Bernardine (film)

Bernardine is a 1957 American musical film directed by Henry Levin and starring Pat Boone, Terry Moore, Dean Jagger, Dick Sargent, and (in her last film, after a 19-year absence) Janet Gaynor. The 1952 play upon which the movie is based was written by Mary Coyle Chase, the Denver playwright who also wrote the smash hit Broadway play Harvey. The title song, with words and music by Johnny Mercer, became a hit record for Boone.

Directed byHenry Levin
Produced bySamuel G. Engel
Written by
Music by
CinematographyPaul Vogel
Edited byDavid Bretherton
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • July 24, 1957 (1957-07-24)
Running time
95 min.
CountryUnited States
Budget$1.23 million[1]
Box office$3.75 million (US rentals) [2]


At Wingate High School, Vernon Kinswood (Hooper Dunbar), Arthur "Beau" Beaumont (Pat Boone) and Sanford "Fofo Bidnut" Wilson (Dick Sargent) race cars and boats, hang out at an after school place called the "Shamrock Club," and love a mythical dream girl named Bernardine from Sneaky Falls, Idaho.

Sanford declares he intends to take a date to see bongo king Jack Costanzo perform at the Black Cat Club. The boys call the information operator once again and ask for the fictional Bernardine's phone number. A young operator, Jean (Terry Moore), answers the phone and so Sanford goes to the telephone office to ask her for a date. Jean accepts.

Sanford's romance is threatened when his mother (Janet Gaynor) threatens to get married.



Buddy Adler of 20th Century Fox bought the film rights in 1955 as a vehicle for Robert Wagner.[3] The film, however, was reworked as a vehicle for Pat Boone. In 1956 Boone was one of the biggest music artists in the US. Several movie studios pursued him and Adler was successful, signing him to a multi-picture contract with Fox. Bernardine was to be his first film.[4]

Boone tested for the roles of both Beaumont and Sanford. He was eventually cast as Beaumont - the role played on stage by John Kerr.[5][6] Dick Sargent received his first important screen role as Sanford.[7] (Edd Byrnes reportedly also tested for the role.[8]) Janet Gaynor was lured out of retirement to co-star as Sanford's mother.

Filming on Bernardine started February 4, 1957 and was completed on March 27, 1957.[9]



TV Guide called Bernardine "... Fox's answer to the Presley films. Boone, who first achieved national recognition on Arthur Godfrey's TV show, is the white on white hero, one of several young and definitely unsleazy students who create a mythical girl named Bernardine that they would all love to love."[10]

According to Diabolique magazine it was "weird" that Dick Sergeant played the lead role rather than Boone. "This weird casting decision was presumably made so as not to burden Pat too much on his first time out. After all, in Love Me Tender, Elvis plays a supporting role to Richard Egan. Later, in Hound Dog Man (1959), Fabian would support Stuart Whitman. But those were good parts. Pat Boone’s role is lousy. The main thing he does in the movie is sing (including “Love Letters in the Sand” which became a huge hit) and introduce an elder brother (James Drury) who runs off with Terry Moore. Boone's presence even throws the movie off a little. He gets screen time his character doesn't deserve, and when he sings love songs — despite not having an on-screen love interest — it feels weird."[11]

See also



  1. Solomon 1989, p. 251.
  2. Solomon 1989, p. 227.
  3. Hopper, Hedda. "Looking at Hollywood: Bob Cumming's wife buys story; Two studios want it." Chicago Daily Tribune, September 14, 1955, p. B6.
  4. Hopper, Hedda. "Bidding is hot as Pat Boone signs multi-movie contract." Chicago Daily Tribune, November 16, 1956. p. A4.
  5. Chapman, John. "Mary Chase's latest comedy a real delight." Chicago Daily Tribune, October 18, 1952, P. A3.
  6. Schallert, Edwin. " 'Ski Lift' potential for Melchior, Barker; 'Actor' named for trio." Los Angeles Times, December 24, 1956, p. A7.
  7. Schallert, Edwin. " 'Twilight for Gods' big picture purchase; Gia Scala to lure Taylor." Los Angeles Times, February 4, 1957, p. C9.
  8. "Movieland events; Film will show new route to Everest." Los Angeles Times, January 29, 1957, p. 20.
  9. Schallert, Edwin. "Dean Jagger romances Gaynor; Deal to join Fairbanks and Dragon." Los Angeles Times, January 24, 1957, p. C9.
  10. "Review: 'Bernadine'." TV Guide. Retrieved: November 27, 2016.
  11. Vagg, Stephen (10 September 2019). "The Surprisingly Interesting Cinema of Pat Boone". Diabolique Magazine.


  • Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1.
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