A WARM UP FOR SPRING BREAK

As winter comes to an end, I get antsy for warmer running weather. To put me in the mood, here is my intro from last April on TCM for the ultimate Spring Break movie, Where the Boys Are.

Despite its uneven mixture of slapstick comedy and melodrama and its heavy handed moralizing about the evils of premarital sex, Where the Boys Are is so handsomely produced and charmingly acted that it can’t help but be entertaining.  When the gals drop their guard and party hearty the film is it top drawer but when they get in that mindset to trap a husband the film falls flat.  As for the boys they are all portrayed as having only one thing on their mind—sex!

Where the Boys Are is probably one of the first movies to suggest that it is okay for young women to have sex before marriage.  This was very outlandishly daring for 1960.  However, to counteract this novel idea, good girl Merritt doesn’t practice what she preaches and the audience is hit over the head by Prentiss’ character who is out to land a husband while holding on to her virginity.  Yvette Mimieux is the easy girl out to reel in an Ivy Leaguer using her feminine wiles but of course she has to pay for her wanton ways.  Not only does she get raped, the poor thing gets hit by a car to boot.  Mimieux is just another popular starlet in a long line of late fifties/early sixties fair-haired good girls gone bad who had to suffer for going all the way.

The movie captures the craziness of Fort   Lauderdale wonderfully from the crowded beaches to the packed sidewalks and traffic-laden streets.  The on location photography elevates the film immensely.  However, the scenes with the principals on the sand were obviously filmed on the MGM back lot and none of the actors wade into the water on screen.  Some of writer George Wells hip dialog was square even back in 1961 but a number of his lines do retain their humor especially when delivered by deft comic actors Jim Hutton and Paula Prentiss.

The cast for the most part is first-rate and very attractive.  The fresh-faced Dolores Hart with her big expressionistic blue eyes makes a charming leading lady and is always one step ahead of George Hamilton who makes a super suave though wooden Ryder Smith who is out to seduce her.  Paula Prentiss proves to be a delightful comedienne in the vein of Rosalind Russell or Eve Arden and delivers some funny wisecracks as Tuggle though her determination to remain chaste wears thin.  She is matched every step of the way by the equally good Jim Hutton as her goofy love interest who is “queer for hats.”  Connie Francis is too pretty to be cast as the “unattractive one” but she is surprising humorous playing the role in a ditzy manner.  The only one who comes off maudlin is the beautiful Yvette Mimieux but to be fair she is saddled with the weakest role of the doomed ingenue.  Of course, as the “bad” girl she is the only one who sports two-piece swimsuits.  Hamilton bares his chest briefly while Hutton remains covered up leaving those cads Rory Harrity and John Brennan to spice up the film in the beefcake department.

The title song, belted out by Connie Francis at the beginning at end of the movie, is one of the most memorable songs of sixties Hollywood as it totally captures the essence of the movie.  Suffice it to say the fact that the snooty music branch of the Academy failed to nominate it for Best Song is not surprising considering some of their other misguided nominations from the past.  Composer George Stoll also incorporates the haunting melody into his musical score.  Pete Rugolo contributes some cool dialectic jazz pieces to heighten the mood.

All in all Where the Boys Are is a good introduction to the Frankie and Annette beach party movies that were yet to come.

 

 

Comments: 4

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  • Michael H

    You said it well. In spite of its dated outlook on premarital sex, the movie is still entertaining and the cast took it up several notches. My one issue has to do with the way MGM misused the gifted Paula Prentiss after her sparkling debut in this film. She should have enjoyed a much bigger career in my opinion.

     
     
     
    • Yes, I agree. They paired her with Jim Hutton too many times in sub-par comedies. I loved her years later in The Stepford Wives.

       
  • Michael H

    Interesting to compare this week’s release of “Spring Breakers” with James Franco to this film. Really shows how drastically things have changed in 50 years. Also noticed two of his co-stars are former teen idols from the Disney Channel. Annette would have never touched a film like this in fear of offending Uncle Walt. Just based on a few reviews I’ve read. SB makes Where The Boys Are sound like an ancient relic from another planet.

     
     
     
    • I agree. Can you imagine Disney girls Hayley Mills and Deborah Walley in this with Tommy Kirk in the James Franco role? LOL

       
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