Brother Rat is a 1938 American comedy drama film about cadets at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, directed by William Keighley, and starring president-to-be Ronald Reagan, Priscilla Lane, Eddie Albert (in his film debut), Jane Wyman, and Wayne Morris.
|Directed by||William Keighley|
|Produced by||Robert Lord|
Hal B. Wallis
|Written by||Richard Macaulay|
|Based on||Brother Rat|
by John Monks, Jr. and Fred Finklehoffe
|Starring||Ronald Reagan |
|Music by||Heinz Roemheld|
|Edited by||William Holmes|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
The film is an adaptation of the successful Broadway play of the same name written by two former VMI cadets, John Monks, Jr. and Fred Finklehoffe, which ran for 577 performances between December 1936 and April 1938. Albert and supporting actor William Tracy reprised their roles in the stage productions.
After the film's production, Reagan married Wyman in 1940. The title refers to the term used for cadets in their first year at the Institute. Scenes of the film were shot on site in Lexington on the Institute's historic Parade Ground, and the baseball game scene was filmed at Alumni Memorial Field.
At the Virginia Military Institute, roommates Billy Randolph (Wayne Morris), Dan Crawford (Ronald Reagan) and Bing Edwards (Eddie Albert) are three good-natured troublemakers who are trying to clean up their act in the weeks leading up to graduation. Still, try as they might, they cannot seem to stop breaking the rules. When the secretly married Edwards learns his wife (Jane Bryan) is pregnant, his preoccupation leads to events that really send everything out of order.
- Ronald Reagan as Dan Crawford
- Priscilla Lane as Joyce Winfree
- Eddie Albert as Bing Edwards
- Jane Wyman as Claire Adams
- Wayne Morris as Billy Randolph
- Johnnie Davis as A. Furman Towsend, Jr.
- Jane Bryan as Kate Rice
- Henry O'Neill as Colonel Ramm
- Gordon Oliver as Capt. 'Lacedrawers' Rogers
- Larry Williams as Harley Harrington
- William Tracy as Misto Bottome
- Jessie Busley as Mrs. Brooks
- Olin Howland as Slim
- Louise Beavers as Jenny
- Isabel Withers as Nurse
- Sam Komie as Cadet
- Billy Smith as Cadet
- Allan Cavan as Superintendent (uncredited)
- Jerry Cecil as Cadet (uncredited)
- Don DeFore as Baseball Catcher (uncredited)
- Jerry Fletcher as Cadet With a Sweet Briar Girl (uncredited)
- Mildred Gover as Colonel Ramm's Maid (uncredited)
- Fred Hamilton as Newsreel Scott (uncredited)
- Dutch Hendrian as Baseball Coach (uncredited)
- Howard Leeds as Cadet (uncredited)
- Wilfred Lucas as Ballfield Doctor (uncredited)
- Hugh McArthur as Cadet (uncredited)
- George O'Hanlon as Orderly (uncredited)
- William T. Orr as Member of the Guard (uncredited)
- Mark Roberts as Tripod Andrews (uncredited)
- Cliff Saum as Baseball Umpire (uncredited)
- Tom Seidel as Cadet (uncredited)
Frank S. Nugent of The New York Times called the film "an excellent transcription of the play, loyal to all its screenable material and matching the playwrights' lively humors in the added scenes." "None of the factors that made the play a success has been lost ... Albert gives a splendid performance," reported Variety. Film Daily wrote that Keighley gave the film "warm, sympathetic direction and has injected many human touches," and called Eddie Albert "a definite screen 'find'". Harrison's Reports declared it "A delightful comedy" with "excellent" performances. John Mosher of The New Yorker called it "a serviceable time-filler."
A sequel, Brother Rat and a Baby, with several of the same main actors, was released in 1940.
- Brother Rat, Playbill Vault, retrieved 9 January 2015.
- Helfer, Andrew (author), Steve Buccatello (artist), and Joe Station (artist). Ronald Reagan: A Graphic Biography. Hill and Wang. 23.
- The New York Times Film Reviews, Volume 2: 1932-1938. New York: The New York Times & Arno Press. 1970. p. 1544.
- "Film Reviews". Variety. New York: Variety, Inc. October 19, 1938. p. 12.
- "Reviews of the New Films". Film Daily. New York: Wid's Films and Film Folk, Inc.: 7 October 17, 1938.
- "Brother Rat". Harrison's Reports. New York: Harrison's Reports, Inc.: 70 October 22, 1938.
- Mosher, John (November 5, 1938). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker. New York: F-R Publishing Corp. p. 74.