A Yank at Oxford (1938)

100 or 103 mins | Comedy | 18 February 1938

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HISTORY

This was the first of four films made by M-G-M at their British studios in Denham, England and, according to a news item in MPD , it cost $900,000 to make. Reviews note that the production was not allowed to film any sequences at Oxford University itself and had to use studio streets and sets to represent it. An ad in HR on 24 Feb 1938 notes that portions of the film were shot on location at Denham Court, Buckinghamshire, England. Some of the picture was also shot at M-G-M's main studio in Culver City, CA. According to a pre-production news item in HR , Elliott Morgan, who was an Oxford student, was to act as technical advisor for the film. A news item in DV notes that some rewrites were needed on the script to accommodate English audiences; however, some unidentified contemporary British reviews contained in the BFI Library file on the film expressed the opinion that it still presented an unrealistic picture of English university life. An article in Life magazine on the film notes that M-G-M was trying to give popular star Robert Taylor a less "pretty boy" image by including considerable footage in the film illustrating his athletic abilities and by releasing publicity shots of him working out in preparation for his role. According to a news item in HR , when Taylor's boat landed in England shortly before the start of the picture, thousands of female British fans crowded the docks to greet him. Later news items noted that a continual deluge of publicity about Taylor started to "backfire" in England ... More Less

This was the first of four films made by M-G-M at their British studios in Denham, England and, according to a news item in MPD , it cost $900,000 to make. Reviews note that the production was not allowed to film any sequences at Oxford University itself and had to use studio streets and sets to represent it. An ad in HR on 24 Feb 1938 notes that portions of the film were shot on location at Denham Court, Buckinghamshire, England. Some of the picture was also shot at M-G-M's main studio in Culver City, CA. According to a pre-production news item in HR , Elliott Morgan, who was an Oxford student, was to act as technical advisor for the film. A news item in DV notes that some rewrites were needed on the script to accommodate English audiences; however, some unidentified contemporary British reviews contained in the BFI Library file on the film expressed the opinion that it still presented an unrealistic picture of English university life. An article in Life magazine on the film notes that M-G-M was trying to give popular star Robert Taylor a less "pretty boy" image by including considerable footage in the film illustrating his athletic abilities and by releasing publicity shots of him working out in preparation for his role. According to a news item in HR , when Taylor's boat landed in England shortly before the start of the picture, thousands of female British fans crowded the docks to greet him. Later news items noted that a continual deluge of publicity about Taylor started to "backfire" in England by the time the film started production, however.
       When the picture had its London premiere at the Empire Theatre, a direct broadcast was made for M-G-M's Good News radio program. The film's stars, plus M-G-M head Louis B. Mayer were on the broadcast, as was Gilbert Russell, a popular radio personality known in England as Val Rosing. The broadcast was heard at 9:00 p.m. in New York and at 3:00 a.m. in London, according to the news item. According to a modern source, Mayer's anger that an "unknown" actress, Vivien Leigh, was cast in the second female lead increased a rift between himself and the film's producer, Michael Balcon, who was also the head of production at M-G-M British. The rift soon resulted in Balcon's resignation and the appointment of Ben Goetz to the post. M-G-M recreated the theme of A Yank at Oxford for its 1942 Mickey Rooney film, A Yank at Eton . Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy satirized its title in 1940 in the Hal Roach production of A Chump at Oxford (see above). When the 1984 M-G-M/UA film Oxford Blues , directed by Robert Boris and starring Rob Lowe, was released, it was called a remake of A Yank at Oxford , but its plot bears only a vague resemblance to the 1938 film. An earlier M-G-M film, Huddle (1932, see above), contained an incident within the story that is very similar to the part of A Yank at Oxford involving a woman sneaking into a man's quarters and another person covering for him, but the later film does not credit any of the screenwriters of the earlier film, or the author of the original novel on which it was based. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
21 Oct 37
p. 1.
Daily Variety
22 Jan 38
p. 3.
Film Daily
30 Aug 37
p. 10.
Film Daily
27 Jan 38
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jul 37
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Sep 37
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Sep 37
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Sep 37
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Oct 37
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Oct 37
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jan 38
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Feb 38
p. 7.
Life
14 Feb 38
pp. 22-23.
Motion Picture Daily
4 Mar 38
p. 2.
Motion Picture Daily
24 Mar 38
p. 8.
Motion Picture Daily
18 Apr 38
p. 1.
Motion Picture Herald
29 Jan 38
p. 48, 53
New York Times
25 Feb 38
p. 15.
Variety
2 Feb 38
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer British Studios
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Orig story
Orig story
Orig story
Based on an idea by
Contr to scr const
Contr to scr const
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Supv film ed
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus score
Mus score
SOUND
Rec dir
Rec dir
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
DETAILS
Release Date:
18 February 1938
Production Date:
13 September--late November 1937 at Denham Studios, England
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
8 February 1938
Copyright Number:
LP7836
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
100 or 103
Length(in reels):
11
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
4009
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Dan Sheridan has spent so much time and money helping his son Lee in his collegiate athletic career that he is in danger of losing his small town newspaper. When Dean Williams of Lakedale State College offers Lee a Rhodes Scholarship to Cardinal College at Oxford, Lee is overjoyed, but turns it down so that he can help repay his father. Dan gets the badly needed money from banker Ben Dalton, however, and Lee is on his way, cheered on by his local friends and fans. After arriving in England, Lee makes such a fool of himself bragging about his athletic triumphs that Paul Beaumont and his friends Wavertree and Ramsey trick him into leaving his train before Oxford to avoid a non-existent reception committee at the station. This introduction to Oxford makes him want to leave, but Scatters, his "scout," convinces him to stay on. Soon he starts to date Beaumont's sister Molly, study and win track meets. When he is told to rest rather than enter a relay race, Lee pushes Paul aside at the last moment and wins, but in retaliation for unsportsmanlike conduct, the entire college takes his pants at a hazing. Blaming Paul, Lee looks for him at a tavern. In a scuffle, Paul is blamed for hitting the dean of Cardinal, even though Lee threw the punch. Because Wavertree thinks that he saw Paul do it, Paul is scorned by his friends when he says that Lee did it. Though slightly ashamed of himself, Lee lets Paul take the blame and becomes the new class favorite. Lee tries to make amends with Paul and to ... +


Dan Sheridan has spent so much time and money helping his son Lee in his collegiate athletic career that he is in danger of losing his small town newspaper. When Dean Williams of Lakedale State College offers Lee a Rhodes Scholarship to Cardinal College at Oxford, Lee is overjoyed, but turns it down so that he can help repay his father. Dan gets the badly needed money from banker Ben Dalton, however, and Lee is on his way, cheered on by his local friends and fans. After arriving in England, Lee makes such a fool of himself bragging about his athletic triumphs that Paul Beaumont and his friends Wavertree and Ramsey trick him into leaving his train before Oxford to avoid a non-existent reception committee at the station. This introduction to Oxford makes him want to leave, but Scatters, his "scout," convinces him to stay on. Soon he starts to date Beaumont's sister Molly, study and win track meets. When he is told to rest rather than enter a relay race, Lee pushes Paul aside at the last moment and wins, but in retaliation for unsportsmanlike conduct, the entire college takes his pants at a hazing. Blaming Paul, Lee looks for him at a tavern. In a scuffle, Paul is blamed for hitting the dean of Cardinal, even though Lee threw the punch. Because Wavertree thinks that he saw Paul do it, Paul is scorned by his friends when he says that Lee did it. Though slightly ashamed of himself, Lee lets Paul take the blame and becomes the new class favorite. Lee tries to make amends with Paul and to defend him to Molly, but Paul will not accept his overtures. One night, however, Lee is able to do Paul a favor when he hides Elsa Craddock, a married woman with whom Paul has been having a clandestine affair, in his own room. Rather than expose Paul, Lee accepts the blame when Tom Craddock arrives, and is therefore sent down by the dean. Though saddened to leave Oxford, Lee is overjoyed at the parade that his fellow students offer him until he sees his father, who has come to England to watch the big crew race against Cambridge. Dan knows that Lee loves Molly too much to be seeing another woman and so, with the help of Elsa, Molly and Wavertree, Lee is reinstated. Elsa tells the dean that Lee was merely being a gentleman and that it was Wavertree whom she was seeing. Wavertree, who wants to be sent down to gain his rich uncle's approval, is overjoyed, and Paul and Lee are reconciled in time to win the big race together with the happy Molly and Dan cheering them on. +

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.