Huddle (film)

Huddle is a 1932 American pre-Code film directed by Sam Wood and starring Ramon Novarro, Madge Evans, Ralph Graves and Una Merkel. This was the first of two films Ramon Novarro would make in 1932, and his first after appearing in the acclaimed, successful Mata Hari.

Directed bySam Wood
Written byFrancis Wallace
(based on the story by)
Walton Hall Smith
C. Gardner Sullivan
(dialogue continuity)
Robert Lee Johnson
Arthur S. Hyman
Crilly Butler
Elbridge Anderson
(technical detail)
StarringRamon Novarro
Madge Evans
Una Merkel
Ralph Graves
John Arledge
Kane Richmond
Martha Sleeper
Henry Armetta
CinematographyHarold Wenstrom
Edited byHugh Wynn
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • May 14, 1932 (1932-05-14)
Running time
103 min
CountryUnited States
Box office$809,000[1]


Tony Ametto, a young steel-worker with immigrant parents, gets a scholarship to Yale, where he becomes a football star and finds romance with a young heiress.


Director Sam Wood was known for directing college-themed films such as One Minute to Play (1926) and So This Is College (1929). The film showcases the popularity of the college film subgenre of culture-clash plot elements that were the focus of comedies like Hold 'Em Yale (1928) with Rod La Rocque, and the drama Redskin (1929) with Richard Dix.

The film was shot on a considerable budget of $514,000,[2] and included recreating Yale's Derby Day on the MGM backlot.[3] Shooting began on February 12, 1932, and lasted for nine weeks.

Real college students for the film were recruited as extras for $5-a-day; while presumably providing authentic atmosphere to the crowd scenes, they were also cheaper to hire than the average professional film extra in Los Angeles, whose pay was set at $7.50.[4] One of the extras in the film was a pre-fame Buster Crabbe, who appeared in a few scenes before being fired because of "inadvertent rudeness to the star (Novarro) during rehearsals."[5] All American football stars Merger Asplit, Gene Clark, Dale Van Sickel, Jess Hibbs, Ernie Pinkert and Manfred Vezie appeared in the film as well to lend authenticity to the football game plays.[6][7]

Lead actor Novarro had to learn football and soccer for his role (his character plays football in the American release, soccer in the international versions).[2] He considered himself miscast;[8] Robert Montgomery was originally considered for the role. Aged 33, and not a natural athlete, Novarro's casting as a hardscrabble college football star was a strange decision; when Greta Garbo heard of his new role, she reportedly said of their bosses at MGM, "Oh, they'll never learn."[2] Historian Mark A. Vieira credits Novarro's decision to accept the "dubious role" as payback to MGM chief executive Irving Thalberg for allowing him the autonomy to direct the foreign language versions of Call of the Flesh (1929).[9]


The film went into general release on May 14, 1932, on the west coast, and had its New York City premiere at the Capitol Theatre a month later on June 16. In general release, the film was a box office failure, with a loss of $28,000.[2] Critics almost universally described it as too long and agreed that Novarro was miscast.

Huddle has been broadcast on television occasionally and has played several times on the cable channel Turner Classic Movies. It was released on DVD through Warner Archive Collection on October 5, 2010.[10]

Box office

The film grossed a total (domestic and foreign) of $809,000: $476,000 from the US and Canada and $333,000 elsewhere resulting in a loss of $28,000.[1]


  1. The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. Soares, André. Beyond Paradise: The Life of Ramón Novarro (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2002) p. 574 ISBN 0-312-28231-1
  3. Sarasota Herald July 9. 1932 p 3. Web. April 25. 2014
  4. Segrave, Kerry. Extras of Early Hollywood: A History of the Crowd, 1913-1945. Jefferson: McFarland. p. 126 ISBN 978-0-7864-7330-4
  5. Vermilye, Jerry. Buster Crabbe: A Biofilmography Jefferson: McFarland p. 50 ISBN 978-0-7864-3605-7 Web. April 25. 2014
  6. Huddle is High Tension Drama. Prescott Evening Courier August 1. 1932 p 3. Web. April 25. 2014
  7. Sarasota Herald July 9. 1932 p 5. Web. April 25. 2014
  8. Ellenberger, Allan R. Ramon Novarro: A Biography of the Silent Film Idol, 1899-1968; With a Filmography. Jefferson: McFarland. pp. 115-116. ISBN 978-0-7864-4676-6 Web. April 25. 2014
  9. Viera, Mark A. Irving Thalberg: Boy Wonder to Producer Prince Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press p. 168 ISBN 978-0-520-26048-1 Web. April 25. 2014
  10. Warner Archive Huddle DVD Page
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