Affairs of Dobie Gillis, The: Don Weis’ Comedy-Musical, Starring Debbie Reynolds and Bob Fosse

From Our Vaults:

Don Weis directed The Affairs of Dobie Gillis, a middling comedy-musical, based on the short stories by Max Shulman collected as “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis” (also the title of the later TV series).

Bobby Van played Gillis in this musical version, co-starring with Debbie Reynolds and Bob Fosse.

The movie was shot in black and white, MGM’s first non-color musical film in years.

At Grainbelt University, a Midwestern university, freshmen Dobie Gillis (Bobby Van) and Charlie Trask (Bob Fosse) court coeds Pansy Hammer (Debbie Reynolds) and Lorna Ellingboe (Barbara Ruick).

They attend the same courses because Lorna is pursuing Dobie, who is pursuing Pansy, and Charlie is pursuing Lorna.

The studious Pansy is encouraged by her father George (Hanley Stafford) to “learn learn learn” and “work work work,” while Dobie, Charlie and Lorna want to have fun.

Pansy’s father can’t stand Dobie and does everything in his power to keep them apart.

Dobie and Pansy blow up the chemistry lab, but Dobie is spared expulsion because English professor Pomfritt (Hans Conried) is misled to believe that the feckless Gillis is a literary genius.

Pansy is sent to a school in New York after the chemistry lab incident.

With the help of Charlie and Lorna, Dobie figures out a way of getting Pansy back to Grainbelt.

The original plan was to turn the film into a series, along the lines of the Andy Hardy and Dr. Kildare franchise, if the film was successful.

The film was Bob Fosse’s film debut, released before Give a Girl a Break, which had been shot previously.

The film earned $423,000 in the US and Canada and $154,000 elsewhere, resulting in a loss of $131,000.

Bobby Van as Dobie Gillis, a freshman
Debbie Reynolds as Pansy Hammer
Bob Fosse as Charlie Trask, a freshman
Barbara Ruick as Lorna
Hans Conried as Prof. Pomfritt
Hanley Stafford as George Hammer, Pansy’s father
Lurene Tuttle as Mrs. Eleanor Hammer
Charles Lane as Chemistry Professor Obispo
Archer MacDonald as Harry Dorcas
Kathleen Freeman as ‘Happy Stella’ Kowalski
Almira Sessions as Aunt Naomi
Charles Halton as Dean (Granbelt University)


TCM showed the movie on September 1, 2021.