It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.
This week’s musical:
Bernardine (1957) – Musical #695
20th Century Fox
Pat Boone, Terry Moore, Dick Sargent, Janet Gaynor, Dean Jagger, Ronnie Burns, James Drury, Walter Abel, Natalie Schafer, Isabel Jewell, Edit Angold (uncredited), Lavina Caparella (uncredited), Hooper Dunbar (uncredited), Ernestine Wade (uncredited), Carole Ann Campbell (uncredited)
Himself: Jack Costanzo
A group of high school seniors and friends — Arthur Beaumont (Boone), Sanford Wilson (Sargent) and Griner (Burns) — have a secret club and also have made up an imaginary dream girl, Bernardine. Sanford often strikes out on dates until he meets telephone operator Jean (Moore), saying that she is their Bernadine. Sanford’s friends double-cross his new romance.
• Last feature film of Janet Gaynor and her first film since 1938.
• First feature film of Pat Boone and Ronnie Burns.
• Robert Wagner, Hope Lange and Edd Byrnes were considered for roles in the film.
• Based on the play “Bernardine” by Mary Chase and produced by Irving L. Jacobs and Guthrie McClintic. The play was performed from Oct. 16, 1952, to Feb. 28, 1953, with John Kerr in the cast.
• Pat Boone was originally going to be cast as the character of Wilson, but it went to Dick Sergeant, according to Boone’s biographer.
• Gorgeous Technicolor
• Actress Janet Gaynor
• “Love Letters in the Sand” performed by Pat Boone
• “Bernardine” performed by Pat Boone
• “Blue Moon” performed by Jack Costanzo and His Orchestra
As the Technicolor opening credits rolled, I was charmed. Music! Technicolor! Late career Janet Gaynor!
But unfortunately, the charm and magic wore off, and the film left me feeling sad for Dick Sergeant’s character and annoyed with the high school boys.
I left this film thinking that rather than a musical feature film, it was a documentary on how high school boys are a bunch of jerks. They sabotage their friends romances and bully the nerdy character.
The film follows a group of high school boys who have an imaginary dream girl. When one of the boys finds who he thinks is the personification of this dream, his “friends” do everything they can t keep them apart.
As noted, the title “character” of Bernardine isn’t a real person — I’m truthfully not sure why this is part of the plot?
While Pat Boone receives top billing, the story really revolves around Dick Sergeant’s character, who has more screen time. Other than Sergeant’s characters, all of the teenage boys are such jerks that it’s incredibly off-putting.
While there are some quality songs in this film, Pat Boone also sings “Technique” in a calypso-style like he think he’s Harry Belafonte. It’s off-putting and he hits some pitchy notes.
While this Technicolor film left me cold, I will say it had one major highlight: seeing Janet Gaynor in her last feature film. Maybe I would have liked this more if we had seen more of her.
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