|Trouble Along the Way|
|Directed by||Michael Curtiz|
|Produced by||Melville Shavelson|
|Written by||Robert Hardy Andrews (story)
Douglas Morrow (story)
James Edward Grant (uncredited)
|Music by||Max Steiner|
|Edited by||Owen Marks|
|Distributed by||Warner Brothers|
|Box office||$2.45 million (US)|
Trouble Along the Way is a 1953 film starring John Wayne and Donna Reed, with a supporting cast including Charles Coburn and Marie Windsor. The movie was directed by Michael Curtiz, director of Casablanca. The black-and-white comedy was released by Warner Bros. with an aspect ratio of 1.37:1.
Small, obscure St. Anthony's College, a Catholic university, is in financial straits and about to be closed. To save it, and himself from forced retirement, elderly rector Father Burke (Charles Coburn) hires a down and out former big time football coach, Steve Williams (John Wayne), in hopes of building a lucrative sports program. First turning down the job, Williams later accepts it when he learns that his former wife, Anne (Marie Windsor), now remarried, complained to Social Services that he is an unfit father, and plans to sue for custody of his 11-year-old daughter, Carole (Sherry Jackson). Anne's actual aim is not to get Carole, in whom she has no interest, but rather to pressure Steve into rekindling an affair with her.
Social Services worker Alice Singleton (Donna Reed), coldly prejudiced against Steve because she suffered from a relationship with her father similar to that between Steve and Carole, is preparing a report in Anne's favor. Steve, in the meanwhile, attempts to charm Alice and win her over. Desperate to have the football program pay off, Father Burke uses his clerical connections to schedule St. Anthony's against high profile Catholic colleges -- Villanova, Notre Dame, etc. -- in the upcoming season. Faced with physically inadequate players, Steve, unbeknownst to Father Burke, uses chicanery to enroll beefy star athletes as freshmen, giving St. Anthony's a winning team. Father Burke subsequently learns of Steve's dishonest methods and, after chiding him, disbands the sports program, knowing this would cause St. Anthony's to close. Alice submits a report unfavorable to Steve, but subsequently, in her testimony in the court custody hearing, repudiates it after having recognized her bias and the mother's lack of honest affection for Carole. Alice also speaks against Steve, stating he isn't a properly responsible parent, and under questioning reveals she is in love with him.
The judge halts proceedings, placing Carole in custody of the State, and assigning her a new case worker, until matters can be sorted out. In a surprise move, the church agrees to continue funding St. Anthony's without the football program. Even so, Burke resigns as rector believing that he had been behaving selfishly to unnecessarily prolong his position. Before leaving, though, he reinstates Steve as coach and forgives him his unscrupulous behavior as it was done out of love for his child. The film ends with Carole, accompanied by Alice, walking away from Steve, with the implication that Steve and Alice will wed and the three would be together as a family.
The New York Times gave it a favorable review, citing "spirited and contemporary" dialogue.