Campus Rhythm Is Upbeat

Campus Rhythm Is Upbeat
A dominant theme in popular films during 1943 was the battle of good vs. evil.

Whether it was the struggle between the forces in the ongoing war, or between the minions from heaven & hell playing tug-of-war with one’s soul, audiences were constantly reminded that the world was teetering on the precipice of possible disaster.

It is imagined that most patrons exited the theater somberly and full of reflection.

Thankfully, some of the smaller studios produced several light and amusing distractions that could fill a double bill nicely, and would also provide a much-needed escape from the dark world just outside the theater exits.

In other words, no evil whatsoever. It was all good.

One such amusing, gem of a film is Campus Rhythm, produced at Monogram Studios. The film offers some well-executed – but not so well-known – tunes performed by talented singers and voice actors who were better known for their work in radio than on the silver screen. A smart move for the studio because it kept budgets low without sacrificing talent.

Campus Rhythm remains a perfect diversion from the woes of the world. There is nothing deep, dark, or heady about its premise. Relationships are not overly examined, and there is no high-road moral to punch one in the gut at the end.

No one dies.

No one is destroyed.

And everyone can sing like a bird.

If that isn't enough enticement, the run time is only about an hour. Consider it guilt-free entertainment.

In addition, the film is filled with a balance of oddities making the sweetness not too saccharine, and the goofy antics amusing but not quite slapstick.

As you’d expect, the story is fairly simple. Joan Abbott is known as the Crunchy-Wunchy Thrush. Crunchy-Wunchy Cereal is the big sponsor of the radio program of which Joan is the star “thrush,” or girl singer.

Joan has been working in showbiz since she was a tot. She’s tired of the grind and plans to fulfill her dream of going to college. Unfortunately, her Uncle Willie is forced to extend her performance contract with Crunch-Wunchy. Decidedly miffed, Joan runs away and enters college anyway.

Because of her fame, she enrolls at Rawley University as “Susie Smith,” and immediately attracts the attention of Buzz O’Hara, the popular leader of the Kappa Psi band. Buzz quickly makes his move, but Joan seems to be interested in serious-minded Scoop Davis, editor of the campus newspaper.

The biggest conflict in the film is whether the musician or the writer gets the girl.

There are no big dance numbers to speak of, but all of the songs are upbeat and fanciful. Funny lines are sprinkled throughout, mostly at the expense of Uncle Willie.

As for the players, Gale Storm, of My Little Margie fame, plays Joan Abbott, the Crunchy-Wunchy Thrush, as a determined and bright young woman who is savvy beyond her years.

Robert Lowery plays handsome and flirty Buzz, and Johnny Downs plays the over-serious Scoop.

Character actress Marie Blake has the small but funny role as the real Susie Smith. You might know Blake as the sister of Jeanette MacDonald; however, it’s more likely you’ll recognize her as the woman who will eventually play “Grandmama” on the 1960s television show, The Addams Family.

Adding to the comedic aspects of the film is Candy Candido, whose signature was to use his full four-octave vocal range when speaking each sentence. It’s impossible to describe this bit; you’ll just have to see it to believe it. And then, you still might wonder.

Ultimately, watching Campus Rhythm won’t change your life or your worldview, but it does provide an entertaining departure from life’s daily stressors. And for that, one can be truly thankful.

NOTE: I screened this film at my own expense. Free-to-view versions are available digitally. If you already have an Amazon Prime account, the film may be offered to you free of charge. This film may also be available through other free or subscription-based services.

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This content was written by Lucinda Moriarty. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Lucinda Moriarty for details.