Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Showbiz Trivia: Fast Times at Ridgemont High

As a 15-year-old kid in 1973, Cameron Crowe had an article he wrote about the band Poco published in Rolling Stone magazine. He later interviewed and toured with rock icons such as Led Zeppelin, Peter Frampton, Neil Young and The Eagles.

The 1982 film Fast Times at Ridgemont High was based on a book by Cameron Crowe. At age 22, Crowe spent two semesters undercover as a student at a San Diego high school to research the topic of life as a teenager. His book was adapted into a screenplay. While working on music for the film, Crowe met his wife, Nancy Wilson from the group Heart. Crowe's three passions are music, writing, and film. He knew that the movie needed to have music as a key player to set the mood for the different scenes. The soundtrack included songs by Jackson Browne, The Cars, The Go-Go's, Billy Squier, Sammy Hagar and more. The film had a young cast that included Sean Penn, Nicolas Cage (credited as Nicolas Coppola), Eric Stoltz, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Phoebe Cates, Judge Reinhold and more. Sean Penn, as surfer dude Jeff Spicoli, followed the method acting technique of remaining in character for every minute of the shoot. He insisted on being called Spicoli at all times. The film was mostly shot at an upscale mall in Sherman Oaks, California.

Robert Romanus, who played Mike Damone in the film, talked about how Fast Times holds up over time, unlike some other 1980s movies. He said it was a slice-of-life, showing what it was like in the late 1970s/early 1980s for teens in California. He compared it to American Graffiti, since both films give the viewer a look at life as a teenager.

Information from the book "You Couldn't Ignore Me if you Tried: The Brat Pack, John Hughes, and their Impact on a Generation" by Susannah Gora, published by Crown Publishers, New York, 2010.
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