Where the Boys Are
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|Where the Boys Are|
DVD cover by Reynold Brown
|Directed by||Henry Levin|
|Produced by||Joe Pasternak|
|Screenplay by||George Wells|
|Based on||Where the Boys Are (1960 novel)
by Glendon Swarthout
George E. Stoll
Neil Sedaka (music)
Howard Greenfield (lyrics)
|Cinematography||Robert J. Bronner|
|Edited by||Fredric Steinkamp|
|Box office||$3.5 million (US rentals)|
Where the Boys Are (1960) is an Metrocolor and CinemaScope American coming-of-age comedy film, written by George Wells based on the novel of the same name by Glendon Swarthout, about four Midwestern college co-eds who spend spring break in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The title song "Where the Boys Are" was sung by Connie Francis, who also co-starred in a supporting role. The film was aimed at the teen market, featuring sun, sand and romance. Released in the wintertime, it inspired thousands of additional American college students to head to Fort Lauderdale for their annual spring break.
Where the Boys Are was one of the first teen films to explore adolescent sexuality and the changing sexual morals and attitudes among American college youth. It won Laurel awards for Best Comedy of the Year and Best Comedy Actress (Paula Prentiss).
The main focus of Where the Boys Are is the "coming of age" of four girl students at a midwestern university during spring vacation. As the film opens, Merritt Andrews (Dolores Hart), the smart and assertive leader of the quartet, expresses the opinion in class that premarital sex might be something young women should experience. Her speech eventually inspires the insecure Melanie Tolman (Yvette Mimieux) to lose her virginity soon after the young women arrive in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Tuggle Carpenter (Paula Prentiss), on the other hand, seeks to be a "baby-making machine," lacking only the man to join her in marriage. Angie (Connie Francis) rounds out the group as an athletic girl who is clueless when it comes to romance.
The girls find their beliefs challenged throughout the film. Merritt, a freshman, meets the suave rich-boy Ivy Leaguer Ryder Smith (George Hamilton), a senior at Brown, and realizes she's not ready for sex. Melanie discovers that Franklin (Rory Harrity), a boy from Yale who she thought loved her was only using her for sex. Tuggle quickly fixes her attention on the goofy "TV" Thompson (Jim Hutton), a junior at Michigan State, but becomes disillusioned when he becomes enamored of the older woman Lola Fandango (Barbara Nichols), who works as a "mermaid" swimmer/dancer in a local bar. Angie stumbles into love with the eccentric jazz musician Basil (Frank Gorshin).
Merritt, Tuggle, and Angie's post-adolescent relationship angst quickly evaporates when they discover Melanie is in distress after going to meet Franklin at a motel and instead finding there another of the "Yalies", Dill, who rapes her. Franklin had moved on to another girl, but told Dill that Melanie was "easy" and set up the ambush. Melanie ends up walking into the nearby road looking distraught, her dress torn. Just as her friends arrive, she is hit by a car and ends up in the hospital.
Ultimately, it seems the group has learned the potentially serious consequences of their actions and resolve to act in a more responsible, mature manner. The film ends on a melancholy note, with Melanie recovering in the hospital while Merritt looks after her, and with Merritt's promises to Ryder to continue a long-distance relationship. He then offers to drive them back to their college.
- Dolores Hart as Merritt Andrews
- Paula Prentiss as Tuggle Carpenter
- Yvette Mimieux as Melanie Tolman
- Connie Francis as Angie
- George Hamilton as Ryder Smith
- Jim Hutton as TV Thompson
- Rory Harrity as Franklin
- Frank Gorshin as Basil
- Chill Wills as Police Captain
- Barbara Nichols as Lola Fandango
Joe Pasternak bought the film rights to the novel, which was originally known as Unholy Spring, even before it was published. He assigned George Wells to write the script.
"There isn't a gat, knife, or marijuana cigarette in the whole thing," said Pasternak. "These are good students. We'll use our young contract players, such as George Hamilton, Joe Cronin, Denny Miller, Alfredo Sadel, Bill Smith, Russ Tamblyn, Luana Patten, Maggie Pierce, Carmen Phillips, and Nancy Walters; then get one star to head the cast." Natalie Wood, who had just made All the Fine Young Cannibals for MGM, was mentioned as a possible star at one stage.
Henry Levin was signed to direct. The first two stars confirmed for the movie were George Hamilton and Yvette Mimieux. Paula Prentiss was cast despite never having made a movie before. Connie Francis also made her movie debut.
The novel contained a section where the students help raise money to ship arms to Fidel Castro for his revolution in Cuba. Pasternak decided to remove this. "The author was very sympathetic to Castro," said Pasternak. "Politics does not belong in entertainment. As actors or writers or movie makers of any sort, we have a right to our political preferences. But that is why we have secret ballots... We felt that the only revolution these youngsters should be involved in was their personal revolution."
Hamilton says he improvised the scene where he wrote a question mark in the sand to Dolores Hart. He thought he was making a "little nothing of a film" and did not enjoy the shoot but it became a big success. The film also featured the big screen debut, in an unaccredited role, by former Miss Ohio and Elvis Presley consort Kathy Gabriel. 
The kind of cool modern jazz (or west coast jazz) popularized by such acts as Dave Brubeck, Gerry Mulligan, and Chico Hamilton, then in the vanguard of the college music market, features in a number of scenes with Basil. Called "dialectic jazz" in the film, the original compositions were by Pete Rugolo.
MGM had bolstered the film's success potential by giving a large role to Connie Francis, the top American female recording star and a member of the MGM Records roster. Francis had solicited the services of Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield, who had written hit songs for her, to write original material for her to perform on the film's soundtrack including a "Where the Boys Are" title song. Sedaka and Greenfield wrote two potential title songs for the film, but producer Joe Pasternak passed over the song Francis and the songwriting duo preferred in favor of a lush '50s style movie theme. Francis recorded the song on October 18, 1960, in a New York City recording session with Stan Applebaum arranging and conducting.
Although it only peaked at # 4 in the US, the theme song of "Where the Boys are" became Connie Francis's signature tune, followed by several cover versions.
Besides the theme song, Francis sang another Sedaka-Greenfield composition: "Turn on the Sunshine", in the film.
The film was a success at the box office.
MGM signed Henry Levin, Dolores Hart, Prentiss and Hutton to long term contracts.
American humanities professor Camille Paglia has praised Where the Boys Are for its accurate depiction of courtship and sexuality, illustrating once-common wisdom that she contends has been obscured by second-wave feminism:
- The theatrics of public rage over date rape are [feminists'] way of restoring the old sexual rules that were shattered by my generation. Because nothing about the sexes has really changed. The comic film Where the Boys Are (1960), the ultimate expression of ‘50s man-chasing, still speaks directly to our time. It shows smart, lively women skillfully anticipating and fending off the dozens of strategies with which horny men try to get them into bed. The agonizing date rape subplot and climax are brilliantly done. The victim, Yvette Mimieux, makes mistake after mistake, obvious to the other girls. She allows herself to be lured away from her girlfriends and into isolation with boys whose character and intentions she misreads. Where the Boys Are tells the truth. It shows courtship as a dangerous game in which the signals are not verbal but subliminal.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
In 1960 it was announced Pasternak would make a follow up, Where the Girls Are starring George Hamilton. It was meant to be an entirely different story rather than a sequel. But this was never produced.
Pasternak also announced plans to reunite Hamilton, Prentiss, Hutton and Mimieux in a romantic comedy Only a Paper Moon from a story by George Bradshaw, "Image of a Starlet". This became A Ticklish Affair, and was made, but without any of those actors.
Nonetheless there were a number of unofficial follow-ups. MGM liked Paula Prentiss and Jim Hutton as a team so much they put them together in three more movies: Bachelor in Paradise, The Honeymoon Machine and The Horizontal Lieutenant. MGM also made a number of other romantic comedies in the style of Where the Boys Are, including Come Fly With Me and Follow the Boys.
Where the Boys Are '84, was released in 1984 by TriStar Pictures. While it bears the distinction of being the first film released by TriStar, the film was a critical and commercial failure. Although it was touted as a remake, Roger Ebert reported that "It isn't a sequel and isn't a remake and isn't, in fact, much of anything."
- Tom Lisanti, Hollywood Surf and Beach Movies: The First Wave, 1959–1969, McFarland 2005, p38-42
- Columbia to Join in Hawaiian Cycle: Carol Haney Going Dramatic: Nick Adams Agreeable Rebel Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 20 Oct 1959: A7.
- Looking at Hollywood: Joe Pasternak to Film College Vacation Tale Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 03 July 1959: a4.
- Looking at Hollywood: Natalie and Career Are in Good Shape Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 24 Dec 1959: a1.
- MGM, With 44 Films, Maps Plans Into 1960 Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 08 July 1959: C10.
- Who Made That?: SPRING BREAK Kennedy, Pagan. New York Times Magazine (Mar 24, 2013): 20.
- New Pictures Get Go-Ahead Signals: Karlson, Levin Will Direct for Widmark and Pasternak Scott, John L. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 18 May 1960: A11.
- Pasternak Signs Unknown as Star: Paula Prentiss Will Have Lead in 'Where Boys Are' Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 10 June 1960: A9.
- What's the Silliest Thing on Radio? Wolters, Larry. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 26 June 1960: n12.
- PASTERNAK BARS POLITICS IN FILM: Producer Cuts Part on Cuba in 'Where the Boys Are,' Based on Swarthout Book. By MURRAY SCHUMACHSpecial to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 04 Aug 1960: 16.
- Flynn's Son Making His Movie Debut Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 27 June 1960: 10.
- Jimmy Stewart Wants to Do Play in London Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 16 July 1960: n18.
- George Hamilton & William Stadiem, Don't Mind If I Do, Simon & Schuster 2008 p 143
- TCM Music
- Francis, Connie and others: Souvenirs, companion book to 4 CD retrospective "Souvenirs", Polydor (New York) 1995, Kat.-Nr. 314 533 382-2
- Roberts, Ron: Connie Francis Discography 1955–1973, revised editions 1979 and 1983
- MGM Reactivates 'Spring' Musical: It's 'Early' Lerner-Loewe; Paramount Takes New Play Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 13 Oct 1960: B17.
- Camille Paglia "It's A Jungle Out There," first published in 1991 in New York Newsday
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-05.
- Sinatra, Martin Planning Comedy: Janet Leigh Paged for Lead; Barrie Chase in 'State Fair' Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 02 Nov 1960: A9.
- Harrison, Portman Up for 'Sherlock': Stevens Directs Gail Russell; Production in Spurt at 20th Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 15 Nov 1960: B7.
- MOVIE PRODUCER CITES STAR POWER: Pasternak Has 2 Scripts Prepared for Doris Day -- 3 New Films Today By EUGENE ARCHER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 19 Oct 1960: 55.
- FOX ABANDONING 'CLEOPATRA' SET: Studio Will Film Spectacle in Hollywood or Rome -- Comedy-Fantasy Opens By EUGENE ARCHER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 16 Mar 1961: 44.
- Swift Comes Back for Loot, Not Art Smith, Cecil. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 29 Nov 1963: C32.
- Chicago Sun-Times Review:Where the Boys Are '84 By Roger Ebert, January 1, 1984.