Professors Charles Osman (Marc Connelly) and Leon Sullivan (Ray Walston) don’t know what’s about to hit them at the beginning of a new semester at Custer College.
That “what” is a new student, June Ryder (Jane Fonda), who mows the men down on her bicycle on her first day on campus. As fate would have it, June was looking for the two men, anyway. She wants to choose one of their classes as an elective for the spring semester.
Charles’ science course and Leon’s ethics course couldn’t be any more different, but June isn’t really concerned with the material. She’s come to campus to find herself a tall husband, and has her eye on basketball star Ray Blent (Anthony Perkins), who is enrolled in both of the classes.
June decides to enroll in both classes, beginning her quest to win Ray’s heart. But for Ray, the romance could mean trouble.
Tall Story was directed by Joshua Logan.
There’s no guessing which era this film comes from, especially once it’s revealed that June chose her college based on the height of its male attendees. The premise is wacky and, by today’s standards, sexist.
Weirdly, though, I kind of enjoyed the film. I chose to watch it solely for the actors involved, and it isn’t a film I went into expecting to love. But Fonda sells her character’s quest with plenty of confidence, and I actually got a few laughs out of it (see: the elephant discussion/babysitting scene).
Perkins plays his character with a nervous edge — a contrast to Fonda, who makes her big screen debut with a strong sense of self-assuredness.
Things only get sillier and sillier as the film moves along. Protests break out on campus when usually squeaky-clean, straight-A Ray flunks a test and will be forced to sit out of a big, important game. And then, there’s a whole twist to the plot involving gambling!
Hinging on that “M-r-s. degree” premise, the film is never as funny as it wants to be, even in its best moments. Like I mentioned above, though, I tuned in for the actors. And I would recommend the film for fans of Fonda or Perkins, to see them share the screen and a few fun scenes.