How A University Was (Kind Of) Fooled Into Letting 'Animal House' Film There
William Beaty Boyd was a vice-chancellor at UC Berkeley when the college received an interesting offer. A director wanted to shoot a movie on their campus, a comedy based on the changing sexual politics of the 1960s. It would be edgy and controversial, and if it was a hit, they might benefit from being featured in it. Berkeley turned him down, thinking the association would cause more harm than good.
That movie was The Graduate. It ended up being the highest-grossing film of 1967 and was nominated for Best Picture.
A decade later, Boyd was the president of the University of Oregon. Once again, a director asked to film at his school. This movie, too, would be a comedy set in the '60s with sexual themes, and this time, Boyd didn't let the opportunity slip through his fingers. He said yes.
This movie was Animal House. And while some would say it's one of the best comedies of all time, it isn't exactly an Oscar-y meditation on isolation and identity. It's a full-fledged sex farce. Every other college that director John Landis contacted read the script then said no, turned off by such humiliating plot points as the dean getting vomited on and his wife sleeping with a student.
Maybe the University of Oregon went on to regret the decision. At some point, they did ask Landis to keep their name out of the movie (though he was probably going to do that anyway—the movie was set on the east coast). But they don't look too ashamed of it today. They've got a big old page on their website praising the film, inviting visitors to take a campus walking tour to spot all the shooting locations.
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Top image: Universal Pictures