Mar 8, 2015

The Collegians: Muscle and Gay Symbolism of the Silent Movie Era

The Silent Movie Blog has an interesting post on The Collegians, a series of silent movie shorts (1926-1929) directed by Wesley Ruggles, about buddy-competitors at Calford College, Ed Benson (George Lewis) and Don Trent (Eddie Philips).  They spend their time playing sports, stripping down in the shower, and finding excuses to grab and fondle each other, while generally ignoring girls.







In Flashing Oars (1927), for instance, Don Trent goes out drinking on the night before the big rowing race with rival Velmar College.  In order to sober him up, Ed and his friends grab him, strip him out of his clothes, and throw him in the shower.









Meanwhile, Doc (Churchill Ross), a nerdish bookworm, explains why he goes to all the games, even though he hates sports, and hangs out in the locker room afterwards.

Supple vertebrae, right.







The Relay (1926) is about a boys-vs-girls swimming match, with the boys ripping each others' clothes off and wrestling in a swimming pool.  Oh, and the girls swim too.

There is occasionally a hetero-romance, or a scene of boys mooning over girls at the Hula-Hula Hut, but merely as film conventions, secondary to the plots that require the boys to get as naked as possible, as often as possible.

About a third of the 44 films survive.  The Relay is available on Amazon.

See also: The Four Devils: Lost Beefcake of the Silent Era; and Buster Keaton