March (my favorite month) is a month filled with many things to celebrate, which is why for the month of March I am not only bringing you a curated double feature each week, but a different theme to boot. Up first, Spring Break. March kicks off a series of college spring breaks across the county. With that, college student flocks to the beach to blow off steam. I did not partake in this tradition (when I did take spring break trips, they tended to be to colder climates. I guess that is why I live in Wisconsin), but I will admit, I do love a well done spring break film. Today, I bring you two, with a similar theme (essentially premarital sex), but each film with very different outcomes.
Where the Boys Are (1960)
Where The Boys Are actually predates "The Beach Party" movies (you know the ones with Frankie & Annette) by three years. In the film four Midwestern college girls escape to Ft. Lauderdale for spring break. A trip inspired by Merritt Andrews' (Dolores Hart) speech about how all women should experience premarital sex. Melanie Tolman (Yvette Mimieux), Carpenter (Paula Prentiss), Angie (Connie Francis) agree and together the four embark on their spring break trip. Of course, their ideas and viewpoints are challenged by the "boys": Ryder Smith (George Hamilton), Franklin (Rory Harrity), "TV" Thompson (Jim Hutton), (Frank Gorshin), and Dill (John Brennan).
They have fun times and goofy moments (Connie Francis gets to sing, of course!), but like many people will experience on spring break there are regrets and consequences. Even worse, the film tackles the all-too-real subject of rape. Probably also not a topic you were expecting from the trailer (which you can view below) or the description - for example from IMDB: "Four very different college girls drive to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for spring break and seek out various adventures and romance for themselves." But in reality, a mix of "good time fun" and the potential dangers that lurk around the corner when alcohol, drugs, and blowing off steam are combined.
On another note, the film is apparently important to the history of Ft. Lauderdale, not for the content, but the opening credits which depict beautiful aerial footage of the shoreline, which helps them note how the beach has changed since the 1960s.
The Sure Thing (1985)
Though The Sure Thing (directed by Rob Reiner - did you know that?) takes place over winter / Christmas break, this film has everything that is required of a Spring Break film. Lead / Leads escaping a snowy winter for a warmer climate. In this case you have Walter 'Gib' Gibson (John Cusack) and Alison Bradbury (Daphne Zuniga) both escaping their New England school to travel 3000 miles to sunny Los Angeles. In classic spring break style, their road trip goes terrible wrong: they get kicked out of their ride share, picked up by creepy characters, lose money, starve, get caught in the rain, etc.
They each have a person waiting on the other side of the trip, for Gib is "The Sure Thing" (Nicollette Sheridan) set up by his ol' high school pal Lance (Anthony Edwards). I should probably explain that a) they never gave Sheridan's character a name and b) a sure thing is a no-strings-attached, one night stand. For Alison it is her straight-laced boyfriend Jason (Boyd Gaines). Gib and Alison have class together and, all in all, do not get along. This leads to many bickering sessions, but also something else, which complicated the trip even more along the way. They challenge each other and through their adventure change and question their original plans.
Despite being set during Winter/ Christmas break, the film was actually released in March of 1985 - the beginning of Spring Break season. I think even the studios understand the parallels between The Sure Thing and spring break films.