Late Night: Pigskin Parade’s Footballers vs. the Commie Comic Foil
Spoiler alert: Plot points revealed!
Pigskin Parade (1936) features Judy Garland as the perky and talented sister of Amos Dodd, a hick kid illegitimately recruited to a Texas university in order to beat Yale in the season’s big game. There is a hitch, though. Dodd is a hillbilly melon farmer who has never gone to school (but he is a super talented harmonica player, music runs in that family!). Amos doesn’t have his admission credentials in place, so the clever members of football frat Delta Delta Pi come up with a solution:
One of the transferring DDP members, Herbert Terwilliger Van Dyke, has already declared his loathing of football, arguing that the sport is a capitalist plot designed by meat barons. (Van Dyke is played by Elisha Cook, Jr. who five years later would appear in a completely different role as Wilmer the gunsel in John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon.)
Though an obviously wealthy nerd, H. Terwilliger Van Dyke–as he calls himself–has actually done jail time (two months in jail in New Jersey!) by turning against his class and putting his beliefs into action. As H. Terwilliger Van Dyke tells his Texan frat brothers, while attending the (fictional) East Coast Bradley University, he:
crashed a brick through the window of a bank. The capitalistic faculty at Bradley expelled me.
As seen in the video above, the stalwart Texans set up Van Dyke by pretending to support his
vital message to the collegiate youth of the nation,
published in his manifesto, Youth vs Capitalism: A Militant Message to College Students so they use HTVD’s credentials to get Amos into school after the budding radical is arrested re-creating the New Jersey bank window crashing escapade while tossing around copies of his manifesto. Wow, the frat boys are outside agitators!
So let’s see, the football coach knowingly recruits an ineligible, illiterate talented football player while members of the team:
• encourage vandalism
• get a frat brother arrested
• perpetuate what today would be considered identity theft in order to enroll the ineligible and illiterate Amos Dodd (and his sister) in college so the team can win against Yale
• finagle funds to pay for the sibling’s tuition
• force a false identity on Amos’ sister Sairy Dodd (Judy Garland) in order to encourage Amos to participate in the ruse.
Wow. So Pigskin Parade basically is saying that it’s better to be an unethical college sports coach or simply malicious, deceitful and cruel than to be a Commie. God/s bless America!