THE LADY WILL HAVE ... “Everyone was asking me, ‘What’s going with the kids?’” recounted a 24-year-old Cameron Crowe to the LA Times in 1981 while his book was being adapted into a film, “like there was some big secret. I decided to find out. I’d just turned 21 and melancholy. I’d graduated as a junior, never having a senior year. My editor (David Obst) said, ‘You’re still young enough to go back – and report.’”
The film Fast Times at Ridgemont High was released thirty years ago today, and if there's a better line reading in the history of American cinema than Sean Penn's "You dick" to Mr. Hand, I don't think I know it. Featuring three future Academy Award winners for Best Actor, it somehow manages to be funny as hell and sexually explicit while emotionally frank (and painful) in ways that "teen movies" rarely are. Even thirty years later, how many other mainstream American films have featured a character having an abortion, other than Dirty Dancing? (And as Isaac once noted, it reminds us that there once was a time that a major studio picture could depict a 15-year-old having sex.)
Roger Ebert wrote at the time that it was "a scuz pit of a movie" and "offensive vulgarity ... a failure of taste, tone, and nerve -- the waste of a good cast on erratic, offensive material that hasn't been thought through, or maybe even thought about." I wonder if he'd like a do-over.