Watch It

On DVD: Now | On Blu-ray: TBD

The Male Animal Details


In this screen version of the James Thurber-Elliot Nugent Broadway play of the same name, Henry Fonda stars as bespectacled, bookish college professor Tommy Turner, who puts his career on the line by insisting upon standing up for his right to free speech. Determining to read a letter written by executed anarchistic Bartolomeo Vanzetti to his classroom,Tommy not only risks dismissal and castigation by the conservative college trustees, but seriously jeopardizes his marriage to his wife Ellen (Olivia DeHavilland), who wishes that Tommy would stop making waves and start lobbying for a raise. Coinciding with all this is the arrival of former college football star Joe Ferguson (Jack Carson), who many years earlier had been Tommy's rival for Ellen's affections. Eminently successful and aggressively athletic, Joe seems to be everything that Tommy isn't, and the little professor is worried that he's going to lose Ellen to Joe after all. An all-night drinking session with equally idealistic student Michael Barnes (Herbert Anderson) convinces Tommy to stick to his principles no matter what the cost-and miracle of miracles, this resolve makes him a hero in everyone's eyes, including sweet Ellen. The Male Animal was remade in 1952 as , with the liberal ideology of the original film sacrificed in favor of McCarthy-era banalities. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Release date:April 4, 1942


Awarded by
National Board of Review Jack Carson Best Acting 1942 Winner


Henry Fonda
as Tommy Turner
Olivia de Havilland
as Ellen Turner
Joan Leslie
as Patricia Stanley
Jack Carson
as Joe Ferguson
Eugene Pallette
as Ed Keller
Ivan Simpson
as Dr. Damon
Don DeFore
as Wally Myers
Minna Phillips
as Blanche Damon
Regina Wallace
as Mrs. Myrtle Keller
Jean Ames
as Hot Garters Garner
Hattie McDaniel
as Cleota
William B. Davidson
as Alumnus
William Hopper
as Reporter
Charles Drake
as Student
Tod Andrews
as Student
Bobby Barnes
as Nutsy Miller
Hank Mann
as Reporter
Frank Mayo
as Coach Sprague
Spec O'Donnell
Glen Cavender
as Reporter
Ray Montgomery
as Student
Raymond Bailey
as Newsman
Don Phillips
as Student
Creighton Hale
as Reporter
George Meeker
as Newsman
Audrey Long
as Student
Jane Randolph
as Secretary
Cliff Saum
as Reporter
Joan Winfield
as Student
Walter Brooke
as Reporter
Howard Hickman
as Faculty Member
Audra Lindley
as Student
Dave Willock
as Student


Elliott Nugent
Hal B. Wallis
James Thurber
Play Author
Julius J. Epstein
Elliott Nugent
Play Author
Philip G. Epstein
Arthur Edeson
Heinz Roemheld
Composer (Music Score)
Wolfgang Reinhardt
Associate Producer