Brother Rat is a 1938 film about cadets at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, directed by William Keighley and starring Ronald Reagan, Priscilla Lane, Eddie Albert, Jane Wyman and Wayne Morris.
The film was an adaptation of the successful Broadway play of the same name written by two former VMI cadets, John Monks, Jr. and Fred Finklehoffe, which ran for 577 performances between December 1936 and April 1938. Albert and supporting actor William Tracy reprised their roles in the stage productions.
Brother Rat was Albert's film debut, and during filming Reagan met Wyman, whom he later married.
The title refers to the term used for cadets in their first year at the Institute. Scenes of the film were shot on site in Lexington on the Institute's historic Parade Ground, and the baseball game scene was filmed at Alumni Memorial Field.
Ronald Reagan - Dan Crawford
Priscilla Lane - Joyce Winfree
Eddie Albert - Bing Edwards
Jane Wyman - Claire Adams
Wayne Morris - Billy Randolph
Johnnie Davis - A. Furman Towsend, Jr.
Jane Bryan - Kate Rice
Henry O'Neill - Colonel Ramm
Gordon Oliver - Capt. 'Lacedrawers' Rogers
William Tracy - Misto Bottome
Jessie Busley - Mrs. Brooks
Olin Howland - Slim
Louise Beavers - Jenny
Isabel Withers - Nurse
Frank S. Nugent of The New York Times called the film "an excellent transcription of the play, loyal to all its screenable material and matching the playwrights' lively humors in the added scenes." "None of the factors that made the play a success has been lost ... Albert gives a splendid performance," reported Variety. Film Daily wrote that Keighley gave the film "warm, sympathetic direction and has injected many human touches," and called Eddie Albert "a definite screen 'find'". Harrison's Reports declared it "A delightful comedy" with "excellent" performances. John Mosher of The New Yorker called it "a serviceable time-filler."
At the Virginia Military Institute, roommates Billy Randolph (Wayne Morris), Dan Crawford (Ronald Reagan) and Bing Edwards (Eddie Albert) are three good-natured troublemakers who are trying to clean up their act in the weeks leading up to graduation. Still, try as they might, they cannot seem to stop breaking the rules. When the secretly married Edwards learns his wife (Jane Bryan) is pregnant, his preoccupation leads to events that really send everything out of order.