Movie Review: All-American Co-Ed (1941)

Synopsis: Hoping to boost recruitment by putting on a musical revue, the all-female Mar Brynn Horticulture School decides to offer scholarships to 12 beauty pageant winners and, to advertise the effort, pokes fun at a Quincton College fraternity. Seeking revenge by causing a scandal, the fraternity president, Bob Sheppard wins one of the scholarships posing as a woman. However, the plan quickly begins to fall apart when he falls in love with one of the students, Virginia.

Who's in it? The movie stars Frances Langford, Johnny Downs, Marjorie Woodworth, Esther Dale and Alan Hale, Jr.


Review: I came across this movie some time ago on Epix and was undecided about whether to watch it or not. Ultimately, I remembered I enjoyed similar films, like The Cowboy Quarterback, and decided to take the time to watch it. After finally seeing it, I find myself somewhat disappointed with the way this movie wasted its potential.

Sometimes a movie can have a really good premise and ruin it by bogging things down with too much unneeded filler. That was the case with this film, which was less than an hour in length and might have been barely half an hour if it weren't for the lengthy musical numbers. 

To clarify, I'm not opposed to musicals in general and would have been perfectly fine with the performances had they been used to advance the plot in some way. However, with the exception of the last performance, which was at least in the background as some other stuff was happening, that just wasn't the case. With the already short run time, this movie really didn't have time for that.

In fact, I think the main story itself, Bob (Downs) trying to pass himself off as a co-ed, got less screen time than those musical numbers did. Other than an admittedly funny scene involving him trying to recover his real clothes from the laundry room, the movie didn't even bother putting him in a position where there was any threat the ruse would be discovered. 

If anything, he spent just as much time walking around the campus as himself with people barely questioning who he was or why he was there despite the school having a rule against male visitors. This, at minimum, minimized any impact a discovery of his alter ego would have.

I'm also not going to lie; I was more than a little confused about Mar Brynn's recruitment efforts. This includes both that musical revue at the end (it was a horticulture school, not a performing arts school) and why they felt the need to use an attack on the fraternity to advertise the scholarships. But to be fair, I also think the first musical number, involving the entire fraternity dressing up as women, probably could have used a little bit of explanation as well. So, I guess I'll just chalk this up to the filmmakers being focused on getting laughs and not as focused on having a plot that actually made sense.

Final Opinion: I think this could have been an entertaining and funny movie had the film focused more on the main plot and less on the filler song and dance numbers. The film has some talented actors and actresses and it's disappointing they were effectively wasted on a too short and forgettable movie.

My Grade: D+

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