True blue
Starring: Rob Lowe, Julian Sands, Ally Sheedy, Amanda Pays
Director: Robert Boris
Year of release: 1984
Country: USA
screen shots

(click to enlarge)
Plot summary
Oxford Blues is an update of the 1938 movie a Yank at Oxford and sticks to a formula popular at the time -- to place a brash American among genteel Englishmen and, most particularly, Englishwomen.

The Yank would invariably make a botch of things initially, displaying poor manners and a lack of respect for the traditions of the motherland. But he was good at heart, so would always win out in the end and be warmly accepted by the Brits.

Rob Lowe, plays Vegas car park attendent Nick Di Angelo, who has fallen in love with a young English noblewoman at Oxford, Lady Victoria, after reading about her in various magazines. With the help of some minor computer hacking and a wealthy older woman he secures himself a place at Oriel college, Oxford -- planning to stalk her until she falls in love with him.

There are, of course, complications, involving her fiancee and some enemies Lowe makes early on. Seems, however, that he's a 'fine' sculler, though he doesn't want do crew boats (does not play well with others). He eventually makes the oriel bluejackets (rowing clique) and ends up stroking the VIII - beacuse of course you always put scullers who've never sweep rowed in the stroke seat...?

Will he let the side down for a night of shagging with Lady Victoria? Well, of course he will -- he's a brash American, isn't he?

Will he be able to redeem himself?

Will he row in the big grudge match against Harvard?

Will he wind up with the sophisticated English girl or the wholesome American girl who's coxswain for his crew (that stroke / cox relationship thing again)?

Do I really need to answer any of those questions?

Rowing info
There is quite a lot of rowing in Oxford Blues, actually, there's quite a lot of sculling - which is pretty unusual as nobody at Oxford university sculls (well, apart from a few weirdos).

The start of the movie shows Nic out sculling with his father, after which he carries both sets of blades off announcing "see you later" and apparently leaving his pa to put both sculling boats away on his own - nice bloke.

Turning up at Oriel, Di Angelo gets given the "rowing room" - obviously they're very honoured to have someone who's done a year of sculling at the university of Nevada???? you would kind of expect the boat club captain to be in it... but no.

The classic moment in Oxford Blues is when our hero turns up at the start of a sculling race - nicks some Wadham bloke's sculling boat and leaps in to row to victory - leaps in wearing jeans and a leather jacket that is - and bearing in mind how tight Jeans were in 1983 - that's gotta to do some damage...

Those aquainted with Oxford who have sharp eyes, will notice that the races starts down at Radley and finishes two minutes later in front of the old OUBC boathouse. Oh and the hero's amazing finishing sprint occurs just after he miraculously switches to using Catz sculls somewhere on the Green Bank.

Another titbit of note is that Rob Lowe's sculling body double was then OUBC President Lynton Richmond, complete with wig and leather jacket - a useful disguise as he's now one of the Henley Stewards.... ahem

Later in the film, shuttle runs holding blades above heads are an interesting touch and there's also a rather bizarre scene when the American is stroking the Oriel VIII wearing a sweatshirt with "Vegas" on the back, whilst the rest of the crew have Oriel tops that all say "England" in curley olde-englishy font - Oriel rowers occasionally act like they're all members of the GB squad, maybe this explains why they are so deluded... (on the plus side - I can happily report that the crew is refreshingly free of white lycra...)

In the final race scene against Harvard, Lowe has a traditional rowing movie "Gate incident" (I believe they're obligitory if you want to have any rowing in a film), when his scull pops out mid race he, of course, simply puts it back in and they go on to victory then burn their wooden double - again rather odd as boat-burning takes place only after eights, not normally after ad hoc grudge matches against Harvard.

back to the movies