For Those Who Think Young
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he California surf side Oceancrest college is the setting for the kids-against-authority collegiate comedy-musical For Those Who Think Young (1964). This is a classic teen movie concept, in which the square school administrators at Oceancrest are pitted against the fun-loving college students who gather each night for some underage drinking and burlesque courtesy of the sultry Topaz McQueen (Tina Louise) at the Surf's Up nightclub. Characterized by one administrator as "a low dive on the corners of our campus," the Surf's Up will look to contemporary viewers like a posh supper club featuring well-dressed college kids in navy blazers and spit-slicked hair stock-still and attentive as the show begins. But the real attraction at Surf's Up is the irreverent, wise-cracking club comedian (played by real-life comic Woody Woodbury), referred to by his adoring audience of college kids as "Uncle Woody." Every evening in his graduation cap and gown, Uncle Woody makes a mockery of academic book learnin' regaling his captive audience with saucy jokes, silly songs and banter. In addition to his popular nightclub act, Woody is also the guardian of beautiful coed Sandy Palmer (Pamela Tiffin); she lives in a sorority house filled with overeager man-crazed girls sent into a delirium at the sound of a phone call and a potential boyfriend on the other end.
Despite her best efforts to avoid the campus ladies' man, Sandy finds herself besotted with a wealthy surfer dude Gardner "Ding" Pruitt III (James Darren). But like a tanned and toned beach town Romeo and Juliet, their romance is imperiled by meddling family members. Ding's granddaddy Burford Sanford Cronin (Robert Middleton) is convinced that Sandy is Ding's social inferior and a gold digger who is only after Ding's money. When Sandra refuses Burford's offer to stay away from Ding and transfer to another school, Burford vows to shut down the college kids' beloved Surf's Up as a warped form of revenge.
Part of the ploy to shutter the Surf's Up is the prudish Dr. Pauline Swenson (Ellen Burstyn, who was billed as Ellen McRae at the time) a faculty member empowered by moneybags Burford and the Oceancrest administration to find evidence of wrong doing at Surf's Up. Pauline sneaks into the Surf's Up where her fruit juice is spiked with alcohol and she ends up too toasted to submit her report of the club's naughty goings on.
In between the middling intrigue of whether or not the Surf's Up will shut down For Those Who Think Young is a hip-shaking, spring break party in the Gidget (1959) mold, featuring lasses in bikinis and shirtless bohunks gyrating to a succession of perky numbers. This was United Artists' effort to offer their own take on the immensely popular Beach Party franchise from American International Pictures starring Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon that began with Beach Party in 1963.
Teen idol James Darren also appeared as Moondoggie, the boyfriend of Gidget, in a three film series which included Gidget with Sandra Dee in the title role, Gidget Goes Hawaiian (1961) with Deborah Walley replacing Dee and Gidget Goes to Rome (1963) with Cindy Carol as the surfer girl heroine. Also in the cast of For Those Who Think Young is future Gilligan's Island TV star Bob Denver as a beatnik Kelp pursued by coed Karen Cross (Nancy Sinatra). In one of the film's stranger numbers, Denver sings a surf tune upside down, with a beatik face painted around his mouth in the surreal number "Ho Daddy, Surf's Up."
Though it is not surprising to see the two future Gilligan's Island stars Tina Louise and Bob Denver in this frothy comedy, it is a slight shock to see a paragon of Seventies-era independent cinema Ellen Burstyn (The Last Picture Show, 1971, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, 1974) playing a stick in the mud college professor trying to bust up the kiddies' fun. There are also a number of interesting additional cameos in the film including Frank Sinatra's daughter Nancy, Dean Martin's daughter Claudia and world famous surfer Mickey Dora as a college student in the film.
Leading the quirky cast of For Those Who Think Young is Woody Woodbury. A popular stand-up comedian whose records of risque comedy sketches were big hits, Woodbury replaced Johnny Carson as the Who Do You Trust game show host in 1962 when Carson moved to The Tonight Show. Woodbury also hosted the talk and variety show The Woody Woodbury Show from 1967 to 1969. Woodbury went on to perform in a string of Hollywood films including Super Fuzz (1980) and Hardly Working (1980), though he lamented that much of his work on that Jerry Lewis film ended up on the cutting room floor. It's also worth noting that Woodbury appears in For Those Who Think Young alongside future Hollywood Squares comedian Paul Lynde, playing one of Sandy's guardians.
For Those Who Think Young was made on Laguna Beach near Malibu on the Paramount lot. Woodbury tried to get the pop group The Strawberry Alarm Clock to appear in the film but instead the producers showcased a group called the Challengers, whose members appear for the song "I'm Gonna Walk All Over This Land" alongside Jimmy Griffin, a founding member of the band Bread, and Paul Johnson of the Bel-Airs.
While discussing For Those Who Think Young on the online site Classic Television Showbiz, Woodbury stated, "It was Nancy's first movie. She didn't have that big of a part, but that was due to her dad. At that point, Nancy was going with a singer named Tommy Sands. Frank Sinatra did not care for Tommy Sands. It was a convoluted series of events that happened at that time. Sinatra was partners with Howard Koch who was president of Paramount. Koch was a close friend of mine and he and Sinatra teamed up to form Essex Productions. That's where the money came from for the movie...and Pepsi-Cola." There might have been some credence to Woodbury's contention: a Pepsi machine is prominently displayed in several scenes on the bar at the Surf's Up.
Producer: Hugh Benson
Director: Leslie H. Martinson
Screenplay: James O'Hanlon, George O'Hanlon (screenplay); Dan Beaumont (screenplay and story)
Cinematography: Harold E. Stine
Art Direction: Arthur Lonergan, Hal Pereira
Music: Jerry Fielding
Film Editing: Frank P. Keller
Cast: James Darren (Gardner 'Ding' Pruitt III), Pamela Tiffin (Sandy Palmer), Paul Lynde (Sid Hoyt), Tina Louise (Topaz McQueen), Bob Denver (Kelp), Robert Middleton (Burford Sanford Cronin), Nancy Sinatra (Karen Cross), Claudia Martin (Sue Lewis), Ellen McRae (Dr. Pauline Swenson), Woody Woodbury (Woody Woodbury).
by Felicia Feaster