Sunday, July 30, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Where the Boys Are (1960) - A Warner Archive Blu-ray Review

The Warner Archive has just released one of my favorite '60s films, WHERE THE BOYS ARE (1960), in a beautiful Blu-ray edition.

I first reviewed WHERE THE BOYS ARE almost exactly six years ago, and I've only grown to love it more since then.

Like another '60s favorite from MGM, VIVA LAS VEGAS (1964), WHERE THE BOYS ARE has a bright, cheery vibe, filled with appealing location shooting, colorful sets and clothes, attractive actors, and great music.

The movie is also an interesting look at cultural issues circa 1960. It explores important themes regarding self-respect and when in a relationship it's appropriate to "go all the way." The film also briefly tackles a disturbing sequence dealing with what we now would term date rape.

Four girls from a midwestern college head for spring break in Fort Lauderdale: Merritt (Dolores Hart), who's smart but inexplicably struggling academically; gangly Tuggle (Paula Prentiss), who happily admits she'd love to marry, drop out of school, and become a "walking, talking baby machine"; ebullient singer Angie (Connie Francis); and sensitive Melanie (Yvette Mimieux).

In short order Tuggle is romanced by the quirky TV (Jim Hutton), while Merritt falls for a millionaire senior from Brown (George Hamilton) and Angie spends time performing with a musician (Frank Gorshin). Melanie is first dated by Dill (John Brennan) but then falls for Franklin (Rory Harrity), unfortunately mistaking his interest in a short-term fling for love.

Aside from its serious moments, WHERE THE BOYS ARE is simply great fun, with its engaging cast in a nicely written story set against eye-catching backgrounds. I especially enjoy the direct, thoughtful Hart (who famously became a nun a few years later) and the bubbly, uncomplicated Prentiss; some of today's viewers will find Prentiss's character hopelessly "unliberated," but I find her enthusiastic desire to create a family charming. This was the first of five films Prentiss made with Jim Hutton, one of those magical teamings with a couple so well-matched it seems they must have been a couple offscreen, though that wasn't the case.

Francis is wonderful singing the splendid title tune, and another highlight features Barbara Nichols as an Esther Williams-style mermaid performing in a restaurant. There's a rib-tickling, well-staged comedy sequence in which the entire cast ends up in the pool with Nichols.

Bess Flowers is one of the patrons in the pool sequence. The film also features Chill Wills as a police captain and Percy Helton as a hotel manager. Having since seen Helton in WICKED WOMAN (1953), his role here takes on an unintended level of creepiness! The film also deploys what must have been hundreds of extras; the crowd scenes near the beach are really something.

WHERE THE BOYS ARE was directed by Henry Levin. It was filmed by Robert Bronner in widescreen Metrocolor. The film runs 99 well-paced minutes.

The Warner Archive Blu-ray carries over extras from its previous DVD releases, including a commentary by Paula Prentiss, a featurette, and a newsreel.

WHERE THE BOYS ARE may be set during spring break, but it's perfect summer entertainment...or at any other time of year. Recommended.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive Blu-rays may be ordered from the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.

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