Carole Williams in Trouble Along the Way

In this classic movie, which is always regarded as a "comedy-drama", Sherry gets third billing behind John Wayne and Donna Reed. It was filmed during the first season of "Make Room for Daddy", and is Sherry's final cinematic role as a child. She caps off her child actress career with a role that really demonstrates both emotional range as well as comedic talent toe-to-toe with a couple of real pros.

Carole Wlliams is the focus of a domestic struggle between her father Steve (John Wayne) and her mother. His Ex-wife Anne (Marie Windsor) wants to make Steve's life miserable after he divorced her for cheating on him while he was busy coaching a college football game, so she complains to Alice the social worker (Donna Reed) that the upbringing her daughter is receiving is less than adequate. Anne has no real desire to raise Carole herself, she just wants to hurt Steve by fighting for custody; claiming that living over a pool hall and being exposed to Steve's alcohol-soaked unemployed has-been football coach lifestyle is bad for Carole. After meeting with Alice to hear the custody terms, Steve realizes he needs to get a real job to boost his respectability.

Hiring on as head coach of St. Anthony's, a bankrupt Catholic college that is betting their entire future on a successful football season, he soon realizes he has his hands full. Since the school is only banking on the gate receipts for their games, Steve figures out how to carve up the concessions, parking, souveniers, etc.. to provide a nice bankroll for recruiting the best freshmen that money can buy for his "cinderella" team. The good Father Burke pulls some strings with his church crowd to get a good schedule (i.e. Notre Dame, Villanova, Holy Cross, and the fictitional Santa Carla) for the upcoming season, and the stage is set for a big killing if they can only win a game or two.

Carole's mean old mom sues for visitation on the very day of the first big game with Santa Carla, but the highbrow kid's party she throws is a fiasco for the poor girl, who has not been taught by her father how to act around snobs. Alice sympathizes with her, and since she is starting to fall in love with "the Duke" anyway, she takes her to THE BIG GAME! St. Anthony plows Santa Carla, and the juggernaut is launched.

Unfortunately, Anne vindictively exposes Steve's recruiting tactics, and the whole balloon blows up, causing the good Father to resign, and Steve is fired in disgrace. At the custody hearing, Carole is made a ward of the state until the judge can appoint a new social worker that's not in love with her father.

BUT! Father Burke absolves Steve of all blame in his resignation address, announces that the Church has decided to keep the school open, and Steve will be kept on to coach the football team as it was in "the old days" when they were always running in the red. When Steve drops off Carole for Alice to take her to the juvenile center, they both drop some big hints, so we presume in the end that they will all live happily ever after together in poverty at St. Anthony's in their stadium apartment. Of course, Alice has a good government job, so maybe they'll buy a house!

The little family has just been woken up in their stadium-rafters apartment by the tolling of the giant bells. As the plaster falls down upon them, they wonder what have they gotten themselves into?

In the Holy Father's office to lobby for her dad,
Carole will be inspired with a love for books by the
jolly priest.

Asked if she'd ever read Longfellow, Carol replies that "Mr. Longfellow and Cleveland came up the same week, and, well...."

"The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere", or the Yankees versus Cleveland game... hmmm. Well, maybe I can help my dad if I let the old guy think I'm interested in this stuff.

I always wonder if anyone gets her joke when she tells the priest that the baseball game today is " a crucial" (i.e. Christ, crucifix, cross, crux: and saying that to a priest!). That one just cracks me up! In case anyone missed it, Father Burke even steals her joke later in the movie when he's describing the upcoming football game to his brother priests, and really makes their eyebrows arch!

Serving coffee to the coaching staff. That's Chuck Connors on the right. Sherry got to be the "old hand" in this movie, with higher billing than Chuck since she had already made about a dozen movies. This is only Chuck's third movie role, but in five years, Sherry (at sixteen) would be a guest star on his series, "the Rifleman"

The day of the big first game, Carole's mean old mom sues for visitation rights. Alice, the nasty social worker backs her up, claiming that there are more important things in a girl's life than football !! So, poor Carole has to don a pink dress for the first time in her life and go off and miss the game. Here in the pregame mass, she tells Steve that it's ok, there's always next week, but sadly, there will be no second game for St. Anthony's.

The girls watch Steve ride off in the team bus. Alice already has the hots for "the Duke", and he just told Carole to "stay out of trouble, and kick on third down" since Alice is "the law".

Mean old Anne with her scheming husband Harold. He asks her: "really, Anne, am I running a home for wayward girls? " She responds that " I'll smooth out the rough edges if it kills me. She has no manners at all ! " Harold speculates that "yes, but I'll bet she shoots a mean game of snooker ! "

Marie Windsor will turn up again in Sherry's movie career, and she isn't going to be any nicer to her !

The big welcome home party is a disaster for Carole. Her dad never taught her to dance, and her locker room manners are out of place in her mom's high society. When poor Sherry knocks over a trellis and runs away from the crowd, Alice realizes her mistake, and escapes with her to THE BIG GAME!

Her dance partner is Patrick Curtis, a former husband to Raquel Welch, and stepfather to Damon Welch Curtis, and Tahne Welch. He had over fifty movie roles, including the brave, sleepy little kid in "The High and the Mighty". As a baby of one year, he played the baby Beau Wilkes in "Gone With the Wind" !!

Carole makes sure Steve sees her in the stands. Maybe this nasty social worker isn't so bad after all. Chuck Connors tells Steve: "looks like the party was a big success! "
The debut game for St Anthony's was perhaps TOO much of a success: they swamp Santa Carla 28-0, and Anne alerts the good Father that his football coach has bent the rules a bit to put together such a powerful "freshman" team. He decides to go ahead and close the school, and he cancels the athletic schedule and resigns in disgrace for the rest of the term. Losing his job practically guarantees that Steve will lose Carole in the upcoming custody battle.

At the custody hearing, Alice responds under oath that she is in love with Steve, and the judge throws out the whole case; But not before Alice spills the beans on what a rat Carole's mom is for trying to take her away just to hurt Steve. The judge orders Alice to deliver Carole to Juvenile Center until they can rehear her custody suit, and since Steve is out of work again, it is moving day. He tells his daughter not to keep looking at him as George Washington, Babe Ruth and Florence Nightingale all rolled into one, and that maybe the judge will sort everything out. Sherry tells him "it's all right coach, you didn't make the world.." Could this possibly be Sherry's first "love scene" ?!?!

On the steps of the chapel, Steve delivers Carole
to Alice after the Father repents for asking him to
do the impossible, and then firing him for doing it
"in his own way". Alice says that the Father would
make a good character witness, and Steve says
"i'll need the whole choir". Then she tells him that
"I hope you find a good mother for Carole, "that's
all either of you need" . (hint, hint) As the girls
walk away, he tells her "you got nice legs, for a
copper! " , and Carole gives her the thumbs up as
a candidate for her new mother in their departing
scene. The Father then emerges from his
resignation address, and tells Steve that his
contract had an extension clause (in Latin), and
that he is going to be kept on for a year to coach
the team in its "old schedule" the way "it used to
be", i.e. without any money for recruiting any more
semi-pro "freshmen". So the movie ends up with a note of hope for Steve and Carole to be together
again soon with Alice added in to the family to be
the mommy.

This movie would be Sherry's last movie after she signed on to be Terry Williams in "Make Room for Daddy". During the series run, she would be released in '56 at fourteen to appear in "Come Next Spring", which was written by her stepfather, Montgomery Pittman. But with no other movie roles until "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" in 1960 at the age of eighteen, her movie career as a child actress was basically over.

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