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Trouble Along the Way (1953)

troubleJohn Wayne takes a break from westerns to bring us “Trouble Along the Way,” the story of a man named Steve Williams who used to be a football coach but got thrown out of the game. He is a single parent, father to an eleven-year-old girl named Carol (Sherry Jackson). They have a close, if unconventional relationship – she makes him coffee and orange juice every morning to chase off the hangovers he gets the night before.

When Steve’s ex-wife Anne decides to make his life miserable again, she knows just how to do it – she sends the state in to investigate his parenting skills. The state sends Alice Singleton (Donna Reed) an uptight young woman who has iron-clad ideas about what a family should be. She doesn’t approve of Steve, his lack of work, or his pool hustling ways, and she recommends that he be forced to give Anne some visitation rights.

Meanwhile, Steve has just a short amount of time to prove himself respectable. When he’s approached by Father Burke, rector at St. Anthony’s College, to take over the suffering football team, he realizes this is his chance to prove he’s not worthless. He and Carol move to the college and discover that their room is in the tower of the church, right under the bells. It’s not ideal, but Steve is willing to do whatever it takes to keep Carol.

He’s so determined, in fact, that he brings in some players from other schools. St. Anthony’s is surprised when several new freshmen register for the next semester and all try out for the football team, but Steve’s got a game to win and a daughter to keep.

When Carol goes to see her mother, she is treated like an unwanted knickknack, and she’s absolutely miserable. Alice helps her make a mistake, and they head down to the football field, where even Alice can see Carol belongs, but she’s too worried about making a mistake and recommends that Carol not be left in the care of her father.

This movie had some great comedic moments in it, mostly provided by Father Burke. Wayne did a good job in this role, but the person who really made the film, in my opinion, was the young actress who played Carol. She stole every scene she was in.

This film was not rated.

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