Local Boy Makes Good was based on the J.C. and Elliot Nugent stage farce The Poor Nut, which had starred Elliot Nugent on Broadway and Jack Mulhall in the 1928 film version. This time Joe E. Brown stars as John Miller, a meek-and-mild college botany student who worships beauty-contest winner Julia Winters (Dorothy Lee) from afar. He writes her love letter after love letter, bragging about his imaginary athletic accomplishments, but never has the nerve to mail any of the them. As a prank, John's college pals actually mail one of his billet-douxs, whereupon Julia shows up on campus, fully expecting our hero to compete in an upcoming track meet. Having never been on a sports field in his life, poor John sneaks into a track-team practice, hoping to pick up a few pointers. But it's star runner Wally Pierce (Eddie Nugent) who gets the point when John inadvertently spears him with a javelin. Fleeing for his life from the enraged Wally, John reveals that he's a natural-born sprinter, whereupon the coach (John Harrington) immediately signs him up for the team. Eventually, John realizes that his longtime sweetheart Marjorie Blake (Ruth Hall) is the girl for him, but there's still a race to be won -- and it is, when John accidentally downs a jolt of rubbing alcohol and ends up running around the track backwards! Local Boy Makes Good was directed by Mervyn LeRoy, who never ceased to be amazed by Joe E. Brown's real-life athletic prowess and the actor's willingness to risk serious personal injury for the sake of a good laugh.