In April 1978, I heard through the grapevine that Arnie Sultan was in the process of rebooting the Get Smart TV series, I managed to arrange a meeting with him at his office in Universal Studios to offer my services. The reboot never happened, but we had a nice conversation, and Sultan’s office partner, Bill Dana (My name, José Jiménez) wandered through so I got to meet him briefly, too.

Sultan was just finishing up production on a movie project he seemed pretty excited about. He gave me a copy of the script to read to see what I thought. I was underwhelmed, but he was Arnie Sultan. Here is the analysis I wrote up about that project.

Movie screenplay review: Animal House (1978)

DATE MAY 5, 1978

SHORT SYNOPSIS: Two college freshmen, KENT DORFMAN and LARRY KROGER, are rejected by every fraternity at EBERHARD-FABER COLLEGE but one, and DELTA HOUSE only accepts them because Kent’s older brother used to be a pledge there. Delta, however, proves to be the worst house on campus. Under the influence of their Brothers, their grades and moral gradually deteriorate, and the two become involved in several misadventures which eventually result in their expulsion and the revocation of the Delta House charter. With their Brothers, they come up with a plan to get even with the college and the other frat houses, and go out in style.

SYNOPSIS: Freshmen KENT DORFMAN and LARRY KROGER together rush every fraternity at EBERHARD-FABER COLLEGE with hopes of being pledged. They are less-than-desirable material, however (nerds, to be exact), and are turned down by every frat house but one: DELTA HOUSE, the worst on campus. On the strength of the fact that Kent’s brother was once a Delta pledge, the two are accepted and are given the nicknames of FLOUNDER and PINTO, respectively, by their new Brothers, BLUTO, MOUNTAIN, HOOVER, TUBE, OTTER, BOON, D-DAY, HOSS, STORK, and MOTHBALL.

Not only is Delta the worst house on campus, but it has among its adversaries DEAN WORMER, who has put the house on double secret probation. Flounder, meanwhile, runs afoul of GREGG MARMALARD, a BMOC, who makes life miserable for the freshman. Encouraged by his Brothers, Flounder attempts to get even with Gregg, but the plan backfires when he and his cohorts kill Gregg’s ROTC horse by accident. They aren’t caught but are suspected, and it is another black mark against the house.

In a meeting at the house after finals, it is realized that everyone at Delta has done rather poorly, and it is decided that the annual Delta House. Toga Party will help cheer them up. As usual, the party gets a little out of hand, and Otter winds up with Dean Wormer’s wife, MARION, while Pinto manages to get caught in a compromising position with the mayor’s daughter, CLORETTE. As a result, the house is hauled before the Disciplinary Board, and the house charter is revoked.

In a devil-may-care moment, Otter and Boon take the Lincoln that Flounder borrowed from his brother for the Toga Party, and go for a joy ride that demolishes the car.

When the finals’ scores come in, the members of Delta House are expelled for low grades by a triumphant Dean Wormer. At the same time, womanizing Otter is lured into a trap by a jealous Gregg and beat senseless by a gang of Beta House thugs. In keeping with the get even philosophy, the Delta Brothers decide that they should stage one last gesture against the status quo; the total destruction of the Homecoming Parade.

COMMENT: The idea of a college comedy set in the good old days is certainly not a new one, but with the current nostalgia craze, it could prove popular.

The actual mechanics of the script, however, are cumbersome. The personalities, while necessarily exaggerated, somehow come off as bland, and there are several instances in which cliches are thrown out shamelessly, with the expectation that they will justify the actions taking place on screen. For the most part, the visual gags and many of the situational gags are of the type that one would expect to see in a Disney movie, but the amount of sex precludes this type of treatment. Also, the bizarre handling of the destruction scene at the end is inconsistent with the tone set at the beginning of the movie. All in all, while the movie stays away from being embarrassingly stupid, it suffers from the lack of a strong premise.

Release date: 28 Jul 1978 (