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Keep Fit (1937)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

The editor of the County Echo newspaper decides to run a county Keep Fit contest, including a boxing match, in order to increase sales.

George Green works as a barber at a large department store, Regal Stores, with his friend Ernie, who is more interested in amateur dramatics than shop work. George is in love with Joan Allen, another employee in the barbershop, but she is more interested in athletic Hector Kent, who works in the sports department. Unknown to his colleagues, Kent has a hidden past as a convicted criminal.

George takes some gym kit samples to the local gymnasium where the Keep Fit contest is to be held. His boss, Mr. Barker, orders George to dress in the samples in order that publicity can be created for Regal Stores. Seeing him in the gym kit, Joan Allen thinks that George is participating in the contest and George is encouraged to take part. However, the contest is more difficult than he anticipates and George is humiliated. Hector Kent, however, excels. A County Echo photographer takes George's picture for a poster campaign. George assumes that it will be used as an image of fitness; however, the photographer intends to contrast George with the healthy Hector Kent on a "Before" and "After" poster.

The next day, two disreputable acquaintances of Hector Kent blackmail him into putting some bets on for them, meaning that Kent is forced to break a date with Joan. She agrees to go out with George instead, for a trip along the river. With Ernie's help, George borrows the official blazer of an exclusive boating club. In order to help George impress Joan further, Ernie suggests that he meets the couple and assume the fictitious role of a man George once saved from drowning.

On their date, George lacks skill in a boat, but impresses Joan with his singing. Ernie meets the couple on a bridge and puts his plan into action, but his flamboyant performance leads him to fall into the river. George eventually jumps in to save Ernie, but neither man can swim. Hector Kent, wandering nearby, is forced to rescue the pair. Joan is enraged when George and Ernie's deception is revealed.

At the Regal Stores staff dance, Joan notices a loose button on the cuff of Kent's jacket. When Kent's disreputable associates force him to leave the throng to rob the till in the sports department, he is unaware that the button falls off his jacket into the cash drawer. Returning to the party, Kent makes a pass at Joan; she is upset by his ungallant behaviour.

The next day, George takes Joan to see the poster that features his photograph. However, he is humiliated when he sees that he is depicted in an unflattering light. Hector Kent, seeing the poster, laughs at George. George stamps on his foot. Kent advances and steps on a broom; the handle hits him in the face. Onlookers presume that George punched Kent, and George is arrested.

Following this incident, the editor of the County Echo decides that the "Before" man should box with the "After" man as the climax of the Keep Fit contest; thus Kent challenges Green.

When the theft is discovered, George is presumed guilty and resigns. Joan finds the button that Kent dropped in the till and realises that he is the thief. She rushes to find George, on his way out of town. George agrees that he will go through with the boxing match with Kent and begins training. George has no talents as a boxer, but he finds that with a lock of Joan's hair as a lucky charm, he has the confidence to become a great fighter.

On the night of the boxing match, one of Kent's associates steals George's lucky charm. Without it, George is a hopeless boxer. Joan gives George another lock of her hair. With this new charm, and a kiss from Joan, George's confidence is restored and he defeats Kent. Triumphant, George and Joan are carried out of the ring by the jubilant spectators.