Sorority House (film)

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Sorority House
Directed by John Farrow
Produced by Robert Sisk
Screenplay by Dalton Trumbo
Based on the story "Chi House"
by Mary Coyle Chase
Starring Anne Shirley
James Ellison
Music by Roy Webb
Cinematography Nick Musuraca, A.S.C.
Edited by Harry Marker
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Release date
May 5, 1939 (1939-05-05)
Running time
64 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Sorority House is a 1939 American drama film starring Anne Shirley and James Ellison. The film was directed by John Farrow and based upon the Mary Coyle Chase play named Chi House.[1]


Alice Fisher (Anne Shirley) is the daughter of Lew Fisher (J. M. Kerrigan), a grocery store owner. She is surprised when he reveals he has college money for her. Alice rolls into a boarding house and becomes friends with room mates Dotty Spencer (Barbara Read) and Merle Scott (Pamela Blake). Dotty suggests Alice to join a sorority if she spikes up her looks and earns a few more bucks.

Meanwhile, Alice falls in love with Bill Loomis (James Ellison), who is dating Neva Simpson (Doris Davenport). He asks Alice out for a date and recommends her for a sorority, stating she is actually rich but pretends not to be. When Alice writes her father a letter she doesn't have the money for a sorority, he sells his store to a chain and receives the money.

Bill and Alice soon fall in love and kiss. This results in conflicts, since Bill is still in a relationship with Neva.[2]



Tim Holt was originally announced as male lead, intending to be reunited with Anne Shirley from Stella Dallas but this did not eventuate.[3]

Veronica Lake was cast in a small role, her first screen part. This was removed in the edit, but the experience encouraged Lake to pursue acting.[4]

Sorority House was a loose reworking of RKO's earlier Finishing School (1934). Scripted by Dalton Trumbo, who'd later get into hot water with the HUAC (The House Un-American Activities Committee) for another screenplay about a group of ladies living together, Tender Comrade (1943). This film was later used by the HUAC as evidence of Dalton Trumbo spreading communist propaganda. Trumbo was subsequently blacklisted.[5]


  1. ^ Richard Jewell & Vernon Harbin, The RKO Story. New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1982. p130
  2. ^ Movie Mirror Plot outline
  3. ^ Selznick Quests New Serious Lombard Idea Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 12 Dec 1938: 28.
  4. ^ VERONICA LAKE, FULL FACE By THEODORE STRAUSS. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 08 Nov 1942: X3.
  5. ^

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