Affairs of Dobie Gillis The (1953)

Affairs of Dobie Gillis The (1953)

Directed by Don Weis this Max Shulman screenplay and story was made into a cute light early 1950’s Musical comedy by pairing Debbie Reynolds with Bobby Van and Barbara Ruick with Bob Fosse as college kids on the campus of Grainbelt University (obviously a Midwestern locale). The most memorable musical number is the oft-repeated “All I Do Is Dream of You” (the whole day through) which Reynolds had just performed jumping out of a cake for Gene Kelly the previous year in Singin’ in the Rain (1952). Reynolds’s character alternately appears to pronounce Gillis’s name as either Dobie or Dopey which seems more appropriate. Followed by a TV series with Dwayne Hickman and Bob Denver before he became TV’s Gilligan.

Pansy Hammer (Reynolds) enters college with the university’s motto “work work work learn learn learn” drummed into her head by her protective father (Hanley Stafford). That is until she meets Dobie Gillis (Van) who’s come to college to have fun. Not so slowly as surely he convinces her to adopt his carefree way. Ruick plays another girl instantly stuck on Dobie who’s pursued and eventually learns to love Gillis’s roommate Charlie Trask (Fosse). Hans Conried plays an amusingly arrogant English professor; Charles Lane plays a chemistry teacher. The young couple gets in real trouble after they start skipping classes to be together and Pansy for the umpteenth time blows up the chemistry lab when they’re trying to makeup their work.

After this last incident against the protests of his wife (Lurene Tuttle actress Ruick’s real mother) and daughter Pansy’s father decides to separate the two lovebirds by sending his daughter to a college in New York where she’ll live with her Aunt (Almira Sessions). Charles Halton appears uncredited as the Dean of Grainbelt University. So Dobie and his two friends try to figure out a way for him to make a trip to see Pansy in New York. After a failed book buying scheme (Percy Helton appears uncredited in the campus bookstore) brought about by Gillis’s own plagiarism Dobie finally ends up convincing the near defunct campus magazine manager (Archer MacDonald) out of $1000 so that he can go to New York to hire a big-named band for a dance to save it. Since he spends almost half the money wining and dining Pansy in the Big Apple he can only afford to hire “Happy Stella” Kowalski (Kathleen Freeman) and her German quintet. But this is a musical comedy with some dancing by Van et al so naturally everything will work out in the end … after all human nature means everyone rushes to see a train wreck (and will pay for the privilege) right?

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