Columbia’s Spirit of Stanford is built around the talents of a real-life college football star, in this instance all-American quarterback Frankie Albert. Albert’s arrogance gets him into all sorts of trouble before he gets his head on straight. Columbia contractee Marguerite Chapman is the love interest, while another Stanford gridiron great, Ernie Nevers, shows up in a cameo role.
Director: Charles Barton.
Writer: Milton S. Gelman.
Stars: Frankie Albert, Marguerite Chapman, Matt Willis, Shirley Patterson, Kay Harris, Robert Kellard, The Vagabonds, Ernie Nevers.
As a member of NAASH (North American Association of Sports History), a key interest for me has always been the union of sports history & the cinema. SPIRIT OF STANFORD has been one of the most difficult sports films to find, so I was grateful to Jon for posting this print. In truth, it is not a very good movie, blending musical moments, WWII propaganda, & football clips from bygone days. The film is strictly a whitewash of college athletics and school spirit with Albert playing the standard Hollywood trope of the big-headed sports star who learns to appreciate pride in both school spirit and collegiate sportsmanship. Albert playing himself was a handsome fellow but no real actor and the supporting cast, notably Matt Willis (who played Bela Lugosi’s werewolf slave a year later in THE RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE for the same studio), lacked any kind of screen presence. Only brief cameoes by Lloyd Bridges and Forrest Tucker add screen interest but not much depth to character. The script is filled with the flatest of plot devices and soocial cliches so the film carries very little emotional weight. A lot of film footage of Stanford football is a plus but it hardly makes the film worthy viewing for anyone who is not a sports historian.