Saturday, September 10, 2011

College Coach (1933) - Film Locations

College Coach (1933)

What is college football without a few scandals? It seems like every football season a few more scandals pop up. Just this year eight players for the University of Miami are in trouble for accepting illegal gifts. But this is nothing new. Illegal gifts, phony entrance exams, dirty money and other illegal affairs have long been a part of college sports and this was even the premise for the 1933 film, College Coach.

In College Coach, Pat O'Brien plays the title character, a shady coach willing to do anything to win, even if it means buying players for his team and getting them into classes they can pass. This is a far stretch from the real life coach, Knute Rockne, that O'Brien would play a few years later. As coach Gore, O'Brien is hired by Calvert University,  a school looking to turn their football team into a winning team in order to attract more money for their school. 

The film doesn't mention where the story takes place, but the film was made in and around Los Angeles. Here are a few of the filming locations from College Coach.

For the fictional Calvert University, filming was done at Millspaugh Hall which was once located at 855 N. Vermont Ave. Millspaugh Hall was built in 1914 and was the main administration building for the University of California, Southern Branch which would eventually come to be known as University of California, Los Angeles or UCLA. By 1929, UCLA moved to their new campus in Westwood. Millspaugh Hall has since been demolished.

Calvert University as seen in College Coach (1933)

Millspaugh Hall, 855 N. Vermont Ave
Photo Credit: Los Angeles Public Library

855 N. Vermont Ave. Now the site of Los Angeles City College.

In one scene, after Pat O'Brien has accepted the job at Calvert University, he goes to meet his wife at the train station. O'Brien's wife, played by the attractive Ann Dvorak, is coming to join her husband in the new town where he will be coaching. The train station that was used in the film was the former Santa Fe Depot in South Pasadena. In the film we get a glimpse of the depot as well as the Graham and Mohr Opera House, another historic building that has since been demolished.

O'Brien standing across from the Graham and Mohr Opera House
El Centro Street, South Pasadena

The Graham and Mohr Opera House (demolished)
Photo Credit: South Pasadena Library

Santa Fe Depot on Left. Opera House on Right
El Centro Street, South Pasadena
Photo Credit: "South Pasadena" by Rick Thomas

El Centro Street, South Pasadena as it appears today.

In another scene we see the Calvert University football team arriving in town for a game. Signs welcome the arrival of the Calvert players. The street that we see the team driving down is Broadway and we get a glimpse of the historic United Artists movie palace on the left hand side. The United Artists theatre was built in 1927, just six years prior to the filming of College Coach.

Broadway, Los Angeles as seen in College Coach

933 S. Broadway, United Artists Theatre on left.

Revised December 12, 2013 - I previously posted that the football scenes were filmed at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, but thanks to a tip from silent locations expert John Bengtson, I've learned that the Rose Bowl in Pasadena was also used for the football scenes. In the screenshot below of fans entering the football stadium, that is the entrance to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The screenshots showing the inside of a football stadium are actually of the Rose Bowl stadium.

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as seen in College Coach.

Bing Bird's Eye view of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum entrance.

Calvert University plays at the Rose Bowl.

An inside look of the Rose Bowl from the January 1, 2013 Rose Bowl game. Source.

Lyle Talbot, Dick Powell race on to the field to see O'Brien.

Another view inside the Rose Bowl looking towards the gate that Talbot and Powell would have run out from. Undated image from the Los Angeles Public Library photo collection.

A closeup aerial view of the Rose Bowl's South East gate from 1930. The yellow rectangle marks the shrubbery seen along the wall which is also visible in the screenshot with O'Brien and his team.

Hugh Herbert, Ann Dvorak, Pat O'Brien

College Coach also stars Lyle Talbot, Dick Powell and Nat Pendleton as three of the football players for Calvert University. And if you watch closely, you get a glimpse of a very young John Wayne, as one of the Calvert students.

College Coach is available on home video through the Warner Archive Collection.

All screenshots (c) Warner Bros. Entertainment. Aerial Views: Hall Pictometry Bird's Eye, 2010 (c), 2010 Pictometry International Corp (c) 2011 Microsoft Corporation (c) and (c) 2010 NAVTEQ 


Christina R. said...

Fantastic post (though I am partial to anything discussing one of Ann Dvorak's films).

Millspaugh Hall is a Los Angeles location I was completely unfamiliar with, and the image you used is even from the photo collection I oversee! When I watched this film recently, I was wondering where that building was, so thanks for solving this mystery for me.


Robby Cress said...

Hi Christina,

Millspaugh Hall almost seems like a forgotten building, but I have seen it pop up a couple times in some early 30s films. Perhaps when UCLA moved to Westwood in 1929, the building made for a convenient film location. Thanks for stopping by and for the comment.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting! I reviewed this film a while ago because it was made by one of my favourite directors, William Wellman, but haven't found much information about it, so intrigued to see that you have tracked down so many of its locations, Robby. Great work. Judy


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