July 17, 2011


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The Flamingo Kid
A Matt Dillon coming-of-age movie, we find him at dinner with his girlfriend’s family, who come from a vastly different social class than he does. Here Vassar is a class marker, a place where a wealthy and well-bred family might want their daughter to go.

Thanks to Soyon Im ’91 for the tip.

Nasty Lady
A trailer for a porn movie. There's probably a lot to say about this, but...why bother. 

Thanks to Jason Evans '94 for finding this.

The Muppets Take Manhattan
Frank Oz found Vassar an idyllic enough setting to make this marvelous opening for the third Muppets film, soaring over the quad and landing in front of ACDC. Pay no attention to that sign!

Thanks to Jess Abelson ’00 for the tip.

Police Academy
This one really just has to be seen to be believed. The named costume designer was not a graduate. Why put the bad guy in a Vassar T-shirt? He certainly doesn’t seem like a graduate!

Thanks to Christopher Deutsch ’97, Leslie Kline-Capelle, Christine Beers, and Sylvia Koontz for the tip.

You Can’t Do That On Television
Each episode of this Canadian kids’ show had a collection of sketches organized around a common theme. On the episode about colleges, there were three jokes about Vassar.  This was from 1984 so men could certainly attend (and it never awarded doctorates) so the jokes don’t quite work, but it’s interesting to see Vassar on a show aimed at teenagers.

Thanks to Naomi Heftler ’95 for the tip.

The A-Team
The quintessential '80s action show brings our heroes to an unnamed North African country to protect the princess at her upcoming wedding. Guess who unexpectedly went to Vassar (hint: not Mr. T.)?

When the description reads, "Lovejoy is a loveable rogue and an antiques dealer with an amazing talent for spotting hidden treasures" do I even need to say it's a British series? Ian McShane's scene here, with his real-life wife, pretty much captures the show's vibe.

In this scene from the classic ’80s soap, we learn a little about Fallon’s background...

Thanks to Jennifer Karlin Thornton ’87 for the tip to Dynasty, and Slovenian (!) fan Martin Zupan for the specific episode.

Down and Out in Beverly Hills
Vassar as a place where a wealthy and young woman of the world in the 1980s might want to go. It’s basically a throwaway line here, and really could’ve been almost any liberal arts college.

Thanks to Margot Tarasov Cartun ’80 for the tip

Dress Gray
A TV miniseries based on the novel of the same name. The novel is set at West Point; the miniseries at the fictional U.S. Grant Military Academy, but in both, the female lead is a Vassar graduate -- the sister of a cadet who died in mysterious circumstances. Her former boyfriend, an upperclassman at the Academy, had the brother as his plebe, and suspicion falls on him. In two scenes, the boyfriend, played by a shirtless Alec Baldwin, first explores what happened with the medical officer and then in a flashback is harassing the brother in an attempt to "break him in." 

April Fool’s Day
A classic ’80s cheesy slasher film, as our heroes discover something disturbing and previously unknown about the host of their weekend retreat. Said host is wealthy and well-bred, so her Vassar status makes sense as a character point.

Thanks to Adam Cohen ’95 for the tip.

Rags to Riches
A TV movie later made into a series. It’s supposed to be the 1960s, but the whole production has a very ’80s vibe to it. Wealthy Joseph Bologna is caring for a group of orphans. Bologna’s girlfriend is not into the children and hopes to pack them off to a very exclusive boarding school. After the visit to the school, she peruses their brochure about the quality of their education and college placement record.

Black Widow
A cat-and-mouse detective movie, Debra Winger’s on the trail of a woman she believes seduces rich men, marries them, and kills them. Here she’s interviewing the secretary of the murderer’s current husband, and learning what they know about her. Vassar as character point for someone wanting to pose as well-bred and refined.

Thanks to Jim German for the tip.

Who’s That Girl?
Here’s a fun one from a Madonna vehicle, where she’s posing as Griffin Dunne’s wife for an interview with a stuffy, upper-crust panel. Dunne’s wife has been kidnapped and is being held hostage outside on the street. (Bringing Up Baby surely deserved a better remake, but this is what we have.) Vassar as character point for high-class and well-bred.

Thanks to Jess Abelson ’80 and Jeffrey Crouch ’87 for the tip.

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