Jack Kelly (William Haines) is a talented golfer, but can’t spend all of his time on the sport. He and his father (Bert Woodruff) both work for Mr. Waters (George Fawcett), a fellow golfer who runs a shipping company.One day, Mr. Waters fires Pop Kelly, and Jack can’t contain his anger. He grabs the nearest golf club and hits a ball, breaking the window. Mr. Waters sees this happen, but rather than getting mad, he’s impressed!
After his show of talent in front of Mr. Waters, Jack receives an invitation to spend at least two weeks at The Oakmont Country Club, where he will help Mr. Waters become a better golfer.
At the country club, Jack meets Allie Monte (Joan Crawford), and it’s love at first sight… for him, at least. Allie sees through him when he introduces himself by pretending they’ve met before, but as days pass, she begins to be charmed by him.
Spring Fever was directed by Edward Sedgwick and is based on a Vincent Lawrence play of the same title. This MGM silent comedy aired on TCM in March, with original music by Darrell Raby.
When I realized a few minutes into this film that golf would play a large part in the story, my expectations plummeted. Golf is one of my least favorite sports, and I suspected I wouldn’t enjoy a film with a heavy focus on it, even if the run-time is only 78 minutes.
But as often happens when I doubt a film due to some small part of its subject matter, I found myself and my biases proven wrong. Spring Fever is a nice watch. The pace is fast, and there is much more to the story than just golf tournaments and practice games. For one thing, there’s a budding romance to hold the viewer’s attention, as Jack tries his darnedest to win over the lovely Allie Monte.
Jack’s close relationship with his father is one deeper element I didn’t expect from the story. There is one scene in particular that I found moving. After Jack gets the invitation to the country club, his father is overwhelmed with sadness and doesn’t want him to leave, though he knows it will be a great opportunity. The scene is a very sweet portrayal of the bond between parent and child.
While there are a few sentimental and dramatic scenes, the film delivers plenty of laughs, too. There are highly amusing sight gags — a scene where Jack pulls faces and mocks Mr. Wilson while walking behind him, for example.The film’s humor and sweetness are carried off effortlessly by the very talented cast of players. All involved give very good performances.
Spring Fever is a delightful little picture that exceeded my expectations. Well-acted and offering a nice mix of comedy and drama, this flick is definitely worthy of a watch. Joan Crawford fans in particular will delight in the opportunity to see young Joan in her third Hollywood year. The score: 4/5