Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Patsy

Pigskin Parade is an average 1930s college comedy, good as any and better than some. It also stars Patsy Kelly.

Yale intends to challenge University of Texas to a charity game, but accidentally invites tiny Texas State University. TSU has just got a new coach, Jack Haley (the Tinman) and his wife Patsy Kelly. Their is a bit of nonsense with the coeds (including an early Betty Grable) and then they need to find a ringer.

On a roadtrip up to Arkansas, they meet a melon farmer (no euphemism), Stuart Erwin, who can toss a casaba the length of the melon patch. They round him and his hayseed sister, Judy Garland up and enroll him.

But first there's some nonsense with a college socialist, played by Elisha Cook, Jr (!). Plus a lot of musical numbers - not very good - mostly featuring some superannuated sophomores called the Yacht Club Boys. And that's all before the big game. Not bad for 93 minutes.

In fact, the movie is not bad at all. The musical numbers are weak, even Garland's, but the big game, played in the snow, is well-staged. I'd say they spent a little money and it shows.

But what I was really interested in was Patsy Kelly. I read about her and Thelma Todd on Movie Morlocks, and it piqued my interest. You see, Kelly was an open lesbian, and this made it hard for her to get roles - at least until the 60s, when her TV career picked up.

She's a sharp-tongued comedian here, and smarter than her husband Jack Haley. They make a good team, him a little weak and clueless, her all spiky and full of vinegar. She makes an OK film into one that's worth watching. Next up: Road Show, where she has at least a minor role.

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