Harvard's Old Elegance... ...and New Decadence Captured for the Fans

Peter Benzoni is filming a documentary for Italian TV about American, colleges, and he stopped here over the weekend to talk to typical Harvard and Radcliffe students.

What he got was so bad that even a doctored translation (the voices will be dubbed) may not be able to save our image abroad.

About 15 of us, mostly pretty girls, mostly over-dressed, gathered at University Hall Friday morning for the filming session. Benzoni looked at the make-up and dark glasses and remembered that you don't tell anyone a day in advance he's going to be in a movie and expect him to look typical.

"What we want to show them," Benzoni said in a low voice, "is how normal people from all over the U.S. go to Harvard, so I want you people to be from ad ever."

We sat in front of the , one at a time, and repeated three times each, "I'm from Kentucky," or "I'm from Colorado," or I'm from whatever other esoteric state Benzoni could think of.

It took an hour to do six people, because the girl from Massachusetts had trouble with "I'm from Alabama," and because Angus, the soundman, couldn't figure how to rig the low-cut dresses with the microphone.

But Benzoni kept his cool, and we moved to the next scene ... riding our bikes to school (we'd all borrowed bikes from our more typical friends). This became a real chariot race as smiling bodies tried to pedal as close as possible to the camera protruding from the back end of Benzoni's convertible.

Then came the impromptu interviews in the Yard.

"How many hours a day do you have to study at Harvard to get by?"

"None."

Or "Why did you come to Radcliffe?"

"Because it's the very best."

"Is it better than Vassar?

"Oh, yes. It's the very best, you know."

After a morning under the hot lights, we all went to Cronin's for lunch, and Benzoni muttered something about "altering" our comments in translation. He could do worse than "Hello, my Italian friends."