You have four years to be irresponsible. If you’re ambitious, five. Then it’s over. And if you did it right, you spent money you didn’t have, slept through classes you didn’t love, and drank too much. Some of it should be a blur. Ideally, you forged bonds that will never be broken and memories that will never be forgotten. That’s college. Few films capture that...potential...quite like National Lampoon’s Animal House. Released in 1978, it is considered one of the greatest comedy films ever made. In fact, in 2001, the United States Library of Congress deemed Animal House “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected it for preservation in the National film Registry.
The lighting in a bottle that is Animal House was made possible by the hands-off approach of Universal Pictures. Although they landed Donald Sutherland, the low budget comedy lacked sufficient star power. The suits didn’t have high expectations. In the words of studio head Ned Tanen, “Screw it, it’s a silly little movie, and we’ll make a couple of bucks if we’re lucky—let them [director John Landis and crew] do whatever they want.” Well, that couple of bucks turned out to be $141 million. The film became a true cultural phenomenon setting off toga parties at campuses across the country.
The heart of Deborah Nadoolman’s costume design was quickly overshadowed by the widespread adoption of the sheet-wearing ritual. Madras shirting, satin baseball jackets, Jennings’ three piece corduroy suit, and Bluto’s iconic “COLLEGE” sweatshirt lent an uniquely American texture to the film. She showcased the marriage between sportswear and clothing that a post-war American youth pioneered. Looking at menswear’s landscape today, it’s quite obvious that Nadoolman’s rich work was anything but irresponsible.