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Sorority House (1939)

Approved | | Drama, Romance | 5 May 1939 (USA)
Anne Shirley plays Alice Fisher-the daughter of a small grocer who at the last minute gets to go to little Talbot College. She learns that joining a sorority is an essential thing at the ... See full summary »


John Farrow


Dalton Trumbo (screen play), Mary Chase (from the story "Chi House" by) (as Mary Coyle Chase)


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Complete credited cast:
Anne Shirley ... Alice Fisher
James Ellison ... Bill Loomis
Barbara Read ... Dotty Spencer
Pamela Blake ... Merle Scott (as Adele Pearce)
J.M. Kerrigan ... Lew Fisher
Helen Wood ... Mme. President - Martha Lanigan
Doris Davenport ... Neva Simpson (as Doris Jordan)
June Storey ... Norma Hancock
Elisabeth Risdon ... Mrs. Scott
Margaret Armstrong ... Mrs. Pettingell Dawson
Selmer Jackson ... Mr. Grant
Chill Wills ... Mr. Johnson


Anne Shirley plays Alice Fisher-the daughter of a small grocer who at the last minute gets to go to little Talbot College. She learns that joining a sorority is an essential thing at the school. Unfortunately her late admission means that none of the sororities know about Alice and initially she is not even rushed. Fortunately her roommates have their own sorority problems and she soon falls in love with the BMOC. Written by Jeffrey Ewing

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

5 May 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Sorority House See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Featured in Red Hollywood (1996) See more »


from "String Quintet in E Major, Op.13 No.5"
Written by Luigi Boccherini
Played at the parents reception party
See more »

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User Reviews

Class Struggle Comes to Sorority Row
11 September 2009 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

Communist and later blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo gets a script assignment on sorority houses—the possibilities are intriguing and endless. After all, what better hothouse of class elitism is there than making sure your daughter or son meets just the right people and marries only within the proper social circles. Certainly, no Van der Bilt wants their offspring marrying a campus nobody, so why not manage their young lives through something like elitist clubs, otherwise known as sororities and fraternities. The topic seems perfect grist for an avowed enemy of class privilege, such as Trumbo is presumed to be.

But then the movie is a programmer, and the early Trumbo is a relative unknown, so conventional values do prevail. Nonetheless, dad Fisher delivers the main message at movie's end. Grief in the world, Dad observes, is caused by "cliques" banding together, whether sororities, clubs or nations, and then coming into conflict. And though Dad doesn't say so, cliques would presumably include the bogeyman of Marxist theory, economic class. Thus, as Trumbo's mouthpiece, Dad manages to come up with a social version of a classless society, which sounds more like choosing your own friends and not letting that go to your head than anything like common ownership of the means of production. It's also in keeping with the general spirit of the times, which exalts the virtues of the common man, especially salt-of- the-earth types like dad Fisher.

The movie itself is entertaining enough for a studio programmer, managing some gritty dramatics (the pushy aunt ruining Merle's pledge chances; the suicide attempt) and, of course, the expected sappy romance. But it's really Anne Shirley who shines and holds things together. Her friendliness comes across as so natural and unforced that you can't help but root for her. She's perfect as the unspoiled small town girl. Nonetheless, the movie remains very much a product of Hollywood and its time.

In passing—for a more revealing look at college sororities backed by of an A-budget, catch up with TCF's Take Care of My Little Girl (1952). In my little book, it's a real sleeper, despite the gloss.

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