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Thursday, May 07, 2015

WB Goes For The Rah Rah


Over The Goal (1937) Risks Everything For a Big Win

June Travis extracts a promise from injured footballer William Hopper that he'll never play again, lest a next mishap cause permanent damage. Half way in, plot circumstance demands he take the field, so June simply changes her mind, and off runs Bill to grid glory. That's the nature of B's: everything serves a quick-time narrative, and never mind character and motivation gone askew in service to pace. I fretted over Hopper disabled or even killed at a finish to the big game, even knowing it wouldn't happen in fluff like this. Remarkable how movies would float a big issue for a first half, then ignore it altogether in a second. We're left with impression that June cares more about a victorious team than Bill's welfare, and judging by a happy fade clinch they share, that's OK. Did '37 sport fans value a win over lives of players? Maybe it was no issue as Over The Goal was just a program filler after all. Or could be I take these matters too much to heart, wrestling with moral/ethical issues through such a dumb pic. Given Bill's position, however, I'd have wanted back my frat pin in the wake of June's callous disregard for my safety. Over The Goal when off-field is usual collegiate high jinx: stealing a rival school's mascot, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson wrestling a bear (there now, is that good enough reason to watch?), songs and nonsense from Johnnie "Scat" Davis, whose band would immortalize Hooray For Hollywood, and the time-honored bucket of water poised atop doors to drench incomers. You could heap worse abuse on 63 minutes.

5 Comments:

Blogger Kevin K. said...

"Over the Goal" is probably the silliest big studio B-movie I've ever seen, and that's saying something. But Eddie Anderson once again proves what a truly great comedic actor he was. I don't know what his salary was, but it wasn't enough.

2:29 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Dan Mercer notes comparison with another sport-minded Warners "B":


The " Knockout" is the same way, a 1941 Warners "B" with a young and fit Arthur Kennedy as a cocky prize fighter. Did they come any other way in the movies? Kennedy's grease ball manager, Tony Quinn, not only overmatches him to win a crooked bet, but also drugs him when he threatens to win the fight anyways. Down on his luck and back on his heels, a desperate Kennedy finally takes a fight on short notice for the cash. This time the girl in the story, Olympe Bradne, doesn't want him to risk it. After the beating he took in his last fight, his doctor told him that one more punch could kill him. But Kennedy goes into the ring anyways and absorbs another savage beating. One more punch? He takes dozens of them and is finally knocked cold. But does he die? No, he does not. He not only gets the cash but marries the girl. And, as they're driving away in a taxi cab from the wedding ceremony, he spots Quinn on a street corner. He has the cab stop, gets out, and smashes Quinn's cigar into his face. No doubt this was intended as a cathartic release for the audience, given that the movie hadn't delivered on anything it had been leading to. The last shot is through the rear window of the taxi, as a laughing Kennedy and Bradne kiss.

I prefer my tragedy straight, without a cop out for a chaser.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Jerry Beck said...

OVER THE GOAL is most famous - in my circles - for being the film the song “As Easy As Rolling Off A Log” was cut from. The song, performed by Johnnie “Skat” Davis and Mabel Todd, was too good not to use - and the soundtrack recording was given to Leon Schlesinger who used it as the basis of the carrtoon KATNIP KOLLEGE (1938).

8:02 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Never knew about that, Jerry. Thanks for passing it along, and for fine and frequent posts at "Cartoon Research," your outstanding animation site.

8:26 PM  
Blogger rnigma said...

William Hopper is best remembered for playing Paul Drake in the Perry Mason TV series. Good thing he didn't play the character in the Mason movies WB made at the time - poor Paul was given the goofy nickname "Spudsy." (Spudsy?)

8:24 PM  

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