Because They're Young

Because They're Young is a 1960 film from Columbia Pictures, starring Dick Clark as Neil Hendry, an American high school teacher who tries to make a difference in the lives of his students. The film co-starred Tuesday Weld, Michael Callan, Warren Berlinger, Roberta Shore, Doug McClure, and Victoria Shaw. It was directed by Paul Wendkos. The screenplay was based on Harrison High, a novel by John Farris.

Because They're Young
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPaul Wendkos
Produced byJerry Bresler
Written byJames Gunn
Based onHarrison High
by John Farris
StarringDick Clark
Music byJohn Williams
CinematographyWilfred M. Cline
Edited byChester W. Schaeffer
Drexel Productions
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • April 1960 (1960-04)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited States

Musicians Duane Eddy and James Darren had cameo roles in the movie, whose title song became the biggest hit record of Eddy's career. Though not appearing himself, Bobby Rydell's "Swingin' School" was featured prominently in the movie's soundtrack.


A crusading high school teacher tries to help his troubled students.



Original Novel

The novel Harrison High was published in 1959 when John Farris, the author, was 22.[1] He wrote it when 20 while a student at the University of Missouri; it was based on his high school experiences in Memphis, Tennessee. ("Harrison High" though was fictional.)[2]

The New York Times book reviewer said it was like "an interminable adolescent bull session."[3]


Film rights were bought by the Drexel Film Corporation in April 1959, who arranged to make the film through Columbia. Dick Clark, host of American Bandstand, signed to play the lead.[4]

Jerry Bresler who had a multi-picture deal with Columbia, was assigned to produce and he hired James Gunn to write a script.[5] Paul Wendkos signed to direct in June.[6]

"Most pictures about teenagers are wrong," said Clark. "They are older people's concepts of how teenagers act... I doubt if there ever can be a truly honest portrayal in films. Not all girls are beautiful and all boys handsome, as they are in films... [But] the script is fairly true to life. Most teenagers are normal."[7]

The cast included several young actors under contract to Columbia including Michael Callan. Warren Berlinger had just been in Blue Denim.


Filming started 12 August 1959.[8]

The campus and classroom scenes were shot at Hoover High School in Glendale, California; most of that school's buildings were later torn down and replaced with a more contemporary look in the mid-1960s to comply with California's building codes for schools.

Clark later wrote in his memoirs that making the film was "an extraordinary experience. Columbia really laid it on; they rented a house in Bel-Air owned by Mercedes McCambridge, provided a maid, a butler and a chauffeur, and gave me a hundred dollars a day in expenses." While in Los Angeles he presented a show, "A Salute to Dick Clark".[9]


The Los Angeles Times called the film "an agreeable surprise."[10]

The film did not make Varietys list of top earners for 1960.[11]


  1. Sullivan, R. (1959, Mar 15). Grubby paths thru sensation. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) Retrieved from
  2. By, L. N. (1959, Apr 19). IN AND OUT OF BOOKS. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  3. Levin, M. (1959, Apr 26). Dating and mating. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  4. Dick clark to make film debut; cannes festival entries listed. (1959, Apr 29). New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  5. Scheuer, P. K. (1959, May 28). Yvette ideal girl of distant future. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  6. FILMLAND EVENTS: Wendkos to Direct 'Harrison High' Los Angeles Times 5 June 1959: A9.
  7. Thomas, B. (1959, Oct 18). Potentate of the clark cult. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) Retrieved from
  8. Entertainment Films Stage Music: 'Blue Denim' Pair Cast at Columbia Los Angeles Times 12 Aug 1959: C7.
  9. Clark, Dick (1976). Rock, roll & remember. Crowell. p. 249.
  10. Film Ponders Ways of Youth: 'They're Young' Forms an Agreeable Surprise Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times 13 Mar 1960: I1.
  11. "Rental Potentials of 1960". Variety. 4 January 1961. p. 47.
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