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Fast Times At Ridgemont High

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When a twenty-something reporter named Cameron Crowe decided to go back to high school to chronicle what it’s really like, no one thought he’d actually figure it out. Besides serving as the unofficial teenage textbook of the ’80s, his debut screenwriting effort launched a hit rock soundtrack and the careers of several young actors. Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Nicholas Cage and Sean Penn all got their start in this 1982 high school comedy.

Penn’s Spicoli, who’s been high since third grade, delivers hilarious one-liners as if they were profound philosophy — while on the phone, he hits his head with his shoe and declares, "Listen to this. That’s my skull, dude!"  There’s also those secret sauce combinations, Dimone’s list of what to do on a date, and the constant question of why no one ever knocks anymore.

The movie follows all shades of the iconic teenager: among them the cool kid, the nerd, the teen queen and the stoner. What sets Fast Times apart from the tide of teen movies is how it recognized these stereotypes, subverted the clichés and added depth to them. The cool kid turns out to be weak, the confident older brother loses his way and the girl next door goes too far. Although far from politically correct, this movie resonates with anyone who ever survived the pep rallies, pop quizzes and puppy loves of high school. 

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Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Fast Times at Ridgemont High

1.    While shooting the film, Penn got so into character that he only answered to Spicoli and extinguished a cigarette in the palm of his hand.

2.    When Crowe was 19, he posed as a high school student in San Diego, California, to write about his senior year experiences. The principal of Clairemont High agreed to let Crowe on campus when he found out that Crowe had met the musician Kris Kristofferson.

3.    Alternate, clean takes of several scenes were filmed for use on broadcast television.

4.    David Lynch was originally offered the chance to direct before Amy Heckerling was chosen. He turned the script down, saying it was not really his thing.

5.    In the film, Stacy Hamilton works at Perry’s Pizza. Jennifer Jason Leigh, who played Stacy, actually worked at a Perry’s Pizza for a month after she got the part.

6.    The scene where Linda teaches Stacy how to give a man oral sex was originally supposed to take place in a hot tub with both girls naked. In order to avoid an X rating, the setting was changed to the school cafeteria.

7.    Fearful that the film would bomb, Universal Studios contemplated not releasing it on the East Coast. That way, the film would die quickly at the box office.

8.    Sean Penn asked out Pamela Springstein, who played Dina, on the set of the movie. She accepted.

9.    To get a bigger part in the film, Nicholas Cage lied about his age. When the producers found out he was only 17, they limited his role.

10.    Andy Rathbone was the student that Cameron Crowe based Mark “Rat” Ratner on. He became famous in his own right for writing many of the "…for Dummies" help books.

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