Robert Taylor brings back from Oxford an entertaining rah-rah film which is full of breathless quarter-mile dashes, heartbreaking boat race finishes and surefire sentiment – Metro’s first British-made film under Hollywood supervision and with Hollywood principals and director.
Some of the opening sequennces were made on the west coast and pasted to what was shot in England. Taylor, Lionel Barrymore, Maureen O’Sullivan, Harold Rosson, cameraman, and Jack Conway and his directorial crew crossed the Atlantic. Their efforts were supported by British film and stage players, and Michael Balcon, formerly production head of Gaumont-British, acted as producer.
It is reported that the film players never were permitted within the sacred precincts of Oxford university which is unimportant from a picture viewpoint as the architectural reproductions have been carefully and effectively photographed.
What Conway has caught is the humor of student life at the university. This is the background for Taylor’s adventures, the wall against which a cocky Yank bounces his somewhat enlarged head, eventually regaining his poise a better and tamed human being. [Original story by Leon Gordon, Sidney Gilliatt and Michael Hogan, based on an idea by John Monk Saunders.]
Teamed to these sometimes hilarious adventures is a sentimental story which tells of Taylor’s liking for O’Sullivan, whose brother is a rival in undergraduate affairs.
Edmund Gwenn as the Dean of Cardinal College, one of the Oxford group, does a standout. Griffith Jones is an English boy, and gives a sincere and earnest performance. O’Sullivan and her diction fit nicely into ensemble, and Vivien Leigh, as a college vamp, has looks and a way about her.