grain running the length of the movie. The blacks are not particularly deep and the whites not particularly bright so everything on screen has a rather grey, hazy look to it. No restoration has taken place as far as I can see but considering this film is fast approaching it's eightieth birthday it looks reasonably good. I would be happy with looking this good at 80!


A simple dual mono soundtrack, in English only, is included and considering that the film relies on it's musical numbers for a substantial part of it's running time it sound reasonably well. The dialogue can sound a little hollow in places, especially the dialogue of The Slate Brothers which looks like it was filmed on a large stage with microphones some distance away. The more intimate scenes involving two or three characters fair better. The film reminds me, sound wise, of the scene in 'Singing In The Rain', when they attempt sound for the first time with disastrous results. Given that the film was released within the first ten years of 'talkies' I found the soundtrack acceptable. Nothing much to shout about but not much to complain about either. There are no subtitles available on this disc.




'College Swing' is, unlike, say 'Grease', a film of it's time. Whilst the patter of Bob Hope is entertaining and humorous everything else has aged quite badly. The dance routines, the songs themselves, and especially the 'comedic' routines of The Slate Brothers have suffered. The film is far too long and by dropping three or four of the ten musical numbers could have been pared down to something more acceptable. Not a disaster but any means but unfortunately the film makers chose to highlight aspects of the film like the music and comedy routines instead of sticking to the storyline and giving Bob Hope much more screen time.

The Film: D+ Video: C Audio: C+ Extras: F Overall: D+


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