Let’s Go Rowing with Lord Paddington

Promotional poster for Let’s Go Collegiate (1941).

2 February 2018

Greg Denieffe writes:

In 2009, when Hear The Boat Sing was in its infancy, Göran wrote an article called More Rowing Films – Good and Bad that included a review of the 1941 American film Let’s Go Collegiate. Göran wrote: “Well, do not bother to buy a copy of the film as the rowing scenes are terribly bad, and you can watch it for free on archive.org, click here.”

The film hasn’t improved with age; the rowing action is simply atrocious. If it has any redeeming features, they are that there are a few nice dance tunes and some aerial shots of real rowing on what looks like the Marine Stadium in Long Beach, California. You can read a decent review of the film on vintage 45’s Blog, a site that reviews old movies and TV shows and presumably knows nothing about rowing. I stumbled across ‘Collegiate’ on YouTube recently and decided to search for promotional posters that featured a rowing image and found a couple of contemporary ones and a more recent image from a 2007 re-release. I particularly like the poster that is colourised in the style of a comic postcard and the fact that in it, Gale Storm’s hair is a wee bit ginger. Storm died in 2009 and her obituary published in the Independent  mentions this film: “Her first film for Monogram was Let’s Go Collegiate (1941) in which she was sixth-billed, but had a song solo, “Sweet Sixteen”. Sixth-billed, and still the poster girl!

An original 3sh (three sheet) poster from 1941/42 for Let’s Go Collegiate and the cover of the DVD released in 2007. Poster photo: eMoviePoster.com.

‘Let’s Go Collegiate’ – No need to download, just click and watch.

Another film that Göran has written about is A Chump At Oxford, the 1940 feature film staring Laurel and Hardy. Interestingly, this was on Channel 5 (UK) over Christmas and as a big fan of Stan and Ollie, I thought I would watch it and introduce my children to them. It was the full length B&W version including the prologue that was added for European audiences. For me, the best part of the film is after Ollie is accidentally turned into Lord Paddington and for the only time in their on screen careers, the rotund Stanley is bossed around by his skinny partner.

There is no rowing in the film but as noted by Göran in his article:

in the long ‘European’ version of the movie, we see a plaque of all of Lord Paddington/Stan’s achievements as a sportsman, including ‘International [sic] Oarsman of the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race’.

Lord Paddington’s Certificate of Achievement. Photo: A screenshot from the colour release of ‘Let’s Go Collegiate’.
Stan and Ollie and their stunt doubles on the set of ‘A Chump at Oxford’.

You can watch the original B&W version of ‘Chump’ here and a colour version here.

 Whilst we know from the certificate that Lord Paddington was an oarsman and the stroke of the crew, we don’t get to see him in rowing action. However in 1929, in a ‘short’ called Men O’War we get to see his potential as a rower.

It is the short Laurel and Hardy films that remind me of my youth. We had a small black and white television and one channel, RTE. At least once a week, Laurel and Hardy would be aired – they made over 100 films together of which 79 were of the short variety. As soon as I hear the opening bars of their theme music, Dance of the Cuckoos, I’m back home in the 1960s.

Poster for ‘Men O’War’ – “All Talking” – It was their third ‘talkie’ and is very funny.

In Men O’War, Stan and Oliver, two sailors on leave, meet two girls at a park and invite them to have a soda. Unfortunately, the boys have only enough money to split theirs, a point which Oliver can’t seem to get across to his friend. That problem is solved when Stan hits the jackpot on a slot machine. The boys rent a rowing boat with the ladies. Stan and Ollie man the oars and of course mayhem ensues. I think Ollie has the better technique through the water, but Stan is no slouch at washing out, which allows the comedy to develop.

A still from ‘Men O’War’ featuring the Oliver Hardy “anti-let-her-run” technique.

‘Men O’ War – The rowing action starts at 12.30 and lasts for seven minutes.

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