Late Night: Pigskin Parade’s Footballers vs. the Commie Comic Foil


Spoiler alert: Plot points revealed!

Pigskin Parade (1936) features Judy Garland as the perky and talented sister of Amos Dodd, a hick kid illegitimately recruited to a Texas university in order to beat Yale in the season’s big game.  There is a hitch, though. Dodd is a hillbilly melon farmer who has never gone to school (but he is a super talented harmonica player,  music runs in that family!). Amos doesn’t have his admission credentials in place, so the clever members of football frat Delta Delta Pi come up with a solution:
One of the transferring DDP  members, Herbert Terwilliger Van Dyke, has already declared his loathing of football, arguing that the sport is a capitalist plot designed by meat barons. (Van Dyke is played by Elisha Cook, Jr. who five years later would appear in a completely different role as  Wilmer the gunsel in John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon.)

Though an obviously wealthy nerd, H. Terwilliger Van Dyke–as he calls himself–has actually done jail time (two months in jail in New Jersey!) by turning against his class and putting his beliefs  into action.  As H. Terwilliger Van Dyke tells his Texan frat brothers, while attending the (fictional) East Coast Bradley University, he:

crashed a brick through the window of a bank. The capitalistic faculty at Bradley expelled me.

As seen in the video above, the stalwart Texans set up Van Dyke by pretending to support his

vital message to the collegiate youth of the nation,

published in his  manifesto, Youth vs Capitalism: A Militant Message to College Students so they use HTVD’s credentials to get Amos into school after the budding radical is arrested re-creating the New Jersey bank window crashing escapade while tossing around copies of his manifesto. Wow, the frat boys are outside agitators!

So let’s see, the football coach knowingly recruits an ineligible, illiterate talented football player while members of the team:

• encourage vandalism
• get a frat brother arrested
• perpetuate what today would be considered identity theft in order to enroll the ineligible and illiterate Amos Dodd (and his sister) in college so the team can win against Yale
• finagle funds to pay for the sibling’s tuition
• force a false identity on Amos’ sister Sairy Dodd (Judy Garland) in order to encourage Amos to participate in the ruse.

Wow. So Pigskin Parade basically is saying that it’s better to be an unethical college sports coach or simply malicious, deceitful and cruel than to be a Commie. God/s bless America!

54 Responses to "Late Night: Pigskin Parade’s Footballers vs. the Commie Comic Foil"
Suzanne | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:01 pm 1

lisa!


BargainCountertenor | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:03 pm 2

All that means Lisa, is that the more things change, the more they stay the same…


BargainCountertenor | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:04 pm 3

Hiya, Suz. Is that grandbaby done yet?


Suzanne | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:05 pm 4
In response to BargainCountertenor @ 3

she’s not due to arrive until the middle of april… still has a ways to go before then


BargainCountertenor | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:07 pm 5
In response to Suzanne @ 4

Ach, somehow I had the idea things were imminent. I gather the sex has been determined? Or are you being gender-neutral?


DrDick | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:08 pm 6

Lisa!

In AmuriKKKa, it is better to be an underwater cesspool inspector than a commie. We absolutely cannot have equality of opportunity, open social mobility, and an equitable distribution of wealth which reflects the actual economic contributions of each group (let’s just say that garbage collectors would be better paid than Wall Street investors).


DrDick | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:09 pm 7
In response to Suzanne @ 4

That is around my son’s b’day.


Suzanne | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:09 pm 8

jen had an anatomic ultrasound on 11/20 which is when we found out she is a she. jen has also had some troubling cervical issues since the beginning of december so there are concerns that she will deliver early


tammanytiger | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:11 pm 9

Fortunately, the NCAA has since cleaned up college sports, and scandals are now the exception rather than the rule.


BargainCountertenor | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:12 pm 10
In response to tammanytiger @ 9

You’d better taper off on the psychoactives. Scandals are covered up better now — they are anything but the exception.


tammanytiger | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:14 pm 11
In response to BargainCountertenor @ 10

Damn. I forgot to add the tag.

By the way, I recommend “Death to the BCS,” which documents the big-dollar sleaze in college football.


tammanytiger | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:15 pm 12
In response to tammanytiger @ 11

“Tag” means snark tag. Evidently, putting “/snark” between tags makes it invisible.


DrDick | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:15 pm 13
In response to BargainCountertenor @ 10

Or more often, never even investigated. I remember that shortly after I finished my Ph.D. that a big one erupted whrn it was discovered that about half of the Oklahoma football players who graduated (a small minority of those recruited and who played) were functionally illiterate.


Suzanne | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:17 pm 14

lotsa folks get around that by just using slash followed by s /s to denote a snark tag


BargainCountertenor | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:17 pm 15
In response to DrDick @ 13

Only half were functionally illiterate?

That was back in the Switzer regime, right? I’m amazed that half of the grads from Barry’s teams were literate.


DrDick | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:22 pm 16
In response to BargainCountertenor @ 15

It was definitely Switzer time. Bear in mind that only a small fraction of the players ever graduated (less than 1/3 as I recall). Barry was a real piece of work. Apparently he was paying off the local police not to arrest the football players, despite a well known propensity for some of them to repeatedly put people in the hospital (Bosworth was particularly notable in this regard) or sexually assault coeds. Of course those kinds of incidents also involved paying off the victims.


BargainCountertenor | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:25 pm 17
In response to DrDick @ 16

In Manhattan around the same time there was a bar in Aggieville that was a notorious jock hangout, esp football players. It was a windowless cinderblock building.

I went there once — I wanted to catch the UCLA-USC game (I’m a former Bruin). What I saw going on in the open convinced me to leave in the first quarter. And we had anything except a winning football team…


Lisa Derrick | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:27 pm 18

in the movie, Judy’s character turns all preppy and chooses a new name Mureen. Her brother tells her it’s pretty and asks how she came by it.

Sairy/Mureen says

I read it on a bottle

stay classy, Daryl Zanuck


marymccurnin | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:28 pm 19

I have a question. I have wondered this for years. ok ready—why do white people in the movies from the thirties and forties talk weirdly? sort of Englishy but not Englishy? It must be class thing.


DrDick | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:29 pm 20
In response to BargainCountertenor @ 17

The Big 8 (and I am certain all of the top rated conferences) were pretty much the same in that regard. That was how you got to be a contender. There were a bunch of OKC businessmen that were talking about bringing an NFL team to OKC and we all joked that the state was not big enough for two pro teams.


AitchD | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:31 pm 21

How is ‘Elisha’ pronounced? TIA


BargainCountertenor | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:31 pm 22
In response to DrDick @ 20

True, dat. Actually, true both of that.

In the Switzer era, he was fielding something near a middling NFL team.


tammanytiger | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:33 pm 23
In response to Suzanne @ 14

Thanks for the tip!


DrDick | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:34 pm 24
In response to BargainCountertenor @ 22

Yep.


Phoenix Woman | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:36 pm 25
In response to marymccurnin @ 19

For the same reason that Lucille LeSueur became Joan Crawford and Nathan Birnbaum became George Burns and Joseph Levitch became Jerry Lewis: Non-WASP ethnicity was considered box office poison.


BargainCountertenor | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:38 pm 26
In response to DrDick @ 20

UCLA was so large that I didn’t have any sort of read on what was going on with athletics generally. I was a grad student in the School of Public Health, and we never saw any jocks.

I do know that the PE department changed its name and emphasis to Kinesiology while I was there. The jocks obediently changed their majors to Kinesiology and lasted about a quarter… that one was spread all over campus.


BargainCountertenor | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:41 pm 27
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 25

Lucille LeSueur ??? Not WASP, but soitenly not ethnic.


Lisa Derrick | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:43 pm 28
In response to marymccurnin @ 19

yeah, pretty much


DrDick | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:44 pm 29
In response to BargainCountertenor @ 27

I think for large swaths of America at that time anything not Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, or Celtic qualified as ethnic.


Lisa Derrick | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:45 pm 30
In response to AitchD @ 21

Eee –lee–sha


DrDick | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:46 pm 31
In response to Lisa Derrick @ 28

I think a lot of it was also the voice coaches of the time. Many of the actors of the era had pretty strong accents which would have put off much of the audience.


DrDick | Tuesday January 11, 2011 08:57 pm 32

Time for me to toddle off. Take care all.


Suzanne | Tuesday January 11, 2011 09:01 pm 33

g’nite dr dick


AitchD | Tuesday January 11, 2011 09:05 pm 34
In response to DrDick @ 31

Ha! Voice coaches. Georgia-bred Julia Roberts was coached to talk Hollywood Southern (i.e., like Foghorn Leghorn) for Steel Magnolias.

The ‘Englishy’ dialect of the period probably comes from New York Anglophiles. Radio was already very hot when movies started talking (1927+). Come the middle 1930′s you heard Hyde Park Patrician FDR all the time. The dialect trilled some ‘r’s or eliminated them altogetha. The ‘a’ (in ‘rat’) was the broad ‘a’ of ‘rawtha’ for ‘rather’. Yeah, Englishy and classy.


BargainCountertenor | Tuesday January 11, 2011 09:15 pm 35

Well, I need to go find the sheets. We get convoked and fed lotsa bad budget news tomorrow, and I’ve got to be up early.

Good night, folks.


Suzanne | Tuesday January 11, 2011 09:16 pm 36

g’nite bct


Lisa Derrick | Tuesday January 11, 2011 09:22 pm 37

nite bct!


racetoinfinity | Tuesday January 11, 2011 09:22 pm 38
In response to marymccurnin @ 19

It was. The upper class in movies of the 30s always spoke with a mid-Atlantic, if not upper class British accent, and anyone supposed to be a respectable upper-middle or upper class member in the cinema then, (esp. women) did too. And I think the rich of New England affected it at that time, also.


Lisa Derrick | Tuesday January 11, 2011 09:27 pm 39

Sorry I was away, I wont overshare except to say one roommate isn’t a very good plunger operator. Or mopper


Suzanne | Tuesday January 11, 2011 09:33 pm 40
In response to Lisa Derrick @ 39

oh yuck… all fixed now?


SirLurksAlot | Tuesday January 11, 2011 09:36 pm 41

great, gotta love those roomates. sounds nasty, but that flood’s got nothing on Brisbane, which is about to go completely underwater.


Lisa Derrick | Tuesday January 11, 2011 09:44 pm 42

Unsure if it’s 100% fixed and I am sooooo not amused


AitchD | Tuesday January 11, 2011 09:44 pm 43

Also some popular Hollywood actors of the era were British born: Leslie Howard (Ashley Wilkesof GWTW) and Boris Karloff, for instance. Most of us can still hear their ‘accents’. Yet, Howard’s parents were East-European immigrants to England — his birth name was Steiner; and Karloff’s birth name was William Henry Pratt, evidently changed to seem ‘foreign’. The movie The Petrified Forest is a great example of Hollywood diction and dialect, with Leslie Howard’s English inflections, Bette Davis’s ‘poetic’ speech — hey her character’s brother is a footballer!, and Bogart’s re-creation of his stage character, the psychopath Duke Mantee, talking slum-tough, right out of NYC. Bogart’s dialect is well-known and it wasn’t Englishy/classy, even though he was from New York society. His mother was a society Humphrey, his father a physician, and he had genuine class. But he broke the mold. Whaddaguy.


Lisa Derrick | Tuesday January 11, 2011 09:58 pm 44

Bogey was so rad!


SirLurksAlot | Tuesday January 11, 2011 10:00 pm 45

he sure knew how to smoke a cigarette…


mzchief | Tuesday January 11, 2011 10:12 pm 46

Great post, Lisa, and thread, commenters. Verrrry interesting. I thought American “moving pictures” before the 1960s were mostly so bizarre (e.g. “Mommy, how come there are only white people in the movie?”) that I by-passed them. You just confirmed that I wasn’t missing anything and the only point to studying them is for propaganda purposes. You all rawk.


AitchD | Tuesday January 11, 2011 10:19 pm 47
In response to mzchief @ 46

Casablanca is an exception with Dooley Wilson (Sam) playing a key role. Like my puns? And, oyeah, it was made only to be propaganda — the war wasn’t going well at all– but it’s an extraordinary masterpiece.


Lisa Derrick | Tuesday January 11, 2011 10:28 pm 48
In response to AitchD @ 47

definitely!


mzchief | Tuesday January 11, 2011 10:30 pm 49
In response to AitchD @ 47

Hmmm … well I’ll consider it. Yes, I am a glutton for puns.


mzchief | Tuesday January 11, 2011 10:32 pm 50

OT– Lisa, I thought you did great coverage in “Riot on Sunset Strip: Concert GOers Attacked with Rubber Bullets and Mace.”


AitchD | Tuesday January 11, 2011 10:35 pm 51
In response to Lisa Derrick @ 48

I love the blocking & editing when drunk Rick knocks over his glass, and Sam sets it aright, so the camera pov has to shift, so the door can be flung open behind Rick making Ilsa appear as if by magic. GENIUS!!!!


prostratedragon | Wednesday January 12, 2011 02:46 am 52

You had me at “melon farmer.” And then a really young Elisha “The Weak Link” Cook is truly a bonus. I must find this one!


gvandergrift | Wednesday January 12, 2011 03:29 am 53

Very interesting thread. Interesting comments about language in 1930s’ movies.

Elisha Cook, Jr. is in “The Big Sleep” (1946) and “Born to Kill” (1947) with Lawrence Tierney (“Reservoir Dogs”) and Claire Trevor (Best Supporting Actress award as E.G. Robinson’s girlfriend in “Key Largo”(1948)). BtK was an attempt to make Tierney a star. I wouldn’t exactly recommend it, but watched it fairly recently. I’ve never seen Cook in a movie role like the 1 initiating the thread.


gvandergrift | Thursday January 13, 2011 02:41 am 54

My 1st thought of Cook on Thursday was that he was in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Killing,” (1956) married to Marie Windsor, who is cheating on him with Vincent Edwards. The “killing” is a racetrack robbery, and this I recommend. Coleen Gray’s boyfriend, Sterling Hayden, has been in prison. She tells him “I ain’t pretty and I ain’t smart. If you leave me Johnny, I don’t know what I’d do.” Or words to that effect.


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