Monday, March 5, 2012

The Male Animal

On the night of the big game against rival Michigan, the board of trustees at Midwestern University get wind that a professor will read a controversial writing by condemned anarchist Bartolomeo Vanzetti at his next class. With the loss of his job hanging over his head and the return of his wife's ex-flame for the big game, the professor goes into crisis mode while trying to maintain his moral integrity and keep his personal life in order. "The Male Animal" is a delightful comedy directed by Elliot Nugent from his stage play which he cowrote with Columbus native and fellow Ohioan James Thurber, made all the more enjoyable for Buckeye State natives as it is clearly set at Ohio State University. Penned for the screen by "Casablanca" penning sibilings Julius J. and Philip G. Epstein along with Stephen Morehouse Avery, is at once a hilarious comedy of errors and a sharp indictment of bullying. Henry Fonda sparkles in the lead role as the enervated professor who must stand up for wife Olivia de Havilland against the boisterous Jack Carson and for his job against the browbeating Eugene Pallette, all of whom are excellent in their respective roles. "The Male Animal" is the best kind of entertainment, one which provide laughs while simultaneously being a pointed treatise on a topical issue.