“The Freshman”- 1925


Movie Title: “The Freshman”

Release Date: September 20th 1925

Directors:  Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor

Main Cast: Harold Lloyd, Jobyna Ralston, and Brooks Benedict

Screenwriters: Sam Taylor, Ted Wilde, John Grey, Tim Whelan


This film was quite interesting to watch. The main plot is about a student who goes away to college, and wants to be the most popular among his peers. He achieves, at least he thinks he achieves this by partaking in a number of different things that bring attention to himself. I tried to look at this movie with a few different lenses, mainly trying to focus on gender theory, and American culture/ the American dream.

In a previous class of mine, we discussed gender theory throughout a number of different books from different time eras. None of the books we read were from the 1900s-1930s though. It was fascinating to watch this film from over 90 years ago, and compare the roles and expectation of gender over time. The time period this film was made in was before the civil right movement in the 60s, and before the large womens movement in the late 60s/ early 70s. This movie heavily reinforced stereotypical gender roles. The main character (a male college student) was portrayed in the beginning of the film as being very successful for his age. Having raised a significant amount of spending cash for his upcoming college years, as well as having a number of different things he was bringing to college that the average student didn’t have. Throughout the whole film, all the positions of power were played by men. There was only one female job throughout the whole film, who worked as a cleaner/ front desk receptionist in her family’s place (this is the girl who the main character later falls in love with). In a  lot of modern movies that come out now a day’, job distribution, as well as distribution of power is evenly split between males and females. Like Butler talks about in her article, there shouldn’t be a ‘gender norm’, in society, which this movie strongly contradicts. I feel like this is largely influenced by the time period it was made in. This also leads into my next lense focusing on American culture.

American culture is an extremely broad topic. There are so many complex components and parts. Something that this movie really made me think about was how culture changes over time. Not just relating to gender roles, race, sex, etc, like mentioned above, but in a number of other social aspects as well. American culture, which is directly related to the American dream, often includes success , or higher education. This film main setting is a college campus, and college life is a part of American culture. It was interesting to analyse the college life in the film to the environment here at SDSU; seeing how some things haven’t changed over the past 90 years, while some thing dramatically have. Just to mention a few similarities, football and sports are largely important, people want to be viewed as ‘popular’, and people care about success. Some major differences include the gender expectations- jobs and roles, the party atmosphere and environment, and the dating culture. Before watching this film, I knew things were different 90+ years ago, but I didn’t know what extent. And this video showed me that American culture can, and has been changing over time, and can be perceived differently by anyone, that is why it is so hard to define.

I must admit, I didn’t have very high expectations for this film before I started watching it. I chose it because I felt like I may be able to relate, and it was a comedy. It’s not as funny as modern comedies, but without words and dialogue, it still had me laughing at a number of parts. I would definitely recommend this movie to someone else.