From March 2015 to April 2017, I was writing the monthly Teen Scene column for the website ClassicFlix. My objective was to promote classic films among teenagers and young adults. Due to the establishing of a new version of the website, it’s now more difficult to access to the old version and read the reviews. But, I’m allowed to publish my reviews on my blog 30 days after they had been published on ClassicFlix! So, I decided to do so as you could have an easy access to them. If you are not a teenager, it doesn’t matter! I’m sure you can enjoy them just the same! My twenty-fifth and, finally, last (!) review was for the 1960s classic Where the Boys Are directed by Henry Levin. Enjoy!
Where the Boys Are, the 1960’s film by Henry Levin, is the ultimate definition of the teen movie, not simply because the main characters are teenagers, but for the way the film is developed. Where the Boys Are is not Rebel Without a Cause, but it’s not Gidget either. It’s the right equilibrium presenting the fun of being a teenager (led by a bunch of colorful characters) and the more serious matters that come with growing up.
In this coming of age story, four girls from a Midwestern university, Merritt (Dolores Hart), Tuggle (Paula Prentiss), Melanie (Yvette Mimieux) and Angie (Connie Francis), are going to Fort Lauderdale, Florida for their spring vacation. They don’t only hope to find the sun that has been absent in the snowstorm of their university town, but also to meet some nice boys. In this sunny place various romances, adventures and misadventures arise to change the girls’ lives forever.
For someone who lives up north like the four girls in the movie, Where the Boys Are is the kind of film that makes one regret not following their lead and going south for a celebration under the sun. The weather can almost be felt through the screen, from the furious snowstorm that gives poor Merritt a cold, to the Floridian heat where the students spend their days in bathing suits.
During the opening credits, the film’s theme song is sung by Connie Francis. The style of the song perfectly reflects the ambiance of the film, as well as the ’60s in general. Francis’s voice is heard one more time when she sings Turn on the Sunshine in order to seduce Basil (Frank Gorshin), an eccentric jazz musician. With her smile and joie de vivre, Connie Francis illuminates the screen and proves her talents both as a singer and sympathetic actress.
Dolores Hart plays the lead. Among all her films, Where the Boys Are is often cited as a favorite among her fans. Her dynamism and assurance as Merritt certainly impresses the spectators. Hart seems sure of what she is doing and gives her character the perfect emotions depending on the situation. She makes people laugh or cry, but always at the right moment. The actress is today known as Mother Dolores Hart despite a promising start in the movie industry. She and George Hamilton as Ryder Smith are a dream couple.
Yvette Mimieux was only 19 when the film was made and embodies its innocence, and the loss of it. Her angelic face and lovely mannerisms make the audience rapidly fond of her.
Where the Boys Are was Paula Prentiss’s debut. The humor of this tall girl is delicious, but like the other actresses, she demonstrates a great sensibility. The loving and friendly team she makes with Jim Hutton, as TV, might be the one people appreciate the most. The comic and goofy guy certainly seems to be the perfect match for her and Jim Hutton is memorable in the role.
Kudos also have to be given to Frank Gorshin whom, as always, doesn’t fail to amuse with his mimics portraying a, well, unique character.
Where the Boys Are deals with the theme of sexuality, difficult particularity because during the Production Code era, such themes were put aside for censorship matters, creating a certain unreality in some movies. Although the code was still in force until 1966, the use of sexuality in movies was beginning to gradually emerge. Sexuality in Where the Boys Are isn’t used explicitly, but more as an educational tool that perfectly suits the coming of age story. The subject is treated as something that is inevitably part of life. Interestingly, the film was one of the first teen movies to deal with such material and the relationship teenagers have with it. The subject is mostly used in the dramatic parts of the film.
Despite the difficult subject matter, Where the Boys Are is filled with unforgettable hilarious moments, such as the scene where the whole gang is trapped in a giant aquarium, or each time TV makes an entrance with a peculiar rig-out.
One has to understand that, despite being a comedy and a Hollywood film, Where the Boys Are contains its share of realism. The film is developed in a way to show people that life contains its ups and down. But, even when living with difficult moments, the most important element is to be surrounded by loving people and Where the Boys Are proves the beautiful value of friendship.
The film is a visually agreeable one to watch as its Metrocolor cinematography creates an atmosphere of joy and reflects the fun that teenagers hope to reach during this sweet and short spring vacation.
On its release, Where the Boys Are was a financial success and won the Laurel Award for Best Comedy and Best Comedy Actress for Paula Prentiss.
Where the Boys Are is a film full of truth that’s ahead of its time, but is also intended to make one feel pleasant. It’s one of those films made especially for teens that understands them so well and is not to be missed.