Cast & Crew
College freshman Mickey Henderson suffers from a severe stutter when tense and is only assured and calm with young women his own age. Pressured to participate in a fraternity "rush" by his father, Mickey's subsequent anxiety causes him deep embarrassment during the event and he is rejected by the organization. When Mickey's parents urge him to seek assistance from a speech therapist, he refuses. On campus, Mickey meets Sue and the two are immediately attracted to each other and begin dating. Sue remains unaware of Mickey's stutter as he is happy and confident in her presence. Sue's sultry roommate Doreen takes an interest in Mickey, and despite his relationship with Sue, sets about seducing him. Discovering that Mickey has slept with Doreen, an angry and hurt Sue confronts Mickey, explaining that she wanted to wait for the proper time before having sex. After Sue breaks up with him, Mickey continues seeing Doreen but begins to suspect that she has lied to him and has slept with other men. Under continuing pressure from his parents, Mickey visits the speech clinic, but is uncomfortable with the advised treatment. When Mickey confronts Doreen about his suspicions, she admits she has had numerous lovers both before and after him. Distraught, Mickey begins stuttering and is shattered when Doreen taunts him. At last ready to face his problem, Mickey returns to the speech clinic and Sue.
The working title of the film was Mickey. A script entitled Mickey was copyrighted on October 28, 1957 by writer-director-star Tom Laughlin under the number LU3140. Copyright records indicate the film itself was registered in 1962 but "in notice" in 1959. Contemporary publicity information from the film's screening at the San Francisco Film festival lists characters "Sue" and "Doreen" with the last name of Dawson, but all reviews and summary information indicate that the characters are college roommates and in no way related.
Laughlin stated in a December 1959 LA Mirror-News item that he shot the film in 1957 as an exercise for the performers in his workshop. A New York Times article states that Laughlin wrote the script in two days and filmed it over six days in and around the University of California, Los Angeles campus in Westwood. After filming ended, Laughlin ran out of funds and, as a result, The Proper Time remained incomplete for two years. According to the LA Mirror-News article, director Joshua Logan, who had directed Laughlin in a small role in South Pacific (see below), loaned him the money for editing and a score, while two January 1960 New York Times articles asert that Laughlin worked various acting jobs to raise the completion money himself.
According to the January 31, 1960 New York Times news item, Ilya Lopert, president of Lopert Films, Inc., acquired the distribution rights for The Proper Time. Information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collecion at the AMPAS Library notes that Laughlin and Lopert Films submitted the film for a production seal in March 1962, with United Artists listed as the distributing company. The Proper Time marked the directorial debut for Laughlin, who had previously appeared in featured roles in numerous films and television programs. In 1971 Laughlin's low budget, anti-establishment film Billy Jack, distributed by Warner Bros., became one of the most successful financial pictures of the time and spawned two sequels. Laughlin has since devoted his attention primarily to education and has launched several campaigns for the U.S. Presidency.