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Where the Boys Are

There's nothing like getting a heapin' helpin' of outdated moral object lessons with your fluffy comedy. Where the Boys Are (1960) is less a zany beach-romp than a cautionary tale about the dangers of sex — with the disastrous consequences befalling girls who stray from the straight-and-narrow reflecting a long-held Hollywood stance on gender relations that would soon go the way of the woolly mammoth. Suffering through a snowy midwestern winter, four college girls decide to make a break for it and head to Fort Lauderdale for spring break. Dolores Hart is Merritt, the progressive thinker, challenging her sex-ed professor about women's right to enjoy intimacy before marriage — but she still puts off rich suitor George Hamilton because, after all, she's the nice one. Tuggle (Paula Prentiss) just wants to meet a guy taller than she is, and she does — wacky Jim Hutton, who's disappointed to discover that this wisecracking broad won't go all the way ("Are you a good girl, Tuggle?" he asks, and then expresses disappointment when she answers in the affirmative). Pop phenom Connie Francis made her film debut as Angie, presented rather illogically as the ugly duckling of the group ("I knew I should never have played field hockey!" is her explanation for her lack of sex appeal) but even she finds love, with a freakish jazz musician who wears Coke-bottle glasses (Frank Gorshin). It's left to Yvette Mimieux, fresh off The Time Machine, to play Melanie, the Girl Who Goes Astray. Thinking that this is her big chance to snag an Ivy League husband, Melanie sleeps with the first Yalie who takes her out — then allows herself to be handed off to one of his frat brothers and, finally, has a full-scale breakdown in a sleazy motel then tries to get herself run over on the highway. Lesson? Nice girls get love while slutty girls end up as raving, disheveled roadkill. Yes, Where the Boys Are is one hell of a lot of campy, stupid fun. Warner's DVD offers a clean and colorful anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with excellent monaural Dolby Digital 2.0 audio in English or French (English, Spanish, French subtitles available). A commentary track by Paula Prentiss is entertaining, with the actress discussing her early career and commenting acerbically on the film's portrayal of women. Where the Boys Were: A Retrospective features both Prentiss and Connie Francis discussing the making of the movie — including Francis' revelations about how she was pressured into doing the picture. Also on board is newsreel footage of the film's premiere and the original theatrical trailer. Snap-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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