High Time(Twilight Time Blu-ray)
Directors - Blake Edwards
Cast - Bing Crosby, Fabian, Tuesday Weld
Country of Origin - U.S.
Discs - 1
Distributor - Twilight Time
Reviewer - Bobby Morgan
The Film: 3/5
Harvey Howard (Bing Crosby) owns a popular nationwide chain of restaurants and is a very wealthy man, but he always regretted never going to college after graduating from high school in 1929. Thirty years later he enrolls at a southern university to complete his education. Although none of the faculty or students seem to take Harvey seriously at first he eventually becomes accepted by his roommates Gil Sparrow (Fabian), Bob Bannerman (Richard Beymer), and T.J. Padmanagham (Patrick Adiarte), and their mutual female friend and fellow student Joy Elder (Tuesday Weld). Harvey wastes no time in ingratiating himself into the college experience, from organizing freshmen bonfires to pledging fraternities. In his spare time he romances French teacher Helene Gauthier (Nicole Maurey) and helps tutor his roommates for the year-end exams, all the while occasionally infuriating his fussy biology professor Thayer (Gavin MacLeod).
High Time started out as a comedy called Big Daddy which was to have starred Gary Copper until the actor’s declining health forced him to bow out of the project, paving the way for Bing Crosby, one of that era’s biggest movie stars but known more for his iconic singing voice than for his skills as an actor, to take his place as the lead. Blake Edwards, the future director of the Pink Panther movies and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, signed on to call the shots with popular teen idols of the time like Tuesday Weld, Richard Beymer, and Fabian cast in the vital supporting roles. So if you are looking for a challenging and honest portrayal of collegiate life at the dawn of a decade that brought about major social and political change in the United States take my advice and look elsewhere. High Time is a harmless, inoffensive concoction with the intellectual consistency of cotton candy. After all, the star is Bing Crosby, and Bing was not exactly known for his tastes in thought-provoking scripts. He was the kind of movie star movies were usually written for with plots constructed in ways to allow for the classic crooner to belt out a few of his beloved tunes and flash his baby blues at the ladies. Crosby gets to do a little of both in High Time but not as much as he and his fans were used to. Fortunately he manages to put his low-key screen presence to good use and the screenplay by Tom and Frank Waldman gives him plenty of witty dialogue to chew on, leading to a pretty relaxed and confident performance from Bing.
Crosby’s younger co-stars fare pretty well despite lacking genuine depth in their characters. They are all there basically to support Harvey and every so often display additional character traits. Only Tuesday Weld would go on to have a substantial acting career but the better roles would not start coming her way until nearly ten years after the release of High Time. Future Batgirl Yvonne Craig is on hand to offer some more female eye candy as a spunky college reporter who sees a real story in Harvey’s search for higher education. Gavin MacLeod provides the lion’s share of the movie’s comic relief as the goofily uptight Professor Thayer, full of exaggerated comedic gestures and popping double takes. I would not be the least bit surprised if the late Stephen Stucker modeled his performance as the borderline insane airport control worker Johnny in the Airplane! movies. Although the story lacks any kind of dramatic conflict, except towards the end when Harvey and Professor Gauthier’s romance is threatened by the college’s strict rules against faculty dating students only to be resolved less than a minute later, the pace remains steady and Edwards tosses in plenty of visually inventive scene transitions to show the passing of each year of Harvey’s education.
High Time is presented in a 2.35:1 widescreen transfer remastered in 1080p high-definition. The quality of the picture here is superb and features a modest amount of grain and not a trace of noticeable print damage. The colors are bright without calling too much attention to themselves in the outdoor scenes, while in the interior scenes they are muted properly. The English DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0 soundtrack might make your speakers rattle occasionally if you are watching the movie on a standard television set without a home theater set-up but once you adjust the volume the music score and songs sound wonderful. Since the dialogue is often spoken in soft tones you might want to keep your remote control handy. No subtitles are provided.
Henry Mancini’s jazzy music score gets its very own isolated audio track in two-channel mono and it sounds fantastic when separated from the film’s other aural components. A scratchy theatrical trailer and a catalogue for other Twilight Time DVD and Blu-ray titles round out the extra features. The movie also comes with a booklet of liner notes written by Julie Kirgo that provides extensive background information into the production of High Time.
Brimming with style and verbal and visual humor, High Time is a sweet little treat that makes for an enjoyable way to wile away a few spare hours. Twilight Time resurrects one of Blake Edwards’ most underrated earlier films and gives it a terrific new transfer, but damn their absurd price tags for these limited edition Blu-rays. I would not expect anybody but the most devoted fans of Edwards’ filmography to pay nearly $60 for a disc with almost no worthwhile supplements.