The Girls of Canby Hall #2 Our Roommate is Missing – Boarding School loyalty vs the shenanigans of 1987 Pretty Smart


The Girls of Canby Hall #2 Our Roomate is Missing Emily Chase


* Gave myself a treat and read this book the other day.  But just to let you know – before I discuss it –  1. I never read this series as a child.  2. When I attempted to read one book – The Almost Summer Carnival ( super edition ) I couldn’t get into it.
*The reasons are bizarre –  when you open a typical Girls of Canby Hall book it is full of paragraphs seemingly endless descriptions –


 – now open a typical Babysitters club book ,which,  though has it’s share of paragraphs is littered with conversations.


  I was hooked by their broken up format and quickly became a snob – I didn’t read anything outside of the format( with the exception of Stepsisters and Junior High ) Also I could never get past the feeling that Andy and Toby’s names should’ve been switched – Andy always brings to mind redheads ( railed into me perhaps by Pink in Pink’s gender upheaval Molly as Andie , Andrew McCarthy as Blaine ) and though I now feel the girls names suit them I have never before seen a more boring set of names :Andy , Toby , Jane. Forget about their romantic origins of Andrea and October they were never called by them!
* Okay now that I’ve got that out of my system on to the book #2 Our Roommate is Missing
by Mary Francis Shura ( under the umbrella of Emily Chase )
* I’ve been holding onto this copy relishing it’s discovery for a few months now – when I first started collecting books a couple years back I managed to snag almost the entire Canby Hall series – and knocked off the books one-two-three , I felt desperate to fill in the gaps ( I have only three left to fill #’s 21 , 32 and 33 ) – I wanted more of Faith and Shelley and Dana , More of Andy , Toby and Jane. So when I found this one – I kept it like a future journey to be taken ….when I needed a lift!
* Yesterday was the day and it did not disappoint!

* Kidnapping wasn’t a particularly original idea for a series – the soaps had been doing them – even Different Strokes had an exciting kidnapping episode – though they did beat out Sweet Valley High’s twist on the theme by perhaps six months – Girls of Canby Hall was published in 1983 , SVH’s Kidnapped in April , 1984.  I won’t get into a super long comparison as I could rip apart Kidnapped and I don’t really want to do that.  Mainly because this book holds a special spot on my list of favorites – it was one of the hardest Svh books to get my hands on when I was twelve. I had to special order it and wait for it to come in.

* In SVH’s #13 – Kidnapped – lovable Liz is tied to a chair and forced to eat frozen pancakes by an ardent psycho,  pretty exciting stuff until you realize how dry it is compared to Shelley’s ordeal – in fact SVH’s kidnapping is about as stale as Carl’s cooking.  For one thing Mary Francis Shura decides to give a reason why Shelley ( of all people ) is kidnapped – one filled with some good twists. First of all Shelley wasn’t even the target – but Casey Flint – and even then it’s not for the usual ransom. No turns out her parents are jet setting art buyers who found themselves in the market to buy well done copies of original works of art for the clients who can’t afford to buy the original and know their fakes and brought them back to the states only to have them stolen. Though peeved – they returned to Europe hoping to replace the stolen work of art. A trip to the museum for some artist inspiration – which copies to request they found themselves staring at a copy in the museum and realized they’d been roped into a swindle. They had been smuggling stolen originals into the states which the thieves would steal back and replace the missing artwork – in museums with fakes. The Flints had agreed to help build a case against the thieves and have had to lie low in Europe. The thieves took , who they thought was Casey Flint to ensure the Flint’s refused to testify at the upcoming trial. Whew – compare that with – Liz is kidnaped because pathetic Carl an orderly has a fatal attraction.
* Here’s the good stuff – Casey had been mimicking Shelley driving her bonkers since Christmas, copying her look right down to make-up and hairstyle. Worse , when her parents call to tell Casey they won’t be coming to the Parent Alumnae weekend – they’re too busy dodging bullets in Europe – and that her Aunt Edie is coming instead , she throws a super fit and foists the
task of entertaining her Aunt on Shelley. How you may ask? Shelley annoyed with Casey’s temper tantrum and hoping to shame her ( after all her parents couldn’t afford to come and she’s not demolishing her room ) she offers to show her around. It’s one of those reverse psychology things. Which of course with Casey backfires – she says “All right Miss Goody Two Shoes , her name is Edie Flint , and she’ll be staying at the Inn in town. You might want to take ear plugs – she never shuts up.”
* Just when you think nothing could be going right for Shelley this weekend – Aunt Edie turns out to be a marvelous person. I love when Aunt Edie probes about Casey’s absence – “I hope nothings wrong with Casey.” and we get Shelley’s thoughts in italic – Nothing a good swat on the tail wouldn’t cure.  Ha!
* Shura even has a touch of symbolism in the fact that the story begins with Shelley missing a food treat – ( food is Shelley’s kind of thing – especially in the early books when she’s still mentioned as plump ) of which each girl has a food favorite that represents that background – Faith’s fat pretzels with zingy hot mustard – from Chicago , Dana’s New York bagels and cream cheese and Shelley’s homey -peanut butter cookies melting a chocolate kiss on top. But as the story goes forward it also reverses showing us Shelley’s weekend – which was lush with food treats ( which had been an unintentional bonus by Casey’s spite ) the Aunt had treated her to breakfast and dinner at the Inn and the food – with such mouth watering favorites as blueberry muffins and delicious chicken pot pie. Enough to fortify or contrast with the upcoming ordeal Shelley must face – we are shown just how good food and company can be – compared to how miserable. In fact the entire opening scene accomplishes this nicely – favorite foods to munch – vs Shelley’s cold greasy meals, the coziness of friendship after an exhausting day – vs Shelley’s isolation , Dana’s peppermint striped pjs with attached booties that make her the envy of the dorm because of the drafty floors – vs Shelley huddling under a grungy filthy blanket wishing she’d worn pants.
* After seeing Aunt Edie off on the train Shelley is grabbed and thrown into a van which seems to drive forever fighting so much they tie her hands. But that doesn’t stop Shelley!
* Edging over to the door she opens it and flings herself out!
* Good spot to end a Chapter – like anyone could put in their Garfield bookmark with the yarn tassel and go to bed – and wouldn’t you know it – the author has the good sense to cut back to Dana and Faith while us readers are practically chewing on the tops of the pages – get on with it!
* The great thing about these cut backs to other characters is they reinforce Shelley’s dilemma with information she’s not privy to – like she’s only worth something if she’s Casey Flint , and that uh oh the trial’s not for eight more days! And it’s started snowing a nice deadly glimmer of ‘faceted crystals’- is snow ( the cold ) ever good for these situations. That’s another good thing about Shura is she definitely picked the right weather – there is something already imprisoning about snow – a person is never really dressed for it , it makes even familiar locations unfamiliar ,
it’s slippery and cold. While Casey wallows in guilt ( I wonder if she continued with her Shelley look-a-like wardrobe and hair or caught herself ) the girls and even Casey’s parents play a few rounds of Shelley’s favorite game – I love my Love. ( The reader is told this was from Through the looking Glass and unfortunately I’ve misplaced my copy of Alice in Wonderland – A big volume with both stories and Sylvia and Bruno because I wanted to see whereabouts it was – I can believe that of Lewis Carroll a.k.a Charles Dobson – he was brilliant at making up puzzle and word games )
* The game is rather like an alphabetized mad libs here’s Faith’s go at it reversing the love part – “I unlove my Shelley with a sneer because she is so slow. She should eat salamanders and spinach and live in the sink.”’ Get it? All s’s – the trick is to start with a and work your way down to z – which being z would be a doozy to complete.  ( This was before Shelley was discovered to be missing and Faith was getting huffy that she was not only missing the feast but that they’d postponed it as long as their stomachs could hold out.)
* Fave line – Faith says they’re like …. “Worms in hot ashes.” which I suppose means they were having a hard time sitting still – having been quarantined to their room to keep them from interacting with the others students who would be asking – Where’s Shelley?  Casey is staying at the Inn with her parents and the girls to distract themselves decide to pack a few things to send to Casey. They have a whole garbage bag of her things when Casey pitched her fit and threatened to throw everything out. Down at the bottom of the bag is a broken picture frame of her father in Europe and the girls decide to get it fixed. Hmmm – here’s one of those key things you know is going to come back into play – they kept describing the picture so I was all Agatha Christie aha! It’s got to do with the boat in the background! ( Blah wasn’t even close! )
* Dana nearly wrecks things with Bret because she can’t confide in him about her seclusion and it’s only through her tearful tone that has him backing off – ( If you’ve read any of the early books of Canby Hall – Bret is a bit of a pushy boyfriend – like a mash up of Bad Bruce Patman and eye-wandering Todd Wilkens! )
* It takes 25 pages! To find out what happened to Shelley after she flung herself out of the moving van. She makes mistake number one by insisting she isn’t Casey Flint and one of the kidnapers starts to get nervous what if they did snatch the wrong kid. No purse though – thank goodness but as if to heap extra items to Casey Flint’s laundry list of guilt – Aunt Edie gave Shelley a bracelet to give to Casey as a present – a silver i.d. bracelet neatly inscribed with her name. Yikes!       
* Here’s 2 perfect sentences to sum up the place where she was held ( after she noticed the gobs of spiderwebs ) – ‘There were no signs of new spiders at least. But what sensible spider would stay in a place like this where there was not even enough warmth to keep a fly buzzing?’
* While choking down the sticky buns they’ve given her,  Shelley chuckles over the fact that it wouldn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to deduce that she was being held in a sawmill. To mark the days she decides to make piles of saw dust and an eagle eyed reader can note with a chill – that if the writer has put this in – Shelley’s going to be there for a while.
* And the days seemed to stretch forever with only meals – cold and greasy breaking up the boredom. She even recalls the food of Canby Hall and it’s worse entree dubbed Slide and Slime wistfully. Anything would be better than her prison. She listens in to her captors catching a word here and there while they play cards and realizes that if not for the bracelet – she might be dead. ( for not being Casey )
* As they finally get a phone call from Mr. Flint and Casey-err-Shelley is called to the phone Shelley is panicky hoping that Mr. Flint won’t blurt out that’s not my daughter. Thankfully it’s already in the know and plays up that she’s Casey – while Shelley blurts out a strange message wishing for her favorites – mushroom soup and mashed potatoes and tell Mama-Millie that I love her. Well – that I got – the code – Millie Mill as for the rest I decided to cool my heels and yet them unravel it.
[One of the major differences between the Girls of Canby Hall and other series fiction is that the writers seem to have more allowance to be creative -think of the descriptive passages in a typical series – even Sweet Valley High – who generally keep things crisp and sparse. But they miss out on stuff like atmosphere – as when Dana and Faith go Shel hunting in the beginning ( cute! ) –

‘Familiar places turned ghostly under the dim lights. The drapes of the study room stirred ominously, as if they concealed something hidden. The bathrooms all seemed to harbor strange sounds, erratic drips that sounded as if something unseen were sending a watery message in Morse code. The tiny kitchenette was the perfect setting for a Hitchcock movie , with the pilot lights glimmering eerily in the stove.’

    And later on this description as Dana is haunted by worry awaiting the upcoming trial date and making her way across campus. ‘The mist had deepened into a full-scale fog. It hung a little way above the ground so that the trees seemed to float in the air , rootless.’ ]

* Okay so the girls are called away from classes to listen to Shelley’s garbled message who realize immediately that things are off – but unfortunately the F.B.I agent attributes Shelley’s nonsense to the fact that she’s probably been drugged to keep quiet. Yeah , But would anybody say anything so purposely strange?!
* The girls develop some pictures from the Parent alumnae weekend hoping to finger any odd duck and wouldn’t you know it – a man seen in the background of Mr. Flint’s broken-framed photo is spotted in the crowd.
* Dana working on a hunch – she’s guessed that Shelley was playing her game – in the garbled message and rather than tell the F.B.I loops Faith into helping her find someone with a car.
* None-other than Bret.
* Before their road trip the girls struggle over the word game to give them a destination and managed to pin down a Mill in the nearest town with a rose in the name – Melrose. Well , Well, Shelley the actress managed a brief in Melrose Place – ( okay that’s a pretty awful pun but I couldn’t resist )
* Bret shows up in a rumbling wreck of a car whose horn has an annoying habit of blaring for no apparent reason ( but the reader knows somehow this has to come in handy ) and only assumes he’s taking the girls to a dance – it’s only later that he gets roped into accepting the road trip to find Shelley ( whom he assumes has run off )
* The next morning they’re off and stop at a diner for breakfast and again the author allows a nice contrast between Faith’s luxury of having even packed a bag which includes a toothbrush and toothpaste to brush her teeth before she eats – she has a fetish – vs Shelley whose made a makeshift toothbrush out of a piece of tape and a stick. Though they’re feeling pretty confident the waitress serves them a low blow rattling on about just how many mills happen to be in the area.
* Hang in there Shelley! Hey I just thought of something – a mill , a girl tied up in it named Shelley – eek a Twin Peaks moment!
* Shelley wakes up – the worst part of the day – facing those five piles of sawdust and adding a sixth. Her hair is lank and greasy and she plays the I love my Love game using her boyfriend’s name Paul before recalling a memory of her father waking her one morning to see the Aurora Borealis dazzle the snow. ( it’s moments like these that make me love the fact that the Canby Hall series was obviously written from the heart. )
*The next few chapters – we’re rounding the end of the book are tension filled as the trio in Brett’s car begin to search out the Mill’s deciding if it’s not the next one they’ll quit.
* Well of course it’s the next one.
* Dana gets out under the guise of them pretending to be photographers – out to photograph the mill – though Bret wonders what’s with the clock and dagger stuff – or rather he says ‘I haven’t a pigs idea of what’s going on.’ A pigs idea! Where do these expressions come from and rather dated in the era of Miss Piggy – she definitely knows whats going on.
* Dana however isn’t as swift as Nancy Drew once she starts seeing the men pack up the van with crates similar to the ones Casey has in her closet she panics , runs they chase and she falls right into the mill water.
* The kidnapers assume she’s drowned and Faith having heard Dana scream when she hit the water tells Bret to drive off so he can go get help.
* Should I tell you the rest I mean am I ruining it? – Well if you don’t want to know – skip reading this last part
* Faith watches with tears streaming down her face – The kidnapers have shoved Shelley back into the van and are taking off – stumbling into the mill , she calls the police and gasps out a nearly incoherent message and just as she feels hopeless – both Shelley and Dana are lost. Dana staggers into the shack half frozen.
* While Faith keeps Dana from getting hypothermia – the fashion queen is stuck in a less than stellar outfit – Mr. Bret of the broken horn has turned his car into a battering ram , the van overturned and Faith thinking Shelley was dead , allows the tears to stream down her face in relief ( this was the same two that had gotten off the wrong foot in the first book which makes the reunion even more touching ) when she sees Shelley bolt from the police car heading straight for her. They’re hugging crying , Shelley is going oh, oh, oh in a hiccupy kind of way.
* A blissfully satisfying ending as the crew gathers for a party thrown by Mr. Flint and even includes the F.B.I guy. The guest of honor is an astonishingly thin Shelley. In the background is a buffet to include all kinds of tasty things – to make up I suppose for Shelley’s abduction and as for Dana and Faith’s rule breaking ( in a lesser series – things likes repercussions were forgotten or snipped out in leu of the linking paragraph for the next adventure – but in Canby Hall it was
probably a no-no ) , Mrs. Allardyce though within her rights to expel them admires their loyalty and allows them to go unpunished as long as they tell no one what happened.
* Oh , as we come full circle – Allison invites them to celebrate Dana’s birthday – with the same treats Shelley had missed out on in the beginning – Fat pretzels , Bagels and Cream cheese and peanut butter cookies melting a chocolate drop –
* Terrific !

    Okay that’s to show you that girls in the 80’s were awesome – loyal , genuine , smart and that boarding school was not just pillow fights and boys.
    But did the 80’s world ( concerning Boarding schools ) did they ever continue to enrich this glowing ideal? – definitely not.
    Take a movie called Pretty Smart ( follow with Aspirin ) done in 1987 which attempts to take a batch of girls who become fast friends at a boarding school , and have them foil a bunch of criminals. On the sketchiest of descriptions there’s where the similarity lies. But that’s about it –

Pretty Smart Movie Poster

        Pretty Smart
* Pretty Smart is pretty dumb it’s also pretty juvenile and pretty putrid.
I get the feeling what could’ve been a terrific teen-flick ( specifically for girls ) was sacrificed for trend – meaning as usual the girls got the shaft in the 80’s.  What can you expect however when someone had the idea of doing a girl flick but handed the script writing to men and gave it a director ( another man ) , who from the looks of things could’ve moved onto porn without missing a beat. Exactly to whom is this movie aimed at – young women? – I shudder to think what they’d be like , young men?- even they would cringe, truth is,  the movie ,creepily, seems aimed towards the adult population, the low-brow set who skulk into afternoon matinees to catch teenagers undressing on screen and little else. If so this
raunch fest – ( though scary-enough is probably mild compared to nowadays ) is right up his or her twisted alley. It could’ve coined the phrase exploitive singlehanded.

Pretty Smart Vhs Cover

( I should’ve known by the VHS cover – none of these girls look like the stars and there is a boy filming at the window totally misrepresenting the outcome of this movie. And it’s a little creepy how much the tone of the drawing – despite the nature of it resembles a teen book cover!)

*It starts off with an interesting premise two vastly different teenage sisters – Daphne a.k.a Ziggs a punk rebel and Jennifer a down to earth prep,  are shipped off to a European boarding school by parents fed up with Ziggs off camera shenanigans ( though over the credits snapshots cover some obscure prank resulting in an arrest. )

Pretty Smart 1987 - Discovering theyre off to Boarding School

*Dig Ziggs Souxie Soux make up! and Jennifer’s pastel jumpsuit.

* Both girls decide to go there separate ways –

Pretty Smart 1987 - Their arrival Outfits 1

Pretty Smart 1987 - Their arrival outfits 2


– which is fine since the school is already divided by the subs – as in subhuman or subculture and the preens as in the preening elite ( Zero – Patricia Arquette however describes the nickname as being from the sound their hair dryers make –preeeeen.  (  Zigg’s in in typical late 80’s punk mode – the Madonna look in a tiered dress with metallic layers , tasseled conch belt , junk jewelry while Jennifer is in typical prep mode – another jumpsuit this one pastel floral print with a smocked waist. )

* There to help the division is Crawley,  the dastardly , but dashing principal who has his own agenda for keeping both sides at one another’s throats. What could’ve been an interesting cultural comedy drama , becomes a typical boobfest or maybe not so atypical at that. Crowley we learn retreats to his office with a glass of brandy to
watch the girls undressing , showering and having panty-clad pillow fights from cameras hidden in every available bath and bedroom.

Pretty Smart 1987 - Crawley - Dennis Cole

But least we think this not creepy enough frequent
phone calls reveal Crowley does this for money selling the tapes to ‘erotica collectors.’ Though
the writers could’ve left it at that and still made an engrossing ( key word gross ) movie with a twist – but this
is the 80’s of Porky’s and all it’s swine-like little followers and realizing their would be no real sex with just this angle – Crowley invites boys to stay over night under the guise of tennis tournaments – allowing for the quintessential sex scenes clips. Ample nudity abounds. The writers also like to pound it over our head that this is one nasty bad guy by one upping his next vomitrous deed – even though he tapes the girls and boys merrily going at it – he introduces several girls to clients who’re supposed to have a go at the girls themselves ( star in their own features?!) this I didn’t quite get are we led to believe the girl is willing , or drunk , or is being paid – little is made clear cause it’s all turned on it’s head with a joke when the portly man’s back is exposed as being covered with ape-like hair sending the grossed out preen into the bathroom to vomit and nothing it consummated.

Still not bad enough? -let the writers throw in some drug smuggling with the girls as witless mules

Pretty Smart 1987 - Jennifers cool purple dress

( Love that fabric! it’s some 80’s synthetic that was always around , usually patterned with shiny satin pieces and used mostly for blouses ) 

and have him torch Ziggs clothes and confiscate her birthday present

Pretty Smart 1987 - Jennifer and ZIggs dancing - Jennifers hobble skirt

( I had to include this pic which is of Jennifer dancing at Zigg’s birthday party – which finally entices the Preens to join in the fun – Samantha too! But check out Jennifer’s white ruched hobble skirt I don’t know why but I found it totally cool! )

Pretty Smart 1987 - Zero in her party hat

( Disgusted by the party crashers at first – check out the girl in the background –animal print denim! her jacket matched her skirt! )


and well lets just say he couldn’t get much worse – accept when he fires their favorite teacher a lovely Joely Fisher.

Pretty Smart 1987 - Joely Fisher as Averill

( The movie the Fisher’s don’t talk about at family reunions )

* Had the movie stuck as a teen drama with light comedy it might’ve been a real treat. What other project can you think of that featured a mainly female cast?  The subs actresses were spot on – Tricia Leigh Fisher ( newcomer – daughter of Joely ) exuded just the right amount of brashness and vulnerability

Pretty Smart 1987 - Ziggs long lacy hair bow

( Were hair bows ever this looooong? all she needs is a Spanish hair comb! )

Pretty Smart 1987 - The Layered look

( Layered look – aha! like Enid on the cover of SVH’s Hard Choices! )

but was often overshadowed by the demur presence of newcomer Patricia Arquette as Zero her quiet roommate.

Pretty Smart 1987 - Zero - Patricia Arquette

Pretty Smart 1987 - Zero has her own cool shoelace bow

( I remember that Goody released a line of shoe lace hair ribbons called Doodles I think )

And Kimberly B Delfin was delightfully kooky as a talkative Asian, Yuko who teaches one of the foreign Preens how to translate her greeting into – My dog has a very low testosterone level.

Pretty Smart 1987 - Yuko - Kimberly B

Pretty Smart 1987 - Yuko's pigtails

Pretty Smart 1987 - Yuko Mixing up a Preen

( Yuko totally reminds me of Claudia Kishi here! )

The Preens unfortunately are all one note –

Pretty Smart 1987 - The Preens in the Boarding School uniform

Pretty Smart 1987 - Typical preen outfit

Pretty Smart 1987 - Big Hair

( The Preen /Preppy look – Big hair , Big nails , Lengthy skirts and dresses. Pastels and whites were big , but solids ,like this ruffley mustard colored dress, were also in – for comparison watch ( if you must ) this and Pretty in Pink – the richies had the same length – contrary wise mini skirts like Samantha wore was also seen on bad girl Benny )

-given that they are the sexually active stars of Crawleys own midnight movies they do little else then show their breasts even when they aren’t being filmed! The standout in more ways then one is Julie Kristen Smith, Samantha the lead Preen

Pretty Smart 1987 - The Bad girl - great smile though


who has a couple of good moments, enough to disappoint you that she was used little more than head flasher. 

Pretty Smart 1987 - Samantha Falconwright - Julie Kristen Smith

( love the preen’s headbands! )

That’s another thing about the movie that bothered me was that things were done mainly to suit the audience and not character – to keep the skin frequently flickering the writers have Samantha : dance backwards out of a shower so Ziggs can laugh at her ,

Pretty Smart 1987 - Ziggs leopard spotted leggings

( couldn’t capture her laughing – too blurry but here’s her leopard spotted leggings , hysterical! )

have Sam apply nail polish,  topless?!  in the presence of her uncomfortable roommate with her legs spread wide and she and her boyfriend are the most frequent feature of the ‘movies.’ They also have the girls sunbathing – topless on the schools rooftop – even Joely Fisher joins in though the moment does give Ziggs some ample zingers.  Thankfully the subs aren’t so bodily driven –

Pretty Smart 1987 - Yuko's cool sunglasses

( Cute sunglasses! )

We also see clips of Sam in the shower , with her lover , and even her uniform includes a purposely see-thru
blouse and just when you think you’ve seen all you want of
Samantha – or any of the girls for that matter – the subs are taken on a trip to the beach where the director has a chance to take some loving clips of more topless bathers.  Ugh!

Pretty Smart 1987 - Tricia Leigh Fisher

( Fortunately Ziggs kept her bathing suit on ! )

Not that the frequent flash of breasts ends references to sex – nope this is after all an exploitive movie and the
more muck the merrier. We have Ziggs drawing an explicit penis in sex ed , her confession of being pressured into sex ( an odd serious moment for a movie of this type ) , the girls watch a porn movie and discuss oral sex , a girl prepares her diaphragm for sex – but it flips up onto the
ceiling and sticks , Zero picks up lewd knick knacks on their afternoon out , there is a crack made about vibrators , and beastiality and Ziggs’ uneasy sister Jennifer quickly sheds her inhibitions and Madonna underwear

Pretty Smart 1987 - Jennifer's madonna look

to join the rest of the Preens romp sessions and by the end of the movie is toying with a whip and discussing the pleasures that one of them ( meaning her boytoy ) should be dominated. All this in a so-called teen flick! As for the ‘comedy’ of the movie it to also boarders on the bizarre – the movie starts off as a tale – a fairy tale being told to goats by a duke or something or other – stay with me it’s true – this is to tie-in the fact that the boarding school is set in a castle – and why they have such a dastardly principal – who else would take the job for little money – the school/castle eeks out a small income by giving tours so that classes and the action are frequently being interrupted by the chirpy tour guide and a crowd of gawkers featuring popping flashbulbs. The teachers are all foreign rejects trying to drill in ,spoofs I suppose, the cliches of finishing schools with giant prop soup spoons and teachers asking is that caviar in your mouth because if it is I hope you brought enough for the rest of us. None of this is really very funny nor is Ziggs pranks – pretending to be huffing and puffing pregnant during an afternoon tea with visiting alumni ,

Pretty Smart 1987 - Ziggs impersonates the preens

( Here she is in Preen mode – curled hair , the hair bow , the tie all ready for her prank! )

Pretty Smart 1987 - Ziggs chomps her metallic nails to gross out the alumnae meeting

( her finale is to trim her toenails with her teeth and spit the clippings at the crowd! hey metallic blue nail polish back here?! )

sabotaging a stuffy gathering by popping out of a fake cake in wild rocker gear to sassily present the principal with a rose ( this bud’s for you )

Pretty Smart 1987 - the rock bands backdrop

Pretty Smart 1987 - Balloons first

Pretty Smart 1987 - Ziggs popping out of the cake

Pretty Smart 1987 - Ziggs elvira type outfit

Pretty Smart 1987 - This buds for you

( she’s having a real Lady Gaga moment ! and what’s with the body builders?– in the 80’s they thought it was the height of hunkdom to have weight lifters or wrestlers in teeny tiny leopard print briefs as the ultimate sex symbol. Only if sexy is meant to be hysterically funny! )

but at least these acts are more in tune with teens. When the girls finally discover what Crowley’s up to , they join forces – preen and sub to chase him out of school , waiting till more ‘erotica’ buyers show up and turn their shows into something out of a horror flick with girls mock stabbing boys , suffocating them with pillows until they march on him like zombies chanting his name.

Pretty Smart 1987 - Zeros zombie look

All in all it’s rubbish – a novelty only to check out the typical 80’s gear – Tricia Leigh Fischer’s wardrobe is a scream part Cyndi Lauper part Madonna part Elvira! It’s the only reason I held out on this hunk-a-junk. On an interesting note Tricia Leigh Fisher who sings the title theme song released an album ( not with the title song her own album! )
    Enjoy the pics from the movie – because I have to admit – though the story is trash – read a Canby Hall book instead! – the clothes and hair are fun! Here’s some trends I wanted to squeeze in ….

Pretty Smart 1987 - Jennifer - Lisa Lorient

( Bright printed Hawaiian blouses and plenty of Bold Hold Hairspray! Not to mention the 80’s twist on the 60’s hair band! )

Pretty Smart 1987 - hard to see but great outfit

( One of my favorite outfits that Ziggs wore – very hard to capture because she was either too far in the background , dancing or sitting! It’s a button down , cropped chartreuse shirt with the sleeves rolled up – I know duh you can see it but the skirt is designed to look like the shirt tail! Isn’t that cool! )

Pretty Smart 1987 - That hair

( I just want you to check out this hair again did girls put in hair rollers every morning to achieve this?! Okay I have to admit she does look cute , soft curls suited the 80’s face  which was rather like a valentine)

Pretty Smart 1987 - the slave bracelet

( See the slave bracelet – which links up to the ring these were super in I wanted one but my parents were like – no way! )

Pretty Smart 1987 - The Subs bedroom

( Yuko’s briefcase purse is very cool – it shows up frequently in the movie you can spot it right there,  it’s the one with the 80’s art graphic of the two woman blowing the same bubble gum bubble – I wish I knew who the artist was …. not Patrick Nagel ….hmmm.)

Pretty Smart 1987 - Unseen additions dark plaid leggings and a black and white leopard spotted skirt

( Remember when your eye make up matched your fuchsia shirt? and when Zebra print was considered cool – don’t laugh it’ll probably come back in style – but lets hope not! )

Pretty Smart 1987 - Ziggs adjust her skull pin

( Fuchsia lipstick , pink lace gloves , black jellies and a skull pin – I’m so non-conformist that I’ve conformed to everything on the non-conformist list! )

Pretty Smart 1987 - Ziggs' version of the uniform

( While Ziggs flashed attitude , Samantha just flashed. This is Ziggs impression of the school uniform – her hair is teased high enough to hide to hold a bird house , anchored with another lacy bow and though it was extremely hard to nab a photo of it Ziggs had a trend I have never seen before. Recall how when you were younger you would tie your sweater around your waist? Usually the sweater part was in back and the arms dangled in front – but Ziggs twisted the sweater part around covering her skirt? shorts?! Weird never saw that before. )

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5 Responses to The Girls of Canby Hall #2 Our Roommate is Missing – Boarding School loyalty vs the shenanigans of 1987 Pretty Smart

  1. Much says:

    I just came upon your site, and I can just tell it’s going to provide hours of procrastination for me 🙂 I’m a fellow former YA-book lover too (and a fellow Canuck!) and I just adored the Girls of Canby Hall, as evidenced by the fact that I’m now recapping them; you can see my take on this one at Now I’m off to look around … I thought I was the only one who read some of these titles!

    • peacharino says:

      Hi , I can’t wait to go over your site – just read your review of Canby Hall #2 it was great! I loved how you found that article on Courtney Cox – good job! I had no idea that was her ( drawn I mean) – I guess there was some creative license going on. Though I have seen her on covers – check out my stars glittering on covers article – CLICK HERE I hope you don’t mind if I add you to my blog roll.

      • Much says:

        I don’t mind at all! Your stars-on-covers article was fab … Lori Loughlin (really, Full House in general) was another of my ’80s favourites. I am really impressed by the sheer number of titles you’ve covered — this is a hilarious walk down Memory Lane!

        • peacharino says:

          Thanks! it’s fun but hard work! I so wanted Candace Cameron’s hair when I was little now I think I want Lori Loughlin’s. I’m working right now on adding about 60+ extra series that I missed – it’s taking a while ’cause of the research – but I’m hopeful it should be up soon.

  2. Val says:

    Thanks very much for reviewing those movies for us. I’ve been looking for pretty smart for 15 years now and can’t describe how happy I am to watch it no matter how silly it is. I was impressed by it in my teens but didn’t know the name although I remembered a couple of things and googled them and thanks to your summary I remembered it all and found out the name!! Thanks again and keep up the good work!!! :-)))

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