Tuesday, November 04, 2008

cinema obscura: Blake Edwards' "High Time" (1960)

A predecessor to the Rodney Dangerfield-Alan Metter collaboration "Back to School" (1986), Blake Edwards' jaunty, enjoyable "High Time" (1960), based on a story by Garson Kanin, gets a rare showing on HBO Signature at 6:15 a.m. (est) on Saturday, November 8th.

Bing Crosby plays a widower and successful restaurateur who decides, at age 51, to finally get a college education, also electing to live in a dorm with the rest of the guys - much to the chagrin of his grown son and daughter (Nina Shipman and Angus Duncan, respectively).

After a bumpy start, he assimilates into campus life, making fast friends with fellow students Tuesday Weld, Richard Beymer, Fabian, Patrick Adiarte, Jimmy Boyd and Yvonne Craig - and finding some satisfying middle-aged love the second time around (cue for the Henry Mancini song of the same title) with French teacher Professor Gautier (Nicole Maurey).

Gavin MacLeod, who would have a memorable part in Edwards' "The Party" (1968), as well as "Operation Petticoat" (1959), has a role here as one of the college's professors.

Cinema Obscura is a recurring feature of The Passionate Moviegoer, devoted to those films that have been largely forgotten. Suggestions welcome.

(Artwork: Tuesday Weld and Fabian; Bing Crosby with Richard Beymer and Weld))


Cynthia said...

What a find. I love this Movie! Thanks.

Daryl Chin said...

HIGH TIME had been making the rounds on Fox Movie Channel in a very nice letterboxed print. (Last year, it was a perennial, but it's gone the way of BERNADINE and APRIL LOVE, i.e., not showing up in the last six months or so.)

joe baltake said...


Does the Fox Movie Channel usually show its films letterboxed? I'm wondering if "Mardi Gras" as presented that way when it appeared on Fox. If so, it would be worth subscribing just to see these long lost films in their original form.

jbryant said...

Joe: I'm not daryl obviously, but in my experience, Fox Movie Channel usually shows widescreen films letterboxed. All the more reason I was disappointed when I recorded Richard Fleischer's "These Thousand Hills" and found that it reverted to Pan and Scan after the opening credits. I haven't checked subsequent airings to see if they fixed the problem.

joe baltake said...


I have a vague recollection of you mentioning the "These Thousand Hills" incident on Dave Kehr's blog, if I'm correct. I remember because that's a favorite film of mine. Disappointing. I guess Fix can be as catch-as, catch-can as other outlets. Still, its widescreen library should be letterboxed in its entirety.

Daryl Chin said...

The Fox Movie Channel schedule usually will note whether a film is being shown wide-screen or not. And it would seem that a lot of times, what Fox Movie Channel will do is show whatever is in their vaults already on tape, i.e., the master tapes sent to television stations in the 1950s and 1960s. This was the case with the 1954 BLACK WIDOW, which Fox Movie Channel played a lot last year in a pan-and-scan version (with very faded color).

Then what happened was that BLACK WIDOW was restored in preparation for the DVD release, and this digitized version (which was letterboxed) replaced the old pan-and-scan tape master.

It's not so much hit-and-miss as it is availability. BIGGER THAN LIFE is not available on DVD in this country, but it is available in France and in England (in a great British Film Institute package), and the digital master (obviously letterboxed) had to be leased from 20th Century Fox, so that has been shown.

But the Fox Movie Channel schedule does indicate whether a movie is shown letterboxed or not. (I just finished watching THE BOTTOM OF THE BOTTLE, Henry Hathaway's 1956 Cinemascope drama; it was supposed to be letterboxed, and it was.) But sometimes, there's a mistake. (I also have had the experience of turning in to something that was supposed to be in widescreen and then seeing the pan-and-san version after the credits.)