July 17, 2011


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Daddy Long Legs
A slight, later Astaire musical. In this scene, he’s chaperoning a dance at a girls’ prep school, and meets a rather athletic young lady.

A Hatful of Rain
The Vassar joke in this 1957 film about a young man hooked on drugs is almost impossible to hear; pay attention to the man in the left background, with the pipe—his complaint about the football players' performance makes a bit of a gendered complaint.

Girls Town (via Mystery Science Theater 3000)
I could only find this turkey of a movie when it got the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment so you’ll have to excuse the snarky comments and the frame around the movie. This was a juvenile-delinquent movie, a common theme in the 1950s—with a little twist in that this one was about bad girls. In our scene, the nun who runs the reformatory Girls Town jokes with a cop about her charges.

Thanks to Jason Marin ’96 for the tip.

The Best of Everything
Fans of Mad Men might enjoy this early 1960s melodrama that features some scenes of women in a Manhattan skyscraper office building, as many design elements are precisely the same. Our scene is interesting to see that it would be assumed a very capable secretary would have gone to a high-end women’s college.

Thanks to Janine Utell and Angela David Beatty ’93 for the tip.

Some Like it Hot
This is perhaps the most well-known reference of all, which is surprising since it’s not really that interesting a scene. (But a great movie!) Many people seem to feel that Marilyn Monroe’s character is a Vassar girl, but as you’ll see she’s only pretending to be such to impress Tony Curtis—who in turn is pretending to be wealthy to impress her.

The Young Savages
Burt Lancaster stars in a strong drama, directed by John Frankenheimer; he plays an assistant D.A. helping an ex-girlfriend's son who has been accused of murdering a member of a rival street gang. 

Alfred Hitchcock Presents

The famous anthology series brings us a dark tale where callow Brad wants to cut off his ex-girlfriend Leslie so he can marry Janice. Leslie has some other ideas about the situation, including a few unkind things to say about Janice. 

Leave it to Beaver (2 episodes)
Sitcoms are a major component of the collection, and we start early with Leave it to Beaver. The scenes are drawn from two different episodes—and we get two different tropes: one about men attending, and one about how the girls who attend are too intelligent/forceful/demonstrative.

Thanks to Renee Mesard ’89 and Becca Worthington for the tip.

Perry Mason
On this classic legal-drama show, the wonderful James Coburn meets someone’s wife, and she’s not what he expected in a Vassar grad. His expectations were more toward the studious and, apparently, unattractive.

The Beverly Hillbillies (5 episodes)
It’s fairly well known in TV circles that the Beverly Hillbillies character Miss Jane Hathaway was a Vassar graduate. My obsessive desire for completeness here did find its limits, as I couldn’t bring myself to watch all 270 episodes. However, as she’s a secondary character, I did watch all of her scenes, and in all that material, I located only five references: from the 1st, 4th, 6th, 7th and 9th seasons. (Vassar went co-ed around the 6th season.) I suspect there are other references, as none here seem memorable enough to have made her status as a Vassarite so well-known.

77 Sunset Strip
Classic television's L.A.-private detective show has this scene between two regulars: one of the PIs and the hipster valet attendant at the club next door to their office. Including the credits because they're really...something. 

Thanks to RJ Dorn for the tip.

Take Her, She’s Mine
The 1960s counterculture was starting to drift into movies. (See also Skidoo.) This comedy is about how college students in the early ’60s worried their parents as they began to participate in the counterculture. Sandra Dee sings Hava Nagila in this one— a scene that’s pretty fascinating in its own right, but our interest here lies in this near-final scene. Jimmy Stewart, her father, is in a meeting called by his social club to kick him out because of his strange behavior over the past months. He explains through the movie that it’s all because of his trying to keep his daughter out of trouble. And in this final scene, when the club is getting ready to render its judgment, it turns out, he’s not the only one.

Thanks to Angela David Beatty ’93 for the tip.

Robin and the 7 Hoods
The Rat Pack was fun in spirit but their movies were sure lousy. It makes sense for Vassar to make an appearance here, in the person of a sultry temptress who walks in and knocks Frank on his ear. A character point only, but we’re now beginning to see more Vassar girls being sexually forward.

Goodbye Charlie
This clip isn’t such a great scene, but interesting in that it references the Daisy Chain. Debbie Reynolds is playing a man—Tony Curtis’s partner in various criminal enterprises –who died and came back in the body of a gorgeous blonde. For the most part, tedium ensues; it’s not that funny and a misfire from a good director (Vincente Minnelli). Our scene is fairly deep into the movie, where Reynolds is beginning to enjoy life as a woman, even becoming more of one, and thinks about marrying the big gambler who killed her former, male self.

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