Because They're Young

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Because They're Young
Because They're Young.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPaul Wendkos
Written byJames Gunn
Based onHarrison High
by John Farris
Produced byJerry Bresler
StarringDick Clark
CinematographyWilfred M. Cline
Edited byChester W. Schaeffer
Music byJohn Williams
Jerry Bresler Productions
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • April 1960 (1960-04)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited States

Because They're Young is a 1960 American drama film directed by Paul Wendkos and starring Dick Clark as Neil Hendry, an American high-school teacher who tries to make a difference in the lives of his students. The film co-stars Tuesday Weld, Michael Callan, Warren Berlinger, Roberta Shore, Doug McClure and Victoria Shaw. The screenplay was based on Harrison High, a 1959 novel by John Farris.

Musicians Duane Eddy and James Darren appear in cameo roles, and the film's title song became the biggest hit record of Eddy's career. Bobby Rydell's "Swingin' School" is featured prominently in the film's soundtrack, though Rydell does not appear in the film.


A crusading high school teacher tries to help his troubled students.



Original novel[edit]

The novel Harrison High was published in 1959 when its author John Farris was 22.[1] He wrote it at the age of 20 while a student at the University of Missouri, and it was based on his high-school experiences in Memphis, though Harrison High is fictional.[2]

The New York Times likened the book to "an interminable adolescent bull session."[3]


Film rights were bought by the Drexel Film Corporation in April 1959, and Drexel arranged to make the film through Columbia. Dick Clark, host of American Bandstand, signed to play the lead.[4]

Jerry Bresler, who had a multi-picture deal with Columbia, was assigned to produce and he hired James Gunn to write a script.[5] Paul Wendkos signed to direct in June.[6]

"Most pictures about teenagers are wrong," said Clark, "They are older people's concepts of how teenagers act... I doubt if there ever can be a truly honest portrayal in films. Not all girls are beautiful and all boys handsome, as they are in films... [But] the script is fairly true to life. Most teenagers are normal."[7]

The cast included several young actors under contract to Columbia, including Michael Callan. Warren Berlinger, who played Buddy McCalla, had just recently appeared in Blue Denim.


Filming started on August 12, 1959.[8] The campus and classroom scenes were shot at Hoover High School in Glendale, California.

Clark later wrote in his memoirs that making the film was "an extraordinary experience. Columbia really laid it on; they rented a house in Bel-Air owned by Mercedes McCambridge, provided a maid, a butler and a chauffeur, and gave me a hundred dollars a day in expenses."[9]


The Los Angeles Times called the film "an agreeable surprise."[10]

The film did not make Variety's list of top earners for 1960.[11]


  1. ^ Sullivan, R. (Mar 15, 1959). "Grubby paths thru sensation". Chicago Daily Tribune. ProQuest 182240341.
  2. ^ L. N. (Apr 19, 1959). "IN AND OUT OF BOOKS". New York Times. ProQuest 114637430.
  3. ^ Levin, M. (Apr 26, 1959). "Dating and mating". New York Times. ProQuest 114908869.
  4. ^ "Dick clark to make film debut; cannes festival entries listed". New York Times. Apr 29, 1959. ProQuest 114902515.
  5. ^ Scheuer, P. K. (May 28, 1959). "Yvette ideal girl of distant future". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 167436473.
  6. ^ "FILMLAND EVENTS: Wendkos to Direct 'Harrison High'". Los Angeles Times. June 5, 1959. p. A9.
  7. ^ Thomas, B. (Oct 18, 1959). "Potentate of the clark cult". Chicago Daily Tribune. ProQuest 182392767.
  8. ^ "Entertainment Films Stage Music: 'Blue Denim' Pair Cast at Columbia". Los Angeles Times. Aug 12, 1959. p. C7.
  9. ^ Clark, Dick (1976). Rock, roll & remember. Crowell. p. 249.
  10. ^ Scheuer, Philip K. (Mar 13, 1960). "Film Ponders Ways of Youth: 'They're Young' Forms an Agreeable Surprise". Los Angeles Times. p. I1.
  11. ^ "Rental Potentials of 1960". Variety. 4 January 1961. p. 47.

External links[edit]