“Look this is a musical comedy college. No one could save it but Rogers and Hammerstein.”
Trouble Along the Way is not your typical John Wayne film. There is not a horse or a cowboy or a desert in sight. Here Wayne is a regular guy named Steve Williams who struggles to make his way in the world. Steve is a single father who is not bringing up his daughter Carol in the best way but they love each other and he takes great care of her. His ex- wife Anne is out to make Steve miserable by trying to gain custody of Carol when she does not even care for the child at all. Anne walked out on Steve without a care in the world. Steve used to be a football coach now he makes his living gambling.
A Catholic college named St. Anthony’s is about to be closed for good. The Father Rector Matthew Burke runs the school. There is no money coming into the school because Father Burke does not take tuition from most of his students. In order for the school to stay opened it needs $170, 000. He comes up with the idea to make their football team into a great football team to draw crowds. Steve’s name is suggested and eventually the former coach has another job.
Steve pulls out all the stops getting new equipment and turning in favors and even a bribe or two. Some of the “freshmen” in the college are not exactly young boys as Steve has recruited some of the best players he can think of who want to play and also want an education. The first game of the season is played at the Polo Grounds. Father Burke through the Cardinal (who was a former student of Father Burke’s) schedules the college to play all the top Catholic universities. St. Anthony’s finally wins a football game.
Unfortunately things do not go well for Steve and Carol as well as the school. The ending is not a typical classic movie ending all happy and resolved with Steve and Carol but the school does get saved and Father Burke steps down as head of the school.
The cast was very good. I really liked seeing John Wayne outside of his usual Western films. I do not think he was a good actor but I did not find him too bad. I liked seeing him in a modern setting in modern clothes, I actually found him to be a bit handsome. He had some very funny lines which he delivered well. Before this film I had never seen Donna Reed in a film. I liked her she was good in this film. To me she looked so much like Paulette Goddard it got distracting at times. Sherry Jackson who played Carol was excellent. I love it when little kids are feisty and speak their minds. The actors who played Anne and her new rich husband were perfect in their parts. The characters are so evil and nasty they are truly annoying (I always say if an actor or actress creates a very hateful character they are doing a great job at making you not like them which is the point).
Michael Curtiz directed Trouble Along the Way and Max Steiner created the score.
Trouble Along the Way is a cute film. It is not one of John Wayne’s well known films most likely because he is not playing a cowboy out in the Old West. I really do not see any problem with this film. The pacing, story, screenwriting, acting, and directing were all very well done. I suggest seeing Trouble Along the Way if you can find it.