Here are all these youngsters jammed together, on the beach, in beer joints and motels—coeds from state universities, fellows from the Ivy League—flirting and making passes, with only one thing on their minds. That is xes spelled backwards. BOSLEY CROWTHER, January 20, 1961. New York Times review.
ollegiate Chase:’ Where the Boys Are’ Opens at Music Hall
By BOSLEY CROWTHER
Published: January 20, 1961
AS fast as they are with the wisecracks, the cute situations and the gags in Joe Pasternak’s new color picture, “Where the Boys Are,” you may wonder that this observer is not overwhelmed by the mirth. The reason for that is simple. There is not much to laugh at in this film.
There’s a funny scene toward the middle in which a bunch of college kids, boys and girls who have joined the mass migration for spring vacation to Florida’s Fort Lauderdale, plunge wildly into a glass tank full of water on a tropical night-club’s stage in pursuit of one of their buddies who has been attracted by an aquadancer’s lungs.
There’s good, broad, healthy young-folks humor in this one isolated scene, and it is significant that it drew the loudest laughter from the first audience yesterday morning at the Music Hall. But the rest of this wide-screen observation of the springtime mating habits of college kids in their long-ordained gathering place in Florida is a little bit shocking and sad.
It is a little bit shocking, in the first place, because the sex-hipped behavior it demonstrates is dished up as though it were the funniest and most natural sort of thing for college kids. Inspired by the novel of Glendon Swarthout, which one reviewer described as “a highly carbonated elixir of sex, sun-shine and beer,” it has been patterned into a movie by the glib script writer, George Wells, so that it looks and sounds like a chummy dramatization of the Kinsey reports.
Here are all these youngsters jammed together, on the beach, in beer joints and motels—coeds from state universities, fellows from the Ivy League—flirting and making passes, with only one thing on their minds. That is xes spelled backwards. But they’re not backward in making their interests known.
There’s the little Midwestern coed, played by pretty Dolores Hart, who wants an Ivy Leaguer and would like, at the same time, to remain comparatively pure. She finds what she wants in a Brown senior, played by George Hamilton, who just happens to be the honorable grandson of a local owner of a highly convenient yacht. But it is only by fate’s intervention that she remains comparatively pure.
Then there’s the long drink of water, the clown, who wants a guy with feet as big as hers. She’s played by Paula Prentiss, and she gets him in the form of another clown, played broadly by Jim Hutton. They’re too clumsy to make with much but words.
But a third coed, played by Yvette Mimieux, falls madly and recklessly in love with a fickle Yale man, Rory Harrity, and becomes a bit of a problem for her friends. She clearly surrenders, with marriage as her futile hope, and then goes daft—a disquieting condition—when she is ravished by another Yale cad. This makes for a decidedly lurid and suddenly sobering wind-up for the goings-on.
Withal and alas, there’s a curious lack of recognition of the real drama of these kids, assuming that they are reflections, however warped, of youngsters who are real. Their penchant for herding together, their yen for something termed “dialectic jazz” (which is thumped out a few times in a tempo that sounds like that of lots of other jazz), their way of conducting their courtships — these are clear intimations of insecurities that are passed over lightly in this film.
But the perceptive viewer can’t help but note them, along with lots of other glints of modern traits, including snobbery and status-seeking. And they make it all seem a little sad.
Also on the bill is an appropriately colorful and shallow travelogue of cities and scenery in this country, entitled “Down the Road.”
The stage show at the Music Hall is an elaborate musical spectacle, celebrating the centennial of the unification of Italy, called “Viva l’Italia.” In the company are Maria Luisa Zeri, soprano; the Guido Monaco Choir of Prato; Giuseppe Anneda, mandolin virtuoso and his ensemble; the Dandy Brothers, comedians, and the Corps de Ballet and Rockettes.