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Warner Home Video presents
Where the Boys Are (1960)

"In the final analysis, everything comes down to sex."
- TV (Jim Hutton)

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: January 04, 2004

Stars: Dolores Hart, George Hamilton, Yvette Mimieux, Jim Hutton, Barbara Nichols, Paula Prentiss, Frank Gorshin, Connie Francis
Director: Henry Levin

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:39m:06s
Release Date: January 06, 2004
UPC: 012569586024
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ BB-B C+

DVD Review

Spring break wasn't invented by an MTV marketing guru, and Girls Gone Wild isn't sui generis. Back in the days when Ike was in the White House and nice people didn't talk about sex, it all boiled down to one question: "Are you a good girl?" Welcome to Where the Boys Are, perhaps the founding document for years' worth of jiggly material, about college students on the annual bacchanal in Fort Lauderdale. This isn't even a very good movie, really, but it's kind of an extraordinary document about sexual mores and how they were discussed (or not discussed) publicly in the waning years of the Hays Code.

Who wants to know where the boys are? Why, the girls do, silly, the ones at Penmore U., suffering through a midwinter blizzard somewhere in the Midwest. (Or, if you prefer, through a storm of Idaho flakes on an MGM backlot.) There's Merritt (Dolores Hart), who thinks about hanging back because she's got a nasty cold and a sagging GPA; Tuggle (Paula Prentiss), topping out at close to 6', looking for a man with big feet—and we all know what that means (big hands); Melanie (Yvette Mimieux), who's just got to meet an Ivy Leaguer; and Angie (Connie Francis), concerned that playing hockey is keeping her from meeting her dream man. Road trip!

You'll never find a movie with more euphemisms for sex—"He just keeps knocking at the door. It's just a question of how long I can keep it locked!" Though my favorite is the girls discussing whether or not to become "emotionally involved" on the first date. Not all of them are quite as cagey—as Merritt puts it, should a girl or should she not "play house before marriage"? This is pretty tame stuff to what's on network TV every night, but it had to have seemed mighty racy during the repressed 1950s. The girls make it Fort Lauderdale, that den of iniquity, and of course each one of them meets a boy: will Tuggle get TV (Jim Hutton) to pop the question? Will Merritt wangle a commitment out of dreamy Ryder (George Hamilton), with or without his yacht? Will Angie keep the attention of Basil (riddle me this, Frank Gorshin, in Coke bottle glasses), not a college boy, but a jazz musician? And will Melanie be able to shake her newly won reputation as an Ivy League tramp? Keeping the girls and the plotlines straight is difficult; keeping them straight isn't the point. The movie works best as a group portrait, and it's a pretty vivid one, of coeds trying to rack up credits for their M.R.S. degrees, and boys trying to get lucky without having to give up a ring. (Of course this is all pretty tame compared to what was going on in American fiction—the movie is based on a book of the same name, but both pale in frankness even to something like Mary McCarthy's The Group, from a previous generation.) The talk about what they want is pretty frank—as Tuggle says, trying to wangle a commitment out of TV, a boy that she's known for three days: "That's my ambition: to be a walking, talking baby factory." And the guys are extra smooth, Hamilton especially—who wouldn't fall for a deeply tanned man sidling up to you and asking, "How about a cocktail"?

The virgin/whore dynamic gets played out pretty clearly with TV, as his attentions toward Tuggle are distracted by the buxom Lola Fandango, Sea Nymph of the Tropical Isle—she's about the raciest thing for a '50s college boy: a divorcée who's interested. Her nightclub act, swimming around Esther Williams-style, must be the closest the '50s could come to a wet t-shirt contest. (Lola is played by archetypical brassy blonde Barbara Nichols, a particular favorite of mine, as she's the cigarette girl of easy virtue in Sweet Smell of Success.) The roughest journey is certainly Melanie's—she pursues her Yalie with the ardor of Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, and becomes sort of the spring break Blanche Du Bois, stumbling around the streets of Lauderdale, nearly killed and then hospitalized, after at least one of the New Haven boys has their way with her. (Yvette Mimieux may not have been the Meryl Streep of her time, but she was a cute little thing, that's for sure.) For a movie and characters that think about little other than sex, it's a little jarring that Melanie's deflowering is treated as Armageddon. But yet another chorus of Connie Francis singing the syrupy title song salves all wounds.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: It's a big gorgeous saturated Technicolor transfer, but it's not without its problems—the movie opens with a helicopter shot of the Fort Lauderdale beach, and you can immediately see glitches in the print. Some cleanup work would have been welcome, but the film looks pretty fair, considering when it was made.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: There are some sync problems on the soundtrack, which otherwise sounds pretty clean—if, after watching this movie, you don't have Connie Francis's voice rattling around your head for days hitting the high notes, you're one up on me.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Paula Prentiss
Packaging: Snapper
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: In her commentary track, Paula Prentiss expresses her fondness for this, her first movie—she was just out of Northwestern, and never made it to spring break as a college student, but did on the studio's dime. She's very Old Hollywood—everyone is a darling, divine, funny, a dream to work with—which means that she's sweet as can be, but doesn't really have a whole lot to say. She does provide a couple of terrific biographical details, though—Dolores Hart left Hollywood, and Prentiss recently visited her in her new profession: Hart is now a mother superior at a convent. And if Jim Hutton bears a striking resemblance to a contemporary actor, it's no coincidence, as he's the father of Timothy—Jim and Prentiss were probably the two tallest contract players, and were cast opposite one another with some frequency. Prentiss is clearly enjoying herself watching the movie again, and she repeats herself more than once; basically, her commentary track boils down to her saying, "It was a cool movie, wasn't it?"

Where the Boys Were: A Retrospective (07m:51s) features new interview footage with Prentiss and Connie Francis, who talks about getting her New York pals Howie Greenfield and Neil Sedaka to write the title song, and Francis is nostalgic about her film debut: "Our lives were so much more innocent and simpler." Fort Lauderdale: Scenes of World Premiere (01m:11s) offers some old newsreel footage, including the mayor of the city meeting the stars on the airport tarmac. Party on.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

Kitschy old-style collegiate fun—if Mom and Dad (or Grandma and Grandpa) suggest that in their day, the young 'uns didn't talk so much about sex, remind them about Where the Boys Are.

 


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