Cast & Crew
At Wingate High School, studious, socially inept Vernon Kinswood is teased by fellow seniors Arthur "Beau" Beaumont and Sanford "Fofo Bidnut" Wilson. After school, the boys race their jalopies to their hangout called the "Shamrock Club," an organization devoted to their interests in speed boats and their quest for a mythical dream girl named Bernardine from Sneaky Falls, Illinois. When Sanford, a clumsy, would-be Casanova, declares that he intends to take a date to see bongo king Jack Costanzo perform at the Black Cat Club, the boys decide to call the information operator once again and ask for the fictional Bernardine's phone number. After young, gullible operator 22 answers their inquiry, Sanford decides to go to the telephone office to ask her for a date. There, he meets operator 22, Jean Cantrick, who simply smiles when the seasoned operators expose the boys's ruse by explaining that Bernardine does not exist. Determined, Sanford invites Jean to join him that night, and then follows her until she accepts his invitation. Triumphant, Sanford phones Beau to tell them he has found Bernardine, and suggests checking her out at the Black Cat Club. After Beau confirms that Jean is indeed, Bernardine, Sanford invites her to watch him race his boat. Sanford's newfound bliss is shattered when his mother receives a letter from school notifying her that her son may fail to graduate unless he passes all his final exams. When Mrs. Wilson considers marrying her pompous suitor, J. Fullerton Weldy, to provide discipline for her son, Sanford pleads with his mother to reconsider and promises to devote himself to his studies for the next two weeks. After Sanford tells Beau that he needs a final "first-class fling" with Jean before sequestering himself with his books, the suave, smooth-talking Beau offers to let him drive his older brother Lee's red Thunderbird. Lee, an Air Force lieutenant stationed in Alaska, arrives home on leave just as Sanford is about to drive off in the Thunderbird and immediately reclaims his car. Relinquishing his dreams of a taking Jean to a fancy nightclub in a sporty car, Sanford settles for going on a picnic in his old jalopy. When Sanford clumsily spills coke on Jean's dress and then tries to maul her, she runs off down the road. Soon after, Lee drives by and offers her a ride. Later that night, Sanford calls to apologize and when Jean readily forgives him, he assumes that the attraction is mutual. To occupy Jean while he is studying for exams, Sanford, unaware that Lee is smitten with Jean, asks Beau to convince his older brother to date her for the next two weeks. Mrs. Wilson arranges for Vernon to tutor Sanford, but one night, fed up with studying, Sanford drops Vernon off at the library while he goes to the clubhouse. When Griner, one of the members, reports that he saw Lee romancing Jean in his Thunderbird, Sanford decides to sell his boat and buy a new car, and Beau tricks the thrifty Vernon into buying it. As exams commence, Beau and the boys escort the frazzled Sanford to school. Sanford passes his tests, but pride in his accomplishment turns to feelings of betrayal when his mother refuses to end her relationship with Weldy. Beau is delighted when Lee is recalled to duty, but his joy turns to dismay when Lee announces his plans to marry Jean before leaving. After Beau breaks the news to Sanford, Sanford drives off in a fury, runs his car off the road and then decides to enlist in the military. When Sanford informs his mother of his decision, she laments that she has failed to understand her son, who has suddenly become an adult. At Christmastime, Sanford comes home for a visit and sullenly refuses to see his old friends. When he enters his room, he finds Beau waiting to surprise him, and after the other boys join in a rendition of the song "Bernardine," Sanford smiles and hugs Beau.
Jack Costanzo And Orchestra
Carl Kent Jr.
Mary W. Wallace
Nancy Dian Ratts
L. B. Abbott
J. Fred Coots
Samuel G. Engel
Stuart A. Reiss
Walter M. Scott
Lyle R. Wheeler
The plot of Bernardine was fairly simple - a group of seniors from Wingate High, Beau Beaumont (Boone), Griner (Ronnie Burns, son of George Burns and Gracie Allen), and Sanford Wilson (future Bewitched star, Richard "Dick" Sargent), hang out in a clubhouse and invent the girl of their dreams. They call her Miss Bernardine Mudd, and pretend that she lives in the mythical town of Sneaky Falls, by the Itchy River. For fun, they prank call telephone operators to ask for her number. One of the operators, Jean Cantrick (Terry Moore) answers their call and falls for the gag, but Wilson falls for her, and his attention towards Jean puts him in danger of failing out of school. Wilson has to get his grades up, so Beau "solves" the problem by hooking up Jean with his older brother (James Drury), much to Wilson's dismay.
As early as December 1955, producer Buddy Adler was said to be attached to the film, with Fox star Robert Wagner considered for a leading role. A few months later, Hope Lange was also rumored to be signed to Bernardine, which continued to languish in development. Neither actor appeared in the final film, nor did Ed Byrnes, who made a screen test in January 1957. Boone made his screen test for Dick Sargent's role in December 1956, opposite John Barrymore, Jr., but producer Samuel G. Engel was impressed with the power of Boone's performance and gave him the stronger character of Beau, instead. Although a star, Boone was living in New Jersey, enrolled at Columbia University, and - to what must have been the horror of the Fox publicity team - a married man with three small daughters. When he was signed to make Bernardine , Boone took a leave of absence from school and moved his wife and family to California in late January.
Shot in color and in CinemaScope on the Fox lot from February 4 until March 27, 1957, Bernardine was directed by Henry Levin from a screenplay adaptation by Theodore Reeves. On the first day of filming, Levin could see that Boone was nervous, so Levin allowed a week for rehearsals and to acquaint Boone with how films were made. When not rehearsing, Boone recorded songs for the film at Fox, under famed composer/music director Alfred Newman, who called Boone "the nicest singer I've worked with." Three songs, the title track, Bernardine and Technique, written by Johnny Mercer, would become respectable hits for Boone, but a last minute addition, Love Letters in the Sand (which had already been recorded by Bing Crosby) would become Boone's biggest hit, going gold, with four to five million record sales according to Boone.
Bernardine was, by all accounts, a happy shoot, with the cast working well together and enjoying each other's company. Sargent later remembered that he and Boone "worked together all day, and then they'd invite me over for dinner. [...] I hate to use the word 'normal' when I refer to Pat, because it makes him sound so unimaginative and colorless. Believe me, he's anything but! He's just naturally a fellow who takes each thing as it comes, refuses to involve himself and make himself miserable. It's such a healthy attitude and it reflects on everyone around him." Pat couldn't miss being a hit in Bernardine. Fox was so pleased with Boone's performance in the daily rushes that they picked up the option in his contract for a second film after only six weeks.
Boone was a hit when the film opened in New York on July 24, 1957, after a premiere in Denver, and the film ended up in the top twenty box office draws for 1957. The critics found it lightweight but enjoyable, even The New York Times critic Bosley Crowther, who wrote, "Move over, Elvis Presley. And welcome, Pat Boone, his exact antithesis [...] a sunny, clean-cut youth of manly mien and fine voice--with a real screen future, in a wholesome, pleasant comedy about adolescence. As much as we hate to say so however, Mary Chase's stage play was better. [...] The play was funny, tough-minded and tender all at once. The Hollywood refurbishment is attractive but superficial. [...] [T]he trumped-up plot by scenarist Theodore Reeves (Miss Chase just didn't bother) has most of the cast coddling the gang's least winning member, a selfish numskull with a case of the sulks. [...] The original cutting edge of Bernardine is gone, but on the whole, you still couldn't find a nicer bunch of people."
The AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Kibbey, Richard Pat Boone: The Hollywood Years
Crowther, Bosley "'Bernardine' Introduces Pat Boone Here" The New York Times 25 Jul 57
Rowan, Terry Bikini, Surfing, & Beach Party Movies
By Lorraine LoBianco
Hollywood Reporter news items yield the following information about this production: In December 1955, Buddy Adler was announced as producer and Robert Wagner was considered for a leading role. A March 1956 item notes that Hope Lange was to appear in the picture. In January 1957, Ed Byrnes tested for one of the leads, but was not cast. Although a September 1956 item states that Bernardine was to mark Judy Busch's screen debut, her appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. According to a March 26, 1957 Hollywood Reporter item, the song "Love Letters in the Sand" was added to the film at the end of production. Bernardine marked the screen debuts of Pat Boone and Ronnie Burns, the son of George Burns and Gracie Allen. It also marked Janet Gaynor's return to the screen after an almost ten-year absence.
Released in United States Summer July 1957
Released in United States Summer July 1957