MGM's Navy Blue and Gold prettily dresses up some of the oldest cliches in the "military cadet" movie genre. The film charts the progress of three Annapolis "plebes," all played by actors in the age range of 24 to 30. Wisecracking Roger Ash (Robert Young) is a cynic, wide-eyed Richard Gates Jr. (Tom Brown) is overeager), and reclusive Truck Cross (James Stewart) harbors a dark secret. When not going about their appointed duties, Ash and Cross battle over the attentions of heroine Patricia (Florence Rice), Gates' sister. All the while, Captain Skinny Dawes (Lionel Barrymore), the traditional crusty old seafarin' man with a heart of gold, tries to instill the love of Honor, Duty and Country in all three heroes. The plot is resolved in a climactic football game, with everyone showing his true colors (blue and gold, of course!) Many of the plot devices and stereotypical characters in Navy Blue and Gold would continue to resurface in similar films for the next five decades -- even in the R-rated Officer and a Gentleman (1980).
by Hal Erickson synopsis