Father Was a Fullback (1949)

84 mins | Comedy | October 1949

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HISTORY

An early working title for this production was Blind Date . Mary Stuhldreher's article is not credited onscreen as a source for this film but is listed as such in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library. Stuhldreher was the wife of University of Wisconsin football coach Harry Stuhldreher, one of Notre Dame's famed "Four Horsemen" of the late 1920s. Stock footage of football games from Movietone News was cleared for use in the production.
       Father Was a Fullback began production on 14 Mar 1949 with Elliott Nugent directing. An 18 Mar 1949 HR news item indicated that, after three days of shooting, Nugent withdrew as director as a result of an "entirely friendly" disagreement with producer Fred Kohlmar. Nugent had previously directed Mr. Belvedere Goes to College for Kohlmar. Footage shot by Nugent was to be retained. John M. Stahl took over as director on 21 Mar 1949. As described in his autobiography, at the time of his departure from the project, Nugent was unknowingly suffering from hypo-manic-depression, a condition that plagued him for a number of years and required occasional, voluntary hospitalization.
       Father Was a Fullback was the last film directed by Stahl, whose career began during the silent era and included Back Street (1932), Parnell (1937), The Keys of the Kingdom (1944) and Leave Her to Heaven (1945). He died in Jan 1950, at the age of 63. According to the legal files, sequences involving actors Frank Mills, Ruth Clifford, Fred Dale, Rodney Bell, Wilson Wood and Don Barclay were cut from ... More Less

An early working title for this production was Blind Date . Mary Stuhldreher's article is not credited onscreen as a source for this film but is listed as such in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library. Stuhldreher was the wife of University of Wisconsin football coach Harry Stuhldreher, one of Notre Dame's famed "Four Horsemen" of the late 1920s. Stock footage of football games from Movietone News was cleared for use in the production.
       Father Was a Fullback began production on 14 Mar 1949 with Elliott Nugent directing. An 18 Mar 1949 HR news item indicated that, after three days of shooting, Nugent withdrew as director as a result of an "entirely friendly" disagreement with producer Fred Kohlmar. Nugent had previously directed Mr. Belvedere Goes to College for Kohlmar. Footage shot by Nugent was to be retained. John M. Stahl took over as director on 21 Mar 1949. As described in his autobiography, at the time of his departure from the project, Nugent was unknowingly suffering from hypo-manic-depression, a condition that plagued him for a number of years and required occasional, voluntary hospitalization.
       Father Was a Fullback was the last film directed by Stahl, whose career began during the silent era and included Back Street (1932), Parnell (1937), The Keys of the Kingdom (1944) and Leave Her to Heaven (1945). He died in Jan 1950, at the age of 63. According to the legal files, sequences involving actors Frank Mills, Ruth Clifford, Fred Dale, Rodney Bell, Wilson Wood and Don Barclay were cut from the film before release. A HR news item of Aug 1949 reported that Fox had ordered 542 prints of Father Was a Fullback for openings in the U.S. and Canada, the greatest number of prints on a single feature in the company's thirty-five year history. A radio version of Father Was a Fullback , starring Paul Douglas, Maureen O'Hara and Betty Lynn, was broadcast on Lux Radio Theatre on 20 Mar 1950. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
20 Aug 1949.
---
Daily Variety
15 Aug 49
p. 3, 9
Film Daily
15 Aug 49
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Mar 49
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Aug 49
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Aug 49
p. 2.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
20 Aug 49
p. 4721.
New York Times
13 Oct 49
p. 33.
Variety
17 Aug 49
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Gaffer
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward dir
Cost des
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Scr supv
Tech adv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Suggested by the play Mr. Cooper's Left Hand by Clifford Goldsmith (Boston, 25 Sep 1945) and the article "Football Fans Aren't Human" by Mary Stuhldreher in The Saturday Evening Post (23 Oct 1948).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Blind Date
Release Date:
October 1949
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 30 September 1949
Production Date:
14 March--late April 1949
2 June 1949
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
16 September 1949
Copyright Number:
LP2670
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
84
Length(in feet):
7,594
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
13732
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

George Cooper, football coach at State U. in Riverville, is in the midst of a losing season and is warned by Roger Jessop, president of the alumni association, that many of the alumni are very concerned about the team's performance. George wants Jessop to recruit a local high school boy, Hercules Smith, the highest scoring quarterback in the country, but Jessop tells him that Smith is going to Notre Dame. Later, George's younger daughter Ellen arrives home with a black eye, the result of defending her father's performance at school. When George's insecure older daughter Connie, a frustrated, unpublished writer of romances, then complains that she is being rejected by boys, George tries to reassure her, but she dismisses his efforts. After church the next day, George finds himself in more trouble with Connie when he fails to introduce her to members of the football team in the congregation. To make her feel better, Ellen tells her that a boy named "Joe Burch" has been asking about her. Neighbor Professor Sullivan "Sully" is then persuaded by George to impersonate the potential suitor on the phone. Unfortunately, Sully's daughter Daphne overhears him, and he has to hang up, but Connie keeps talking and invites him to visit her that afternoon. Sully hires a gas station attendant to pose as Joe, and just as George is about to confess that the phone call was a phony, "Joe" comes to call. Connie's first date goes along quite well until Ellen bursts in dragging another "Joe Burch" and the deception is revealed. Connie is further humiliated when additional "Joes," hired by Daphne and Geraldine, show up. Later, the football team gets a big ... +


George Cooper, football coach at State U. in Riverville, is in the midst of a losing season and is warned by Roger Jessop, president of the alumni association, that many of the alumni are very concerned about the team's performance. George wants Jessop to recruit a local high school boy, Hercules Smith, the highest scoring quarterback in the country, but Jessop tells him that Smith is going to Notre Dame. Later, George's younger daughter Ellen arrives home with a black eye, the result of defending her father's performance at school. When George's insecure older daughter Connie, a frustrated, unpublished writer of romances, then complains that she is being rejected by boys, George tries to reassure her, but she dismisses his efforts. After church the next day, George finds himself in more trouble with Connie when he fails to introduce her to members of the football team in the congregation. To make her feel better, Ellen tells her that a boy named "Joe Burch" has been asking about her. Neighbor Professor Sullivan "Sully" is then persuaded by George to impersonate the potential suitor on the phone. Unfortunately, Sully's daughter Daphne overhears him, and he has to hang up, but Connie keeps talking and invites him to visit her that afternoon. Sully hires a gas station attendant to pose as Joe, and just as George is about to confess that the phone call was a phony, "Joe" comes to call. Connie's first date goes along quite well until Ellen bursts in dragging another "Joe Burch" and the deception is revealed. Connie is further humiliated when additional "Joes," hired by Daphne and Geraldine, show up. Later, the football team gets a big send-off when it leaves by train for its away games. They lose both and, on their return, are greeted at the station by a solitary dog. Connie has recovered from the Burch incident and is now intent upon pursuing a career as a writer, having redecorated her room in a very Spartan style and passing all her makeup on to Ellen. At the next game, George tells Jessop to get lost when he makes a coaching suggestion. The team loses again but this time in the last minute. To research a story about teenage motherhood, Connie, meanwhile, has written to governmental agencies for information, using her mother's name. George opens the mail and finds pamphlets titled "Facts About Infant Care" and "Your New-Born Baby" and assumes that his wife Elizabeth is pregnant. George then calls Jessop to apologize for his behavior and claims that he was nervous because his wife is going to have another baby. Jessop impresses upon him the importance of winning the next game, the last of the season. Later that evening, George is scheduled to talk at an alumni dinner. When Elizabeth returns from shopping, George tells her he is so happy about the "coming" event, but she tells him that she is not pregnant. After George shows Elizabeth the pamphlets, Ellen tells them that Connie is sick and that Connie sent for the pamphlets causing George and Elizabeth to jump to the conclusion that Connie is pregnant. Just as George begins his speech at the alumni dinner, Elizabeth phones from the hospital to say that Connie only has acute indigestion. George then promises the alumni that he will win the last game. On the day of the game, Connie receives a check for her first published story but Jessop soon arrives at the house with a copy of Confession Stories featuring Connie's article "I Was a Child Bubble Dancer." After George reprimands Connie severely, Elizabeth talks to Connie and Ellen about being more understanding toward their father. The first Joe Burch comes to call on Connie, congratulates her on the story and invites her to the football game. George plans to reveal a secret weapon, Willie Davis, the best runner on the track team, at the end of the game, but when Willie is finally summoned, he stands up in the dugout and knocks himself out on the concrete roof. After the game ends in another defeat, Jessop comes to advise George and Elizabeth not to renew the lease on their house. Connie then returns home from the game with Joe, whom Jessop recognizes as the star quarterback, Hercules Smith. Hercules then reveals that he has decided not to go to Notre Dame, but to State U. so he can be close to Connie. Jessop realizes that if Hercules is to stay, so must George and Elizabeth. Later that evening, their problems solved, George and Elizabeth suddenly realize that Ellen is about to go through the same adolescent phases as Connie. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.