Too Many Girls (1940)

(Image via Doctor Macro)

Clint Kelly (Richard Carlson), Jojo (Eddie Bracken) and Al (Hal Le Roy) are big-time football players for big-time schools (Princeton, Harvard, Yale). All of them are pursuing up-and-coming athlete Manuelito (Desi Arnaz, in his film debut) and trying to recruit him to their schools.

While the four are hanging around discussing Manuelito’s prospects, they all decide to drop out of college when a wealthy man named Harvey Casey (Harry Shannon) offers them jobs as bodyguards for his feisty daughter, Consuelo (Lucille Ball). The job comes complete with a “hands off, no romance” clause.

Their real job is not to protect her from harm, but to keep her from getting herself into trouble. Connie has come back to the States, saying that she wants to go to Pottawatomie College – a front for her romance with a rich writer who lives near the school.

Upon arrival at the college, one of the “bodyguards” begins to fall for Connie, and she for him. Meanwhile, the other three young men focus on the 10:1 ratio of women to men at the college, and the romantic success that it will inevitably bring for them.

George Abbott directs Too Many Girls, the 1940 musical where Lucy and Desi first met (though they aren’t love interests in the film). Along with Lucy, Desi, Carlson, Bracken and Le Roy, Ann Miller makes a scene-stealing appearance as one of Pottawatomie’s many female students.

Too Many Girls is based on the book by George Marion Jr. and was adapted for the screen by John Twist. The book also served as the basis for a 1939 broadway production in which much of the film’s cast also starred.

(Image via Doctor Macro)

Football isn’t my thing at all, so in the beginning of the film, with all of the sports talk, I wasn’t expecting much from Too Many Girls. Even the opening song is about football!

However, I ended up pleasantly surprised. The film won me over eventually with its witty dialogue, sweet songs and adorable cast.

The plot is simple, but definitely succeeds in keeping the viewer hooked throughout its duration. There are a few unexpected turns despite this simplicity. It’s never dull, never too slow. A mix of sports drama, fun music, witty comedy and sweet romance occupies the viewer’s complete attention.

The music of this film is absolutely lovely as well. The songs don’t always flow seamlessly with the rest of the film. It comes off very much like a stage musical, which makes sense because the director of the Broadway production also directed the film. It also strikes me as a bit odd that the character of Eileen (Frances Langford) gets to sing so many of the songs even though her character takes a back seat to the rest.

But still, the songs are very pleasant. Favorites include “‘Cause We Got Cake,” “Love Never Went to College” and “I Didn’t Know What Time it Was.”

Too Many Girls is a very fun, very cute film with a great cast and wonderful songs. The score: 4/5

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