Cast & Crew
When David and Billy Lee's uncle Willie introduces them to the Sons of the American Legion, they start a troop of their own. Among the neighborhood sons of veterans is Butch Baker, a tough street kid who has been stealing from the Lees' hardware store. At the advice of legionnaire mentor Steven Scott, who dates David and Billy's sister Linda, David invites Butch into the troop and he is made chaplain. At the troop officer elections, David is voted captain, but must tell Scott his father Charlie has refused to allow him and Billy to join. Butch reads the Bible and is intrigued by the parable of David and Goliath and starts to look up to Scott. After the first meeting, however, Butch's father, "Gunman Baker," who was assumed dead, escapes from prison and flees to Butch's shack to hide from the police. When Butch refuses to go with his father, he hits him. That night David comes home late with a black eye from having defended his father's reputation to other kids, and Charlie is forced to explain himself. He says that while on leave in Paris before the armistice, he got drunk with some men from his home town and woke up in a hospital, having been robbed of his father's ring and badly beaten. A court-martial and dishonorable discharge followed. Remembering that Butch wears a ring he got from his father, who was also in Paris before the armistice, David races to Butch's shack to collect the ring. Baker shoots David, then forces Butch to drive them out of town. The police and a car of young legionnaires chase Baker, whose car goes over a cliff. Butch bails out in time and shows the boys the ring. Baker survives and confesses, and Charlie is exonerated. The Lee family marches in the Legion state convention parade, while Linda and Scott plan their wedding march.
Sonny Boy Williams
James T. Mack
A. E. Freudeman
Robert F. Mcgowan
Donald O'Connor, 1925-2003
Born Donald David Dixon O' Connor in Chicago on August 28, 1925, he was raised in an atmosphere of show business. His parents were circus trapeze artists and later vaudeville entertainers, and as soon as young Donald was old enough to walk, he was performing in a variety of dance and stunt routines all across the country. Discovered by a film scout at age 11, he made his film debut with two of his brothers in Melody for Two (1937), and was singled out for a contract by Paramount Pictures. He co-starred with Bing Crosby and Fred MacMurray in Sing, You Sinners (1938) and played juvenile roles in several films, including Huckleberry Finn in Tom Sawyer - Detective (1938) and the title character as a child in Beau Geste (1939).
As O'Connor grew into adolescence, he fared pretty well as a youthful hoofer, dancing up a storm in a string of low-budget, but engaging musicals for Universal Studios (often teamed with the equally vigorous Peggy Ryan) during World War II. Titles like What's Cookin', Get Hep to Love (both 1942), Chip Off the Old Block and Strictly in the Groove (both 1943) made for some fairly innocuous entertainment, but they went a long way in displaying O'Connor's athletic dancing and boyish charm. As an adult, O'Connor struck paydirt again when he starred opposite a talking mule (with a voice supplied by Chill Wills) in the enormously popular Francis (1949). The story about an Army private who discovers that only he can communicate with a talking army mule, proved to be a very profitable hit with kids, and Universal went on to star him in several sequels.
Yet if O'Connor had to stake his claim to cinematic greatness, it would unquestionably be his daringly acrobatic, brazenly funny turn as Cosmo Brown, Gene Kelly's sidekick in the brilliant Singin' in the Rain (1952). Although his self-choreographed routine of "Make "Em Laugh" (which includes a mind-bending series of backflips off the walls) is often singled out as the highlight, in truth, his whole performance is one of the highlights of the film. His deft comic delivery of one-liners, crazy facial expressions (just watch him lampoon the diction teacher in the glorious "Moses Supposes" bit) and exhilarating dance moves (the opening "Fit As a Fiddle" number with Kelly to name just one) throughout the film are just sheer film treats in any critic's book.
After the success of Singin' in the Rain, O'Connor proved that he had enough charisma to command his first starring vehicle, opposite Debbie Reynolds, in the cute musical I Love Melvin (1953). He also found good parts in Call Me Madam (1953), There's No Business Like Show Business (1954), and Anything Goes (1956). Unfortunately, his one attempt at a strong dramatic role, the lead in the weak biopic The Buster Keaton Story (1957) proved to be misstep, and he was panned by the critics.
By the '60s, the popularity of musicals had faded, and O'Connor spent the next several years supporting himself with many dinner theater and nightclub appearances; but just when it looked like we wouldn't see O'Connor's talent shine again on the small or big screen, he found himself in demand at the dawn of the '90s in a string of TV appearances: Murder She Wrote, Tales From the Crypt, Fraser, The Nanny; and movies: Robin Williams' toy-manufacturer father in Toys (1992), a fellow passenger in the Lemmon-Matthau comedy, Out to Sea (1997), that were as welcoming as they were heartening. Survivors include his wife, Gloria; four children, Alicia, Donna, Fred and Kevin; and four grandchildren.
by Michael T. Toole
Donald O'Connor, 1925-2003
The film's opening frame announces "This is one of the Movie Quiz $250,000.00 Contest Pictures." No additional information on this contest has been located. The Sons of the American Legion organization was founded in 1932. Motion Picture Herald on September 17, 1938 states the film was "already given a pre-release in the middlewest." The film's general release on September 18, 1938 coincided with the opening of the Legion Convention in Los Angeles. Early exploitation efforts linked the film with a cross-country caravan of fifty autos, which were scheduled to depart from the New York World's Fair September 6, 1938 enroute to the Los Angeles convention. Lynne Overman was scheduled to accompany the caravan, which had planned to visit seventy-two cities, with each car bannered for Sons of the Legion. The caravan was cancelled. Screen Achievements Bulletin credits William LeBaron as executive producer on this film, while Hollywood Reporter production charts list Harold Hurley. The New York Times called this film a "fatuous bit of jingoism."