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Get Yourself a College Girl (DVD Review)

23 May, 2011 By: Mike Clark

Available via WBshop.com’s Warner Archive
$19.95 DVD
Not rated.
Stars Mary Ann Mobley, Chad Everett, Joan O’Brien, Nancy Sinatra, Chris Noel.

For ample proof that MGM was in deep, deep trouble in terms of gauging changing tastes well before the dreaded James Aubrey regime of the early 1970s, here’s a Sam Katzman December-release quickie that studio suits elected to toss into the same late-year marketplace as Goldfinger, My Fair Lady and Cary Grant’s final romantic role in Father Goose. Though the movie is so frugally mounted that it possibly turned a mild profit, one’s immediate response is to say, “Get yourself some red ink.”

Yet speaking purely theoretically and not in terms of execution, perhaps producer Katzman — who deserves a Cooperstown wing all his own in a big-screen Hall of Schlock just for having putting George Jessel and his William Howard Taft demographic with Willie and the Hand Jive’s Johnny Otis in the same movie (Juke Box Rhythm) — may have been onto something. Not long after Girl came out, my best friend took a blue-collar job at which a work colleague asked a lot of questions in Jonathan Winters intonations. Questions like, “You ever have a girl bite your stomach?” and the big one: “You ever get any of that college (pronounced ‘col-wege’) stuff?” Maybe this movie was for that guy.

We begin with a student played by onetime Miss America Mary Ann Mobley, who does her part for coming sexual liberation here by almost getting bounced from something called Wyndham College for composing a randy tune on the subject whose lyrics include the words, “Siggy Freud.” Prunes of both sexes on Wyndham’s board are shocked — just as townsfolk were shocked in Katzman’s ‘50s’ Bill Haley movies about this new thing called rock ‘n’ roll. Fortunately, snowy holidays are coming up, so the wise woman dean (how did she get here?) suggests a cooling off period — which works out appropriately enough because the young women (no, wait, girls) are on their way to Sun Valley. Or, actually, a matte painting of Sun Valley in which the cast can walk in front of when they’re not skiing against rear-screen projection.

More or less chaperoning them is an older college employee played by Joan O’Brien, who was an ancient 28 or so here. But O’Brien wasn’t a brief Elvis flame in real life for nothing, so she fits right in with a full 1.85 Metrocolor frame of hotties — though, in truth, my 22-year-old son instantly pointed to co-star Chris Noel, dismissed the also-rans and said, “She’s the one.” (I’d have to agree.) Nancy Sinatra plays the one group member who’s married, which means the script gives her character permission to shack up with a husband for almost the entire picture. Watching Nancy here before her boots started walking, I kept thinking of the old Mad Magazine regular feature: “Scenes We’d Like To See.” Mine is Frank in a station wagon watching this movie at the Palm Springs’ Drive-In’s 4 am “coffee and donuts show” after three other features — all starring Jerry Van Dyke — have preceded.

The Dave Clark Five and The Animals appear in what had been a big year for both groups but don’t sing any of their hits. Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto do perform their biggest — “The Girl from Ipanema” — but the staging is bereft of imagination (I kept thinking of Martin Scorsese’s two studio-shot numbers with Emmylou Harris and The Staples in The Last Waltz, dreaming of what could have been). Wearing a turban, character actor Willard Waterman (once radio and TV’s “The Great Gildersleeve”) gets up on the dance floor for a pants-falling-down gag, and there’s also a cut from dancers doing the Watusi to stock footage of peripatetic African natives from what I assume is MGM’s 1959 Watusi — or maybe it’s the stock footage that Watusi recycled from 1950’s King Solomon’s Mines. MGM in those days would get good grades from today’s environmentalists for all the recycling they used to do.

If it’s all getting too complicated, this Warner “on-demand” title simply is what it is — which means that male lead Chad Everett (a couple years before he starred in The Singing Nun) is going to be characteristically unctuous in a Midwest country club kind of way. It also means that this later-to-late Katzman has a certain period charm — even though its release virtually simultaneously with Berkeley’s “Free Speech Movement” means that it was already out of its period. Not all that long after this, the movies would have felt the pressure to remount this as Get Yourself a College Girl To Bite Your Stomach — at least for the Times Square engagements.

About the Author: Mike Clark

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