Campus Rhythm (1943)


(via movieart.net)

Joan Abbott (Gale Storm) is the “Crunchy Wunchy Thrush,” a radio singer. Fed up with her current gig, Joan has dreams of going to a college and is very determined to get there.

Joan’s employers don’t look kindly on her ambitions — they want her to continue on as the Crunchy Wunchy lady, singing her little heart out on the radio and raking in the ratings.

Their minds change pretty quickly when she throws a book through her boss’s office window. And so, off Joan goes to life on the big campus, where she enrolls under a different name to ensure that her boss can’t track her.

Things start off rocky when she arrives at the wrong address, landing on the doorstep of a house full of rowdy boys (including Robert Lowery as Buzz O’Hara) rather than the girls’ dormitory. Luck is on her side and the boys are helpful (and also quite flirty, and also musicians), but things soon turn bumpy again when her former employer stages a publicity stunt to search for her.

Clocking in at only 61 minutes long, Campus Rhythm is a short and sweet musical comedy. The filmmakers somehow manage to pack upwards of ten musical performances into just over an hour, which is quite a feat, especially considering that they also manage to keep the plot moving successfully.

The plot itself, though fast-paced and fun, is nothing that hasn’t been done before. It’s a predictable college love triangle with the added intrigue of white lies, a manhunt and the integration of cutesy tunes.

Most of the laughs come from the very odd use of vocal tricks in the character of Harold (Candy Candido). Mid-sentence and mid-song his voice takes screeching turns, ranging from utterly squeaky to a depth reminiscent of Lurch in The Addams Family.

This gimmicky gag isn’t the only thing the film has going for it, though it is the most obvious source of comedy. An overstated performance by GeGe Pearson as frat party singer Babs is also delightfully funny, as is Johnny Downs in his role as a stuffy journalist – “Scoop” Davis – who warms up to Joan once he finds out that she’s interested in newspapers. Downs is the perfect suspicious reporter, and we all know by now how partial I am to anything even remotely journalism-related..

Despite these strong supporting performances, it’s Gale Storm who really shines here. She has a delightful voice, a sweet demeanor and a cheerful face. She wins over the audience with little to no effort, and it’s hard not to love the film despite it’s shortcomings with Storm at the helm. The score: 3.8/5

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