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Local Boy Makes Good

(1931 b 68')

En: 5 Ed: 5

Suggested by the Nugent play, a shy botanist student becomes a track star in order to win a girl-friend.

John Miller (Joe E. Brown) watches the prom from a tree but leaves to water his plants and look at clippings of Julia Winters winning beauty contests. A maid mails his letter to Julia. The student Marjorie Blake (Ruth Hall) comes to work in the bookstore and meets John working there. Marjorie brings John a letter from Julia, who expects to see him in the track meet. Marjorie advises John to try to fulfill his claims. He throws the javelin and almost spears a sprinter. He escapes by outrunning the sprinter. John reads of famous suicides.

The track coach is looking for him, but he hides in the bookstore basement. Julia Winters (Dorothy Lee) looks for John and tells Marjorie about her psychology course and libido, saying she got a romantic letter from John. Julia is engaged to track star Spike. She puts down John for writing lies, but he says the man he wants to be wrote to her. The track coach finds John and puts him on the team. John refuses. Julia says he has an inferiority complex and wants to psychoanalyze him. She asks him to tell her his sexual problems and calls him an emotional introvert. John says he dreams of noodle soup and promises to run. Julia sits on his cactus and leaves. John talks with Marjorie about Julia, and Spike Hoyt (Edward Woods) complains to Julia about John. Spike and John talk about spiking their competitors. Julia promises to be engaged if John wins and kisses him.

At the track meet Spike says go, and John runs the 440 alone. In the actual race John starts late and catches up; but afraid of being spiked by Spike, he stops, blocking his team-mates. John says he has a mental condition and gets a rub-down. Julia and Marjorie come in. Julia tells him he must run, and the coach gives him a pep talk, calling him yellow. Marjorie gives him alcohol with water and kisses him. John says he will run for Julia. Tipsy, John is booed by the fans. In the relay race he drops the baton; yet he passes Spike and wins. Julia asks Marjorie to help her break her engagement to John, because he is wild now. Julia hides from John. John tells Marjorie that Julia is too shy and asks to be engaged to Marjorie. He says his libido is turned outward now, and they kiss.

This comedy satirizes psychoanalysis by showing how tapping into the powerful resources of the unconscious can turn inward energies outward, transforming a shy scientist into a romantic athlete.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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