Where the Boys Are | 1960

99 min. | color | 20th Century Fox | released: december 28, 1960

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Dolores Hart plays Merritt Andrews, a freshman college student whose outspoken, liberal views on sex and dating nearly get her thrown out of Kenmore University by the old-fashioned dean. Merritt and her four friends; Melanie (Yvette Mimieux, the pretty, but naive one), Tuggle (Paula Prentiss, the funny one), and Angie (Connie Francis, the ugly one— tomboyish one— too ethnic one— honestly I didn’t actually understand why the men in this film were so turned off by her) head to Fort Lauderdale over spring break to blow off some steam.

Along the way they pick up TV Thompson (Jim Hutton) who’s hitchhiking with a sign around his neck reading “Fort Lauderdale or I’ll Kill Myself.” TV and Tuggle hit it off immediately and provide the most dynamic relationship in the movie. Prentiss and Hutton had such chemistry on the screen, they made several movies together afterward. Tuggle’s insistence on remaining a “good girl” before she’s married frustrates TV to the point that he gets drunk and dives into a restaurant’s water tank to grope Lola (Barbara Nichols), a sea nymph of the tropical isles.

Merritt meets Ryder Smith (George Hamilton), a Brown University senior who’s personality is derived mostly from his family’s intense wealth. He proves to be a master of showing Merritt how rich he is, while pretending it’s all so banal. It’s really the least interesting part of the plot however.

Angie, who has such a difficult time hooking a man, ends up with a cerebral jazz musician named Basil (played amusingly by Frank Gorshin). Basil doesn’t realize how unattractive (even though she isn’t unattractive) Angie is behind his half inch thick glasses.

Naive Melanie meets two ivy-leaguers, Dill (John Brennan) and Franklin (Rory Harrity) staying in the same hotel. Melanie, misunderstanding Merritt’s views toward pre-marital relations with the opposite sex, sleeps with Dill. When Dill is finished with her, he hands her off to Franklin. Franklin keeps Melanie around longer and gives her the false impression that he’s in love with her. It isn’t until Franklin hands her back over to Dill that she gets the picture and tries to kill herself by wandering around in the middle of a busy highway.

“Where the Boys Are” is an early, fun beach movie with a lot more witty dialogue than the average beach fare. It also tended to explore taboo subjects such as pre-marital sex. Dolores Hart, the film’s star, was an attractive and interesting actress that made several movies in the late fifties/early sixties but abandoned Hollywood in 1963 to become a nun.

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