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:
High School Hero (1946) – Musical #674
The Teenagers: Freddie Stewart, June Preisser, Jackie Moran, Noel Neill, Anne Rooney, Warren Mills
Adults: Milton Kibbee, Belle Mitchell, Douglas Fowley, Dick Elliott, Lita Baron (billed as Isabelita), Leonard Penn, Pierre Watkin
Themselves: Freddie Slack, Jan Savitt
The Whitney High School football team has never beat Fairview High School in a football game. That isn’t the school’s only issues. Editor of the school newspaper Betty Rogers (Neill) is concerned the paper will be shut down, because of low circulation and no news. Football player and performer Freddie Trimble (Stewart) is also distressed because the students are being replaced by professional talent in the town bizarre. The teens get into trouble while they try to solve the issues. Freddie tries to get Jan Savitt (himself) and Chi-Chi (Baron) to perform at the bizarre, and Freddie’s girlfriend thinks he’s cheating on him. And Dodie Rogers (Preisser) disguises as a boy to help the football team win.
• The third film in the “The Teen Agers” series. There are a total of eight Teen Ager films.
• First feature film of composer, bandleader Jan Savitt.
• Lita Baron is billed as Isabelita.
• Last film appearance of bandleader, pianist Freddie Slack.
• The football number where they act in slow motion like it’s a replay.
• The majorettes performing
• Football team dancing on the field to win the game.
• “Football Frolics” performed by the cast
• “You’re Just What I Crave” performed by Freddie Stewart
• “Southpaw Serenade” performed by Freddie Slack and Orchestra
I only recently discovered the Teen Agers Monogram film series. While extremely low budget and silly, these are right up my alley.
HIGH SCHOOL HERO (1946) has everything you could want in a vintage high school comedy: football games, school newspapers, soda shops and majorettes. It makes you want to belly up to the soda fountain and order a banana split.
The plot is a bit convoluted. The first problem is that Whitney High School has never beat their rival of Fairview High. There is also the issue that the Whitney school paper has low circulation, and the number the students rehearsed for the town carnival is out. The governor is coming to the carnival so they have to find professional talent. Along the way, June Pressier plays football to help the team, and Freddie Stewart is rumored to be having an affair with a nightclub singer.
Overall this is predictable fun and is anything you would expect from a low budget teen movie. It’s filled with zany jokes, silly plot lines and toe-tapping songs.
For some reason, these Teen Age series movies seemed to merit to be given the RiffTrax treatment. Some people love this comedic commentary, but I find it eye roll worthy. Not every movie is an Academy Award winner, but these are at least cute and fun. They were meant to be funny … so I don’t get making fun of them.
I guess my only criticism is that most of the teen age high schoolers are a bit long in the tooth, man of them being in their late 20s and Frankie Darro acting like a teen at 29 (he clearly was cast for his height, but his face tells his age). Freddie Stewart and Warren Mills are probably some of the youngest in the cast. However, casting actors of the wrong age are nothing new. Just watch any 1930s college film.
There are some laugh worthy funny parts in the films. Douglas Fowley plays the coach, and he’s always so frustrated by the team, he has his luggage on the sidelines, ready to hightail it out of there. I loved the line “These boys are so skinny, if they stood sideways, they would be marked absent.” I was also laughing out loud at how the students finally won the football game: They performed dance steps from their revue to throw off the other team.
My only regret is that they didn’t play out more the plot line of June Pressier playing football.
Until I saw this film, I wasn’t familiar with composer, bandleader Jan Savitt, who was known as the “Stokowski of Swing.” That was an interesting discovery.
Is this the best musical ever? Of course not, but it does hit the spot of light comedic high school-themed musicals.
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