Cast & Crew
At the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, cadets Barry Denton and Tony Collins dream of dating French movie queen Michelle Marton. When they read a fan magazine describing Michelle's lovelorn life, the boys decide to stage a raffle in which the winner will invite Michelle as his date to graduation. Michelle is to be guest of honor at the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans, and when VMI's regimental band is invited to join the parade, the cunning cadets see the perfect opportunity to approach the movie star. When the cadets' unenthusiastic roommate, Paul Newell, wins the drawing, the boys give him advice on handling women. In New Orleans, Michelle, accompanied by studio publicity agent Al Curtis and his assistant, Eadie West, complains that her schedule leaves her no time to relax or meet men. When the studio insists that she report back for filming the following day, Michelle rebels and refuses to waste her precious free time riding on a float. Donning a carnival mask, Michelle joins the revelers in the street and there meets Paul, who failing to recognize her as Michelle the movie queen, invites her to join him. Upon discovering that Michelle is missing, Eadie dresses in her costume and mask and takes her place on the float. As Paul and Michelle dine at a fancy restaurant, Paul confides that he won a date with a famous French actress in a raffle. Michelle then unmasks and introduces herself as Eadie. When Paul sheepishly explains that his roommates trapped him into inviting the glamorous actress to their graduation, Michelle is amused and tells Paul that she works at a cannery in Los Angeles. Soon after, reporter Ann Harris enters the restaurant, and recognizing Michelle, snaps a photo of the couple and files a story. After completing her duties on the float, Eadie goes searching for Michelle at a café, and there meets Tony, Barry and their other roommate, Dick Saglon, who have come looking for Paul. Tony pairs with Eadie while Barry romances dancer Torchy Larue, a studious-looking stripper, and Dick is attracted to Sylvia, a flirtatious coed. At the park, Paul invites Michelle to attend his graduation, and after she accepts, she excuses herself to go to a party, Before leaving, she promises to meet Paul later that night in the park after the party. Paul's three roommates and their dates converge at the French Market Café, and soon after, Paul arrives and notifies them that he wants to end "Operation Marton" because he met a girl. Eadie then offers to take Paul to a party where he can meet Michelle. When Eadie introduces Michelle, Paul feels betrayed and says he must leave because he has a late date. As Paul angrily waits at the park, Michelle runs into his arms. The next morning, while packing to return to Hollywood, Eadie speaks lovingly of Tony and Michelle of Paul. Back in Hollywood, the studio takes advantage of the newspaper headlines about the cadet and the movie star by announcing Michelle's engagement to Paul. At VMI, the cadets' lives are disrupted by Paul's notoriety, and Barry suggests that the whole affair was just a publicity stunt concocted by Michelle. Concerned about the effect the publicity has had on Paul's life, Michelle decides to go to Lexington to speak with him. There, Michelle apologizes to Paul, but when she offers to come for graduation, he tells her to forget they ever met. Paul returns to campus agitated, and when Eadie finds Michelle distraught in her hotel room, she realizes that the film star has fallen in love with the cadet and advises her not to let Paul go. At the graduation dance, Eadie dances with Tony, Barry with Torchy and Dick with Sylvia, while Paul watches, alone. When Michelle suddenly appears, Paul whisks her away, and she vows she will never let him go.
The Corps Of Cadets Of The Virginia Military Institute
Harold De Garro
Wilfrid M. Cline
Warren B. Delaplain
Charles Le Maire
Lieut. Edmund Pendleton Jr. Usar
Stuart A. Reiss
Walter M. Scott
Paul Francis Webster
Lyle R. Wheeler
The Variety review misnames several of the film's characters. According to a March 1958 Hollywood Reporter news item, the studio was considering Shirley Jones for a lead role and Henry Levin as director. A June 1958 Hollywood Reporter news item adds that Jill St. John was up for one of the leads. Although a Hollywood Reporter production chart places June Blair and Joan Lowe in the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. A October 9, 1958 Hollywood Reporter news item, printed before the film's release, states that the song "A Fiddle and a Rifle" was to be cut from the film because it featured Pat Boone singing to a group of African-American shoeshine boys. The studio feared that white Southerners might resent the scene as a plug for integration and that the NAACP would charge that it depicted African Americans as menials. The song did appear in the released version, but was sung over a montage of images of the Mardi Gras parade.
n October 1958 Hollywood Reporter news item adds that the entire film was to be re-recorded because the original scoring was done in Mexico during a strike of the American Federation of Musicians. The studio felt that the Mexican musicians did not convey the flavor of Dixieland music, and so decided to re-record both the songs and the background music. For his work on the film, Lionel Newman received an Academy Award in the Music (Scoring of a Musical Picture) category. According to the Variety review, background shots were filmed at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, VA. Studio publicity contained in the film's production file at the AMPAS Library adds that Twentieth Century-Fox photographers filmed the VMI band as they marched in the Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans, LA. The 1938 Warner Bros. film Brother Rat (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40) was also set at VMI.
Released in United States Fall November 1958
Released in United States Fall November 1958