CLASS OF ’44 is the decent, underrated 1973 follow-up to the 1971 hit Summer Of ’42. Here, ‘Hermie’ and ‘Oscy’ (Gary Grimes & Jerry Houser) are off to college, while fall-guy ‘Benjie’ (Oliver Conant) joins the Marines and goes off to fight the Japanese.
Quite nostalgic, with fine atmosphere of the period coming through in the props, costumes, settings and attitudes. At college the two pals encounter frats, pledging, hazing, Women and eventually even some inkling of Real Life ahead.
Most of the movie, directed & produced by Paul Bogart, written by Herman Raucher, is light comedy, and mostly pretty good. I recall it was a riot to watch with an appreciate crowd. A certain amount of drama makes it way in, too, and there are some touching moments, heightened by David Shire’s fine music score and Andrew Laszlo’s crack lensing.
Grimes is once again excellent as the decent but fumbling guy many men—especially from that generation—could relate to, and Houser neatly reprises his wiseacre role as best buddy. They’re a likable pair. Deborah Winters is engaging as the romantic interest and William Atherton makes a perfect frat-rat.
Critics dismissed it. Box office was in the area of $10,000,000. With Sam Bottoms, Joe Ponazecki and an uncredited 23-year old kid named John Candy, in his feature debut.