The latest offerings at the University are not going to win any Academy Awards, but they have this virtue--if you can somehow manage to avoid the newsreel, they will provide three hours of uninterrupted laughs that -- unlike Pearl Harbor, Singapore, et al--are not on you. "Design for Scandal" is in the familiar pattern of sophisticated dialogue comedy; "Rise and Shine" recalls the Joe College musicals of several years ago. Yet both move along briskly, boast a few new twists, and are unpretentiously slap-happy--a pleasant relief from war bulletins and the topheavy sagas of Bogart, Scott or Lynn vs. the entire Gestapo.
"Design for Scandal" is a tribute to Rosalind Russell's versatility as a comedienne. This time she plays the frigid woman-judge whose only weakness is a chronic allergy to roses, "a human law-book" with about as much passion as the statues she carves for a hobby. Eventually, Her Honor is thawed out by the persevering attentions of Walter Pidgeon, who performs the sequence of boy meeting, losing and regaining girl with a minimum of hamming and a maximum of savior faire.
Edward Arnold, as a scatterbrained business-executive, does his usual polished job; and Jean Rogers, the other woman in Pidgeon's life, has more oomph for our money than most of the higher paid oomph-girls. For the denouncement, tobacco-chewing Guy Kibbee renders a juicy bit-part as presiding judge of a nonsensical court-scene, in which Pidgeon gets Miss Russell on the stand and proposes to her in the ritual of jurisprudence.
"Rise and Shine" makes you feel like doing just that. Simply making faces, Jack Oakie is sufficient for a full ninety minutes of bellylaughs. As a sleep-loving Boley Bolenkawicz, the Clayton College gridiron menace, Jack also sings, muddles over calculus and puffed rice, and runs the longest touchdown on record--several hundred yards in either direction against Notre Dame.
The pulchritude of Linda Darnell and dancing of George Murphy are present for decorative purposes, though both are outshone by Walter Brennan portraying an octogenarian with libido trouble. And for the role of Seabiscuit, a gambler's comic stooge, Milton Berle has developed an appropriate whinny, to which the Robin and Rainger tunes contrast favorably.