Harold Lamb is a dreamer, with college
glory on his mind. He has saved up enough money to go to Tate
College, and his ultimate hope is to become the most popular man on
campus. He is certain that he has found the formula:
emulation of the idol in the film "The College Hero." The BMOC
in the movie has a catch phrase—"I'm just a regular fellow—step
right up and call me Speedy!"—accompanied by a scissor-like jig.
Harold's father tells his wife, "If Harold does the jig at college
they'll break his heart of his neck." As Harold is on his
train trip to college, he meets Peggy ("the kind of girl your mother
must have been")—she is destined to be the girl of his dreams.
When Harold reaches the Tate campus ("a
large football stadium with a college attached"), some upperclassmen
decide to have some fun with the freshmen. Harold is invited
to take a car to the auditorium: the dean's car. He
finds himself back stage, attempting to save a kitty who has gotten
stuck atop the curtain: the upperclassmen throw open the
curtain, exposing Harold, on top of a plant stand, retrieving the
kitten. Harold places the kitty in his sweater and promptly
falls to the floor, causing the audience to roar with laughter.
Harold, somehow, musters up the courage (after hearing that he must
or risk severe unpopularity) to address the student body,
blurting out his rehearsed catch phrase to a delighted crowd.
The student body applauds Harold enthusiastically, and after
escaping the stage, Harold is greeted by some upperclassmen,
including most popular man Chet Trask.
To keep the high spirits moving, Harold
invites these VIPs to the ice cream parlor. The college cad
invites the entire student body to join them for ice cream, courtesy
of "Speedy": this overspending dictates a change in living
plans. He rents a small room in a boarding house: a
house owned by the mother of Peggy, the girl he met on the train.
Meanwhile, The Tate Tattler
reports on Harold's "dizzy dash to popularity," and both Peggy and
Harold cut out his picture. Harold pins his picture to the
wall, directly underneath the photo of Chet Trask, whose status as
most popular man Harold aspires to. Peggy tears away the
caption under Harold's picture, aware that the entire student body
is having a good laugh at Harold's expense, and silently suffering
Harold, undaunted, offers his services
to the Tate football team, confident that membership and success on
the squad will sew up his popularity. The team uses him for a
tackle dummy: the coach, however, admires Harold's spirit,
knowing he has no talent whatsoever for football, yet keeps him on
as water boy. Harold, though, thinks he has made the team,
through his aches and pains, and excitedly tells Peggy all about it.
To keep the dash to popularity going,
Harold makes plans to host this year's Fall Frolic, a black-tie
social to be held at the Hotel Tate. He worries that his suit
will not be ready on time, and on the evening of the Frolic, it is
only weakly basted. The tailor, who has been suffering from
dizzy spells (curable by a swig of whatever whiskey is available),
runs out of time to finish the suit, so decides to accompany Harold
to the dance, ready to mend broken bastes on the spot.
On the dance floor, Speedy is in demand:
with all the girls pawing over him, his suit eventually
disintegrates before the eyes of the Frolickers, and Harold must
hide in a phone booth. He does nab another suit, and makes his
way back to the dance floor, when he eyes the college cad making
unwanted advances toward Peggy, who is the coat check girl at the
hotel. When Harold punches the cad, the ruffian angrily levels
with Speedy: "Ever since you came to college, we've been
kidding you. Look—". Harold watches in horror as
students are alternately mocking his jig and his "regular fellow"
phrase in his temporary absence. At first he shrugs it off,
but the pressure builds in him, and Harold is reduced to tears on
Peggy's lap. She encourages him to "stop pretending, Harold—be
yourself!" Harold realizes, after all is said and done, that
if he could only get into the big game against Union State, he'd
On the day of the game, Speedy is an
enthusiastic bench warmer. Only after every substitute and
reserve is injured, does Harold enter the game—this after finding
out that he was only on the team as water boy, but dismissing this
fact as rubbish, and verbally chiding the coach until he was put in
the game. The next ten minutes are mayhem: Amazingly,
after each obstacle he faces is defeated, Harold wins the game at
the final whistle. At the same time, he has won self-respect,
the admiration of the college community, and the girl, who valued
the real Harold all along.