It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.
This week’s musical:
Student Tour (1934) – Musical #255
Jimmy Durante (billed as Jimmie Durante), Charles Butterworth, Maxine Doyle, Phil Regan, Douglas Fowley, Florine McKinney, Monte Blue, Mischa Auer (uncredited), Bruce Bennett (uncredited), James Ellison (uncredited), Dick Foran (uncredited), Ann Rutherford (uncredited), Arthur Treacher (uncredited)
Himself: Nelson Eddy
The Bartlett College crew team is scheduled to sail for a world tour competition. The problem is, the whole team is flunking philosophy class. So they don’t miss out on the tour, Ann (Doyle) convinces the philosophy teacher, who is her uncle, (Buttersworth) to travel with the crew team and give the exam aboard. This is because she’s in love with the team’s captain, Bobby Kane (Regan).
• Nelson Eddy’s second feature filmed and is playing himself.
• All the songs are written by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown, except for one. Jimmy Durante wrote his own song, “I Say It With Music” that he performed.
• Jimmy Durante is billed as Jimmie Durante.
• Betty Grable appears in an uncredited role. Though uncredited, Grable performs two songs with Phil Regan, including “Snake Dance” and “A New Moon Is Over My Shoulder.”
• Several leading-men-to-be appear in uncredited roles, like Bruce Bennett, James Ellison and Dick Foran
• The billing, describing each character, such as “Lillith – the Campus Vamp” or “Bobby Kane – Captain and Stroke of the Crew”
• “A New Moon Is Over My Shoulder” performed by Betty Grable and Phil Regan
• “The Snake Dance” performed by Betty Grable and Phil Regan
• “From Now On” performed by Maxine Doyle
• “I Say It With Music” performed by Jimmy Durante
In 1934, the Hollywood Reporter called “Student Tour” (1934) “a swell piece of nonsense,” which is a pretty appropriate summation of this film.
The 1930s were brimming with collegiate musicals and films, that feature more fun and romance and less studying.
“Student Tour” is no different. We begin in a college setting in the first few minutes. The crew team wins their races but they aren’t winning in the classroom. Because the whole team is going to fail philosophy, they may not be able to go on their world tour!
But somehow they still are able to, when it’s determined that they can study on ship and take their exam there (you can imagine how well that would work out).
The scene shifts from the college campus to a cruise ship. On the cruise ship there’s music, swimming, romance and even a masquerade ball with a mysterious masked girl leading.
I felt like the film was going along just fine until the boat started docking. The antics ashore were a little annoying, especially those involving Charles Butterworth and Jimmy Durante.
The film has some lovely songs performed by crooner Phil Regan. Betty Grable has a small uncredited role, but she performs a couple of songs. For reference, this was the same year that Betty Grable performed “Let’s Knock Knees” with Edward Everett Horton in “The Gay Divorcee.”
It’s a simple story with lovely original songs. Also as far as the talent – Phil Regan, Maxine Doyle and Florine McKinney as our young leads – they all got their start in films in the early to mid-1930s, and most of them didn’t succeed in films past the 1930s. Jimmy Durante and Charles Butterworth are the two most famous actors in the film.
While they aren’t usually anything to write home about, I like early 1930s musicals like this one. They’re past the slump of figuring out sound, but also not as big and flashy as what Busby Berkeley was putting on over at Warner Bros.
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