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Celluloid staycations: Where The Boys Are and Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation

If you’re the type that demands more, you’ve come to the wrong place.

Where the Boys Are: hit the road with Dolores Hart, Paula Prentiss, Connie Francis, and Yvette Mimieux.
Where the Boys Are: hit the road with Dolores Hart, Paula Prentiss, Connie Francis, and Yvette Mimieux.

Still reluctant to book a flight? Here are a couple of vacations you can take without leaving home.

Where The Boys Are (1960)

A convincingly fabricated backlot blizzard is enough to persuade four Midwestern college girls to spend spring break taking a road trip to Ft. Lauderdale. The quartet is comprised of boisterous Angie (Connie Francis), who would rather sing than get mixed up with romance; five-feet-ten-and-a-half without stockings Tuggle (Paula Prentiss), who wants nothing more than to become some guy’s “walking, talking baby factory;” a self-destructive, live-it-up-kid type, Mel (Yvette Mimieux), who can’t wait to ditch her friends and hit the beach in search of an Ivy Leaguer; and the studious, free-thinking group leader Merritt (Dolores Hart). If the ‘50s were, as Lily Tomlin suggests, a decade of foreplay, the time was right for MGM to recognize that teenagers have sex.

Before hitting the road, we pay a visit to where the boys aren’t: Dr. Raunch’s (Amy Douglass) sex-ed class. Raunch is not a name befitting the confirmed bachelorette with the lamb’s wool suit and hairdressing to match (and without a wedding ring in sight), lecturing a bunch of libidinous teenagers on the subject of abstention. Merritt calls Raunch out for assigning an “old fashioned” textbook. (Asking Merritt to define “making out” proves how little raunch there is left in the old professor.) Merritt supports the concept of premarital sex — watch as Raunch gets a facial Charlie Horse at the mention of Dr. Kinsey — encouraging her classmates to play a little “back-seat bingo” on the first date if they expect there to be a second.

The boys that “are” are as follows: Tuggle’s multi-hatted paramour TV Thompson (Jim Hutton); rich boy Ryder Smith; George Hamilton, tanned, rested, ready (and with a two-finger part in his hair) making time with Merritt; Basil (Frank Gorshin), skilled in dialectic jazz and capturing Angie’s heart, though he’s lost without his kaleidoscopic Coke bottle specs; and the two “Yalies” (John Brennan and Rory Harrity), who take turns passing Mel around like a virus. (She’s the Instant dipsomaniac type: just add gin.) In my youth, it was hard not to feel that the punishment for promiscuity was a headlong stroll into oncoming traffic.

Behind the camera, veteran studio fluff-meister Henry Levin (Mister Scoutmaster, Honeymoon Hotel) keeps things moving along. His concept of blocking translates into two couples occupying the same space without bumping into one another. If you’re the type that demands more, you’ve come to the wrong place. Where the Boys Are is where the style isn’t.

Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1963)

The original intention was a quiet summer by the shore for Roger Hobbs (Stewart), his wife Peggy (Maureen O’Hara), and their two youngsters, Katey (Lauri Peters) and Danny (Michael Burns). After a brief introductory shot of Jimmy Stewart behind the wheel, all similarities between this and Vertigo cease to exist. Hobbs is a sullen, humorless, well-to-do banker, contemptuous of almost every member of his family, a man who spends his days dictating long, vitriolic personal memos about them to his secretary — on company time.

The vacation destination is a ramshackle fixer-upper that houses a lot more character than the sterile colosseum in St. Louis the family calls home. In order to ensure comic results, the nuclear family is joined by more kids and grandkids, a dour-faced domestic, and sons-in-law.

Everything that could possibly go wrong does. Studio hack Henry Koster tries to show his hand at comic invention by pitting Hobbs against a Rube Goldberg septic pump, but it’s a running gag that barely limps. Hobbs never pays attention to, gets involved with, or even communicates with his kids. Even a third-generation Hobbs trembles in his quake: his bipolar grandson, who takes great delight in calling Hobbs “Boom-pah,” repeatedly voices his hatred for the non-nurturing patriarch. As a child, Mr. Hobbs appeared to me to be a great provider and ideal father figure. I understand his behavior more clearly now. He basically wants to get all of his kids out of the house, down pitchers of martinis with Peg, and fool around.

There’s not much more to gripe about. Well, actually, there is — the 4:30 am bird-watching jaunt appears to have been shot after lunch — but that’s okay. Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation has been inside my head so long that knocking it would be tantamount to maligning a favorite uncle, no matter how lame and unfunny he might have been.

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Where the Boys Are: hit the road with Dolores Hart, Paula Prentiss, Connie Francis, and Yvette Mimieux.
Where the Boys Are: hit the road with Dolores Hart, Paula Prentiss, Connie Francis, and Yvette Mimieux.

Still reluctant to book a flight? Here are a couple of vacations you can take without leaving home.

Where The Boys Are (1960)

A convincingly fabricated backlot blizzard is enough to persuade four Midwestern college girls to spend spring break taking a road trip to Ft. Lauderdale. The quartet is comprised of boisterous Angie (Connie Francis), who would rather sing than get mixed up with romance; five-feet-ten-and-a-half without stockings Tuggle (Paula Prentiss), who wants nothing more than to become some guy’s “walking, talking baby factory;” a self-destructive, live-it-up-kid type, Mel (Yvette Mimieux), who can’t wait to ditch her friends and hit the beach in search of an Ivy Leaguer; and the studious, free-thinking group leader Merritt (Dolores Hart). If the ‘50s were, as Lily Tomlin suggests, a decade of foreplay, the time was right for MGM to recognize that teenagers have sex.

Before hitting the road, we pay a visit to where the boys aren’t: Dr. Raunch’s (Amy Douglass) sex-ed class. Raunch is not a name befitting the confirmed bachelorette with the lamb’s wool suit and hairdressing to match (and without a wedding ring in sight), lecturing a bunch of libidinous teenagers on the subject of abstention. Merritt calls Raunch out for assigning an “old fashioned” textbook. (Asking Merritt to define “making out” proves how little raunch there is left in the old professor.) Merritt supports the concept of premarital sex — watch as Raunch gets a facial Charlie Horse at the mention of Dr. Kinsey — encouraging her classmates to play a little “back-seat bingo” on the first date if they expect there to be a second.

The boys that “are” are as follows: Tuggle’s multi-hatted paramour TV Thompson (Jim Hutton); rich boy Ryder Smith; George Hamilton, tanned, rested, ready (and with a two-finger part in his hair) making time with Merritt; Basil (Frank Gorshin), skilled in dialectic jazz and capturing Angie’s heart, though he’s lost without his kaleidoscopic Coke bottle specs; and the two “Yalies” (John Brennan and Rory Harrity), who take turns passing Mel around like a virus. (She’s the Instant dipsomaniac type: just add gin.) In my youth, it was hard not to feel that the punishment for promiscuity was a headlong stroll into oncoming traffic.

Behind the camera, veteran studio fluff-meister Henry Levin (Mister Scoutmaster, Honeymoon Hotel) keeps things moving along. His concept of blocking translates into two couples occupying the same space without bumping into one another. If you’re the type that demands more, you’ve come to the wrong place. Where the Boys Are is where the style isn’t.

Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1963)

The original intention was a quiet summer by the shore for Roger Hobbs (Stewart), his wife Peggy (Maureen O’Hara), and their two youngsters, Katey (Lauri Peters) and Danny (Michael Burns). After a brief introductory shot of Jimmy Stewart behind the wheel, all similarities between this and Vertigo cease to exist. Hobbs is a sullen, humorless, well-to-do banker, contemptuous of almost every member of his family, a man who spends his days dictating long, vitriolic personal memos about them to his secretary — on company time.

The vacation destination is a ramshackle fixer-upper that houses a lot more character than the sterile colosseum in St. Louis the family calls home. In order to ensure comic results, the nuclear family is joined by more kids and grandkids, a dour-faced domestic, and sons-in-law.

Everything that could possibly go wrong does. Studio hack Henry Koster tries to show his hand at comic invention by pitting Hobbs against a Rube Goldberg septic pump, but it’s a running gag that barely limps. Hobbs never pays attention to, gets involved with, or even communicates with his kids. Even a third-generation Hobbs trembles in his quake: his bipolar grandson, who takes great delight in calling Hobbs “Boom-pah,” repeatedly voices his hatred for the non-nurturing patriarch. As a child, Mr. Hobbs appeared to me to be a great provider and ideal father figure. I understand his behavior more clearly now. He basically wants to get all of his kids out of the house, down pitchers of martinis with Peg, and fool around.

There’s not much more to gripe about. Well, actually, there is — the 4:30 am bird-watching jaunt appears to have been shot after lunch — but that’s okay. Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation has been inside my head so long that knocking it would be tantamount to maligning a favorite uncle, no matter how lame and unfunny he might have been.

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Comments
5

RE: "Behind the camera, veteran studio fluff-meister Henry Koster" Hmmm, IMDb credits the director as Henry Levin. ;-) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054469/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2

July 25, 2021

You got me. In my mind, they're interchangeable. Thank you!

July 29, 2021

My anal editing nature. And I get them both confused with Henry the 8th! Wasn't he a British movie director? ;-)

July 31, 2021

In today's world, they would do a remake of both in one movie: "Mr. Hobbs Outs Himself, Takes a Vacation in West Hollywood Where the Boys Are."

Aug. 9, 2021

Didn't Alan Carr already do that in 1984?

Aug. 10, 2021

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