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Those Were the Days! (1940) HD online

Those Were the Days! (1940) HD online
Language: English
Category: Movie / Comedy / Romance
Original Title: Those Were the Days!
Director: Theodore Reed
Writers: Don Hartman,George Fitch
Released: 1940
Duration: 1h 14min
Video type: Movie
A middle-aged couple think back to their college days and courtship.
Cast overview, first billed only:
William Holden William Holden - P.J. 'Petey' Simmons
Bonita Granville Bonita Granville - Martha Scroggs
Ezra Stone Ezra Stone - Alexander 'Allie' Bangs
Judith Barrett Judith Barrett - Mirabel Allstairs
Vaughan Glaser Vaughan Glaser - Judge Malachi Scroggs
Lucien Littlefield Lucien Littlefield - Professor Sillicocks
Richard Denning Richard Denning - Briggs
Phillip Terry Phillip Terry - Ransom
Tom Rutherford Tom Rutherford - Sam Byers
Aldrich Bowker Aldrich Bowker - Judge Squire Jennings
James Seay James Seay - Andrews
Douglas Kennedy Douglas Kennedy - Allen
John Laing John Laing - Saunders (as John Laird)
John Hartley John Hartley - Whipple
Mark Roberts Mark Roberts - Allison (as Robert Scott)

One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since.



Reviews: [4]

  • avatar

    Flamehammer

    This is an old-fashioned curiosity, a charming comedy for those who do not mind rather corny comedies set in 1904 and dealing with social situations so far removed from our own days that they border on the incomprehensible. It could therefore be called 'an antiquarian piece'. It is entertaining for viewers who are not demanding and like nostalgia which is so far back that no one alive today could possibly remember it. (Such nostalgia might be called 'imagined nostalgia'.) But, as the film was made in 1940, only 36 years after the story's supposed setting, we can be confident that much of it was realistically portrayed, because it was easy to remember that far back then. The film features lead performances by the 22 year-old William Holden (his third credited appearance on screen) and the 17 year-old Bonita Granville, who the previous year had completed the last of her Nancy Drew movies. The film also features the 27 year-old Alan Ladd in a bit part, though he is barely glimpsed early on in the film in a university fraternity house, and he has no lines. He does stand out, however, and just by being there he exudes 'presence', especially with his body language. He is instantly recognisable. The original title of this film was THOSE WERE THE DAYS, but as that was probably viewed as being too vague, the film was retitled to emphasize that it was about university life. The film is based upon a series of stories published in 1911 by George Fitch (1877-1915, died prematurely of complications following appendicitis) about a fictitious university which he called Siwash (pronounced in the film 'sigh-wash'), but which was based on Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, which he had attended. Probably there are elements of truth in the tales. It is interesting that Fitch's time at university was really considerably earlier than 1904, and that explains the distinctly 'Gay Nineties' flavour to the stories, since they are really set in the 1890s, and moving the film forward to 1904 was evidently an attempt at modernisation! The charm of Bonita Granville sparkles throughout this film, and anyone interested in her film performances will enjoy this one. I found William Holden only partially convincing. He also does not at this stage really look like William Holden, and in fact he looks rather uninteresting, and his makeup seems to have been laid on too thick, as his face looks unnaturally pasty. He blusters his way through the part of a rather wild and unruly freshman, has numerous adventures and vicissitudes, and learns to be less callous towards others. It is not a brilliant performance, but is acceptable. Vaughan Glaser as Bonita's father over-acts, but as the whole film is a bit over the top, that seems appropriate in the circumstances. Ezra Stone is somewhat amusing as Holden's nerdy roommate. People who do not come from America or who have no familiarity with university fraternities and sororities (other than the sorority portrayed in LEGALLY BLONDE) will be puzzled by the setting of the film. The university itself gets very little attention, as everything is focused on the fraternities, which are independent student houses (to which the students pay fees to become 'brothers' or 'sisters' and live in the houses) known as 'frat houses'. Fraternities have names based on Greek letters, and members are given 'fraternity pins'. They then bestow these upon the girls of their choice, and such a girl is said to be 'pinned'. In this film, the couple are thus said to be 'engaged', but by the 1960s this sort of thing had softened within the Ivy League to 'going steady'. Jokes, which in 1940 were still considered funny, were made about one girl who was 'pinned' by a boy from every frat house. This is so anachronistic now that it raises no laughs, but that is not the film's fault, it is the fault of Old Father Time. When freshmen arrived on campus, they were 'rushed' by the fraternities who rushed to recruit them and strove against one another to gain the new recruits. Freshmen in this film are often called 'freshers'. You have to know the lingo and understand the background concerning how that all works in order to make any sense of the film at all. I suppose this film therefore has value as a social document for the history of education in America, and people interested in what a university was like in the 1890s should see it for that reason. It is a co-ed university. The girls are all demurely dressed in their Gay Nineties dresses down to their ankles, and wear their hats in the chemistry lab. The naivete and innocence of all the students on matters of 'life and love' may seem incredible to us today, but is certainly accurate. As for the story itself, it portrays the outrageous antics of Holden and elevates university 'pranks' to an art form. As I once participated in some pretty wild and woolly 'pranks' or 'stunts' myself at university, I can assure viewers that nothing is impossible in that department, as the audacity of a prank is limited only by the imagination of the perpetrator, and one just has to hope that nobody gets hurt. (Holden really goes too far in crashing a street trolley into a house with a little old lady aboard. Tsk. Tsk.) What fun it all is being young and crazy. Alas, sober imaginative stunts at university seem to have given way nowadays to shootings by maniacs and drug-induced comas. Such lack of taste and such tawdry decadence! I would thus have to agree with the original title of this film and say of what I myself remember: 'those were the days'.
  • avatar

    Gribandis

    This is a very enjoyable saga of college life in the early 1900s, told in flashback by the main characters, presumably from the then-present year of 1940. This was one of William Holden's first starring films, and he gives a very entertaining, lively performance. His shenanigans are presented in a 'boys will be boys' manner, but in reality, some of his transgressions would have landed him in real, long-lasting trouble. It is a comedy, however, and such real-world intrusions need not apply. At the end of the movie, after we've seen his character commit just about every kind of felony (though in a good-natured way), we jump back to 1940, and get to hear Holden express frustrations about the crazy things HIS son has been doing. Pretty funny stuff.

    One thing that struck me while watching this movie is in fact just how good Holden is in it. When you consider that he was only about 22 years old, and hadn't had much acting training before he got into the movies, it is really kind of impressive. He had only two bit parts in films before he was catapulted to the top in "Golden Boy," in 1939. The stories about the making of that film are well known. How nervous he was at the beginning, and how he was almost yanked out of the picture, saved only by the insistence of star Barbara Stanwyck that he be kept in the part. How she coached him, and gave him confidence, so much so that he improved markedly over the course of the filming. Holden always credited her with giving him a career, and he never forgot her kindness, sending her flowers over the years, and always speaking up for her. She reciprocated, and always said how much she loved him.

    I recently had the opportunity of watching most of Holden's films, in a period of a few weeks. Seeing an actor's complete body of work in such a short time, gives you a real feel for the progression of their careers and abilities. As I say, I was impressed by how quickly he got a handle on the acting thing, and how assured he was at such a young age. He was a natural, I guess. He had very little stage experience, and majored in chemistry at college. What a jump! But he must have been a quick study. As examples, look at how good he is in "Invisible Stripes" and "Our Town," two early parts. He is also very good in the two westerns he did at that time- "Arizona," with Jean Arthur, in 1940, and "Texas," with Glenn Ford and Claire Trevor, in 1941. He handles himself well with horses and guns, and seems convincing, as does Ford. Incidentally, they started out at the same time, at the same studio, and apparently became good friends, chasing girls together, and doing what young guys do.

    The accepted take on Holden's career is that he played mostly bland, innocuous types until his breakthrough part in "Sunset Boulevard." That is half true, I think. For all his "Smiling Jim" parts (his phrase), he also played some fairly dark characters in those early years. His cowboy in "Texas" is pretty amoral; he plays fairly tough in "I Wanted Wings"; he is a good-bad guy in "Streets of Laredo"; and is an outright nasty character in "The Dark Past." I sometimes feel that "Sunset Boulevard" typed him as too much of the detached, cynical guy in his later films. Those qualities were great for the Wilder films, but he ended up playing variations on that character in most of his later films. It did give him a great career, though, and he WAS able to break out of these types, when he was given the opportunity. And he was good at portraying both of these kinds of characters. As with many actors, I think there was more depth to his career than we often remember.

    I can think of only one other actor who made it to the top so quickly, and also without much experience. This was Errol Flynn, who was an overnight sensation in "Captain Blood" in 1935, a film that propelled him into superstar ranks. Flynn, like Holden, had had very little acting experience. He made his first film, in Australia, in 1933, then acted for a year or so in England. He had only four films under his belt before he hit the big time. Like Holden, he was a natural, and he picked it up quickly, and gave pretty good performances throughout his career. He never won an Oscar, but he probably should have for "The Sun Also Rises." Amazing that these guys got to the top so quickly, without the years of training and struggling that so many other actors had to endure. It must have caused some resentment towards them by others less fortunate, as perhaps did their good looks. Perhaps becoming famous overnight isn't such a good thing, though, as both Holden and Flynn developed serious drinking problems, and they both looked older than their years when they reached middle age. In fact, drink contributed to both of their deaths. (I think they were in fact friends, or at least friendly, as they saw each other socially over the years. And Holden's wife, Brenda Marshall (called by her real name, Ardis, by her friends) co- starred with Flynn in two films, "The Sea Hawk" and "Footsteps in the Dark." She and Flynn made a good screen couple).

    Anyway, check out the film. Holden does a good job for such a young guy, and there are lots of good character actors in it. And some bits by future stars- Alan Ladd, for example. I guess those old movie moguls knew their business. They had pretty good track records in spotting the talent, and some kind of intuition for finding the gems among the untrained actors.
  • avatar

    Akir

    Those Were The Days marked William Holden's fourth film since Golden Boy and his first starring role in a Paramount picture. As they were the studio that discovered him, Paramount was finally getting a return on the money they invested in him. Holden had one of the more unusual contract agreements in Hollywood, he was split down the middle between Paramount and Columbia, the price he paid for Columbia using him as a complete unknown in his first starring film Golden Boy.

    The film is narrated by another cast member who is given aged makeup as is Holden and leading lady Bonita Granville. The story of their meeting and courtship is told when both were students at a most progressive university in 1904, Siwash College which was daringly coed.

    From his first moment on campus, Bill Holden sees himself as a big man on it. He's quite the campus cutup at Siwash, but a real bad bit of business culminating with him stealing an electric streetcar and running it off the tracks and crashing it into a building. He gets before the stern town judge Vaughn Glaser and now what to do before Glaser curtails his academic career.

    Answer, start putting the moves on Bonita Granville the judge's daughter who goes to Siwash and who Holden barely gave a passing glance before. I think you know where this is going and you'd be right, especially since the film is told in flashback.

    Paramount did a good job in recreating the college atmosphere of the Teddy Roosevelt era. I was waiting for Frank Merriwell to show up with tales of his athletic exploits that seemed all that was missing.

    Radio's Henry Aldrich, Ezra Stone plays Holden's roommate and only real friend on the campus and there's a nice subplot involving Stone with coed Judith Barrett who has taken fraternity pins from several young men including him. And she wears them proudly like a decorated war hero. As this was the beginning of the last century I'm sure what she did to earn them was G-rated.

    Paramount cast several of their young players as fraternity boys, those who did and didn't give their pins to Ms. Barrett. Among them are Richard Denning and Douglas Kennedy who would have some fair careers. But if you're not alert you'll miss Alan Ladd whose breakthrough would be coming in two years with This Gun For Hire at Paramount. If only someone had the presence of mind to give him some real screen time with William Holden with whom I'm he vied for roles at the White Mountain studio.

    Those Were The Days is a pleasant nostalgic comedy/romance of a bygone era that did give Bill Holden's career a nice boost at the time.
  • avatar

    Grillador

    With a father-in-law like Judge Vaughan Glaser, that is a sentence worse than life in prison, although I'm not quite sure about the potential bride-to-be, Bonita Granville. The groom is a young William Holden in his third film, playing a coiloge rabble-rouser whose appearance in Glaser's court can you get beds to a nose in the air from Granville but an obvious attraction to him hidden underneath. He's the type of college kid who could charm the fangs out of a lion's mouth although with judge Glaser, that doesn't seem likely to be happening. Glaser is one of those by the book judges who with the last name of Scruggs seems to be an American version of London's Ebenezer Scrooge. But this Scrooge is a widower with a young daughter and it is his determination to keep Granville and Holden apart no matter what it takes.

    This obscure comedy has many dry moments that are actually do for those long stretches. It is not a comedy of knee slapping wisecracks but a slice of life and a look into a time capsule going back to the turn of the 19th Century into the 20th. Squeaky voiced Ezra Stone and dizzy blonde Judith Barrett provide more of the comedy as Holden's sidekick and his girlfriend who investigates much of the chaos that gets into trouble. The tale is told through a narration by Glaser himself, showing how he went from a crusty and possessive old dad into a lovable old coot thanks to the power of young love. Holden and Granville seem a bit mismatched for much of the film, but somehow the narrative does it make you root for them. I can see why this film is pretty much forgotten as it is quite odd in its structure. You'll have to look sharp for young Alan Ladd obviously playing one of the college kids.