I am a sucker for fish-out-of-water movies. My two favorites are Crocodile Dundee (1986) and this one. It’s the story of 51-year-old widower, Harvey Howard (Bing Crosby). HH is the owner of over 1,400 successful hamburger outlets. He is rich, famous and can sing like Bing. Despite protestations by his adult children, he decides to go to college. If you follow the timeline of the story based on dialogue and visual cues, it would seem that Harvey didn’t graduate from high school until he was 24 or 25. Good singer. Slow learner.
As freshmen, Harvey joins Fabian, Richard Beymer (Tony in West Side Story) and one other in the dormitory/frat house life. Also at the college is Tuesday Weld, who, in different years, is the love interest of Fabian and RB. HT is directed by Blake Edwards who went on to direct the successful Pink Panther series and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Henry Mancini, before his multiple Best Score Oscars, adds the music background. HM provides the perfect rah-rah college theme along with a score full of fun and romance. Legendary song writers James Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen wrote one of their all time classic songs, The Second Time Around, and Bing introduced the song in this film.
Four years of college life only take 102 minutes to portray on screen. The story takes place at a fictional southern college known as Pinehurst. The exterior scenes where HH arrives to start each college year were filmed near Royce Hall at UCLA. The other college scenes were done at the University (then College) of the Pacific in Stockton, CA. Additional scenes were filmed at the adjoining San Joaquin Delta College, and the graduation scene and dance were done at Stockton Jr. High School.
As a fish-out-of-water story, this one is right up there with the Aussie down under in NYC film mentioned previously. Full of innocent humor and college pranks, the college years flow by, full of sports, romance and Mancini’s fantastic score. It also gives you a chance to see a little of Stockton – before the recent bankruptcy. Most of the indoor scenes were shot on the lot at 20th Century Fox in Hollywood.
While romancing the beautiful French professor, Bing gets a chance to sing the classic song mentioned above. He also chimes in with a Christmas carol, while Fabian adds a folk song. Bing was still in full voice and recording regularly at this time in his life. Keep in mind that Bing had 38 number one hit records. Compare this to The Beatles with 24, and Elvis Presley with 18, and you get the idea how big Bing was in the music world.
I have a VHS-quality of this film on my DVR. It looks horrible, but I have never seen any release of this film on VHS or DVD. Now, for a limited time, it is on Blu-Ray disc. Limited to 3,000 copies, you can find it at Screen Archives’ website. It is another fine release from Twilight Time. The original preview for the film is included. Watch for the campfire scene – it didn’t end up in the movie. Henry Mancini’s score is available on the disc as a separate track.
Rated 4.0 grade point average. It’s high time you see High Time.