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Start Cheering (1938) starring Jimmy Durante, Walter Connolly, The Three Stooges
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Start Cheering (1938) starring Jimmy Durante, Walter Connolly, The Three Stooges

I recently saw this classic romantic comedy/musical, Start Cheering, on Turner Classic Movies, and I was pleasantly surprised — I didn’t even realize initially that the Three Stooges (Moe HowardLarry FineCurly Howard) were in the film, but I was happy to find out that they did.

The basic plot has a movie/singing star, Ted Crosley. He’s tired of his life, and goes back to college under an assumed name. He’s accompanied by his friend, Willie Gumbatz (played by Jimmy Durante – the actual star of the showAnd very funny in his role as dim-witted pal).  The college that he attends, however, is on the verge of bankruptcy …. After the Dean has built a new football stadium (named after himself). He intends to make money by ticket sales once word has leaked out (courtesy of Ted’s manager, who wants him drop out of college) that the famous Ted Crosley will be playing football there.  Unfortunately, in real life, Ted’s not that good on the football field … And he falls in love with the Dean’s daughter, and the various romantic complications arise, as well.

The Three Stooges are on screen for only 2 major scenes:  One on the football field where they’re effectively tackling dummies ( a very funny scene).  And later on in the dorms where they play the part of firefighters and campus police.  They’re funny, but I frankly wouldn’t have sat through the movie for those two scenes.  Jimmy Durante, however, is a different story.  He plays his role of none-too-bright sidekick to the tilt. Hes very funny, and a pleasure to watch.

The songs and musical numbers are enjoyable, as well.  At this time, Start Cheering isn’t available on DVD.

Cast of characters

  • Jimmy Durante (Speak EasilyBilly Rose’s Jumbo) … Willie Gumbatz
  • Walter Connolly (Lady for a Day) … Sam Lewis
  • Joan Perry (Maisie Was a Lady) … Jean Worthington
  • Charles Starrett (The Mask of Fu Manchu 1932) … Ted Crosley
  • Craig E. Earle … Professor Quiz (as Professor Quiz)
  • Gertrude Niesen (This Is The Army) … Sarah
  • Raymond Walburn (Mr. Deeds Goes to Town) … Dean Worthington
  • The Three Stooges … The Three Stooges
  • Broderick Crawford (Born Yesterday) … Biff Gordon
  • Hal Le Roy (Too Many Girls) … ‘Tarzan’ Biddle
  • Ernest Truex (Private Buckaroo) … Blodgett
  • Virginia Dale (Holiday Inn) … Mabel
  • Chaz Chase (The Man on the Eiffel Tower) … Shorty
  • Jimmy Wallington … Announcer Jimmy Wallington
  • Romo Vincent (You’re Never Too Young) … Fatso
  • Gene Morgan … Coach Burns
  • Louise Stanley … Flo
  • Arthur Hoyt (It Happened One Night) … Librarian
  • Howard Hickman (Gone with the Wind) … Dr. Fosdick
  • Minerva Urecal (The Ape Man) … Miss Grimley
  • Arthur Loft (The Woman in the Window) … Joe Green
  • Nick Lukats (The Duke of West Point) … Nick Lukats
  • Louis Prima and His Band … Musical Ensemble
  • Johnny Green and His Orchestra … Musical Ensemble
  • Johnny Green … Johnny Green – Conductor of His Orchestra
  • Louis Prima (Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book) … Louis Prima – Conductor of his Band

Editor’s note: Originally published at Three Stooges Pictures, used with permission

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