A delightful comedy-drama of a Catholic college that saves itself from bankruptcy with a football team. The lines, a principal factor in carrying the film, are zinged home by the performers under the neat directorial timing of Michael Curtiz, who also mixes in a nice touch of sentiment.
John Wayne is completely at home in a role that, while action-ful in most phases, leans towards a humorous lightness. Charles Coburn wallops dialog lines delightfully incongruous to the priest character he plays. Donna Reed gives her role as a probation officer all that it needs. Other standout in casting is young Sherry Jackson, as Wayne’s little daughter.
Coburn heads the bankrupt St Anthony’s College in New York, which has been ordered closed because he’s $170,000 in debt. Searching for an out, the rector decides a football team is needed. His scouting uncovers Wayne, a cynical ex-coach who had been kicked out of most of the big college leagues, not from lack of ability but from being unable to conform. Wayne spurns Coburn’s offer until he sees the job as a sanctuary to defeat the threats of his ex-wife Marie Windsor to take custody of their daughter.