Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

A Yank at Eton


I have always liked Mickey Rooney. He was such a little ball of energy, you expected sparks to fly off of him. Here he is a high school football star who intends to go on to Notre Dame. But his mother in England marries a rich aristocrat, and sends for him and his little sister. The stepfather is a decent fellow, but Mickey hates him and everything English at first sight. He is enrolled at Eton, which he hates even more. And I’m with him, from my American viewpoint. I don’t know how much of this hazing and fagging and caning and virtual slavery still exists there, but at that time it was rampant and repugnant. Upperclassmen treated the younger students like scum, personal servants, subject to any whim. The worst of these is a very young Peter Lawford, who instantly loathes the American and comes down very hard on him. But of course Mickey undergoes a change of heart after making a terrible mistake of his own, and being treated to forgiveness by his stepfather. Thereafter he is a model student, top of his class, and even becomes a star at cricket and rugby! (Don’t believe that for a second. I have made half a dozen attempts to understand cricket, and I’m convinced that no American can ever figure it out!)

This was made in an effort to stretch some hands across the sea, pointing out the fellowship that can exist between yank and limey at a time when we all had to cooperate. Yanks were flooding into the country, and as the Brits said, they were “Overpaid, oversexed, and over here!” Mostly we got along, of course, though separated by a common language. Since there was a bit of a bother happening in the skies over Old Blighty at the time (the Battle of Britain, doncha know, old bean), the whole thing was filmed in California.