Private School (1983)

R | 89 mins | Comedy | 29 July 1983

Director:

Noel Black

Cinematographer:

Walter Lassally

Editor:

Fred Chulack

Production Designer:

Ivo Cristante

Production Company:

Unity Pictures Company
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HISTORY

Encouraged by the success of their 1981 release, Private Lessons (see entry), Barry & Enright Productions announced the upcoming film, Private School, in the 21 Jan 1982 DV. The screenplay was reportedly based on writer Suzanne O’Malley’s experiences in a private school for girls, although she planned to update her information by interviewing contemporary schoolgirls. O’Malley’s collaborator was her husband, Dan Greenburg, who worked on Private Lessons along with producer R. Ben Ephraim and actress Sylvia Kristel. Ephraim intended Private School to attract adolescents of both genders, and commissioned the National Research Bureau to test the concept on members of the film’s target demographic, prior to submitting the story treatment to Barry & Enright. The $2 million production was to begin principal photography during spring 1982. The 21 Jan 1982 LAHExam reported that production would begin May 1982, with an anticipated release the following Nov. On 7 Jul 1982, Var reported that Ephraim and Enright formed Unity Pictures Company to produce the film, which was budgeted at $3.5 million. While Enright would continue his participation in Barry & Enright, Jack Barry was no longer involved in the project. Principal photography was scheduled for Aug 1982 at the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, CA, formerly home to AFI.
       A news item appearing in the 18 Oct 1982 DV announced that The Atmosphere Agency was seeking young women over eighteen years of age to appear in the film. Principal photography also began that day, according to the 19 Oct 1982 DV. ... More Less

Encouraged by the success of their 1981 release, Private Lessons (see entry), Barry & Enright Productions announced the upcoming film, Private School, in the 21 Jan 1982 DV. The screenplay was reportedly based on writer Suzanne O’Malley’s experiences in a private school for girls, although she planned to update her information by interviewing contemporary schoolgirls. O’Malley’s collaborator was her husband, Dan Greenburg, who worked on Private Lessons along with producer R. Ben Ephraim and actress Sylvia Kristel. Ephraim intended Private School to attract adolescents of both genders, and commissioned the National Research Bureau to test the concept on members of the film’s target demographic, prior to submitting the story treatment to Barry & Enright. The $2 million production was to begin principal photography during spring 1982. The 21 Jan 1982 LAHExam reported that production would begin May 1982, with an anticipated release the following Nov. On 7 Jul 1982, Var reported that Ephraim and Enright formed Unity Pictures Company to produce the film, which was budgeted at $3.5 million. While Enright would continue his participation in Barry & Enright, Jack Barry was no longer involved in the project. Principal photography was scheduled for Aug 1982 at the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, CA, formerly home to AFI.
       A news item appearing in the 18 Oct 1982 DV announced that The Atmosphere Agency was seeking young women over eighteen years of age to appear in the film. Principal photography also began that day, according to the 19 Oct 1982 DV. The 24 Nov 1982 DV included actress Gracia Lee among the cast, but her name does not appear in onscreen credits.
       The 6 Dec 1982 HR reported to date that Ephraim had spent approximately $100,000 for test marketing Private School. Ephraim stated that the plot, cast, and various aspects of the film were decided based on interviews with 100 teenagers. Distributor Universal Pictures Corporation planned a release in spring or summer 1983.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, all photography in the thirty-five day schedule took place at locations around Southern California, including the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, the Stuppy mansion, the King mansion, and Rancho Park in Los Angeles, CA; the von Volkenburg estate in Pasadena, CA; Whittier College in Whittier, CA; and the Kollsman Estate in Beverly Hills, used as the set for the “Hotel D’Amour.”
       Ephraim told the 18 Apr 1983 DV of his intention to produce two more entries in his “Private” series: Private Resort (1985, see entry) and Private House Sitter. The completion of the latter film has not been determined.
       A feature article in the 24 Jul 1983 LAT detailed the production from inception through release. The article described the processes used by “marketing research expert” Joe Farrell, and the strong emphasis placed on the physical attributes of the featured actresses. Ephraim’s original concept concerned two schoolgirls competing for the attention of a handsome young teacher, to be played by either Mac Davis, John Schneider, or Rick Springfield. The character was changed to a high school senior, based on research, and the test group selected actor Matthew Modine. Actors Scott Baio, John Stamos, Christopher Atkins, and Matt Dillon were also considered for the role. While actress Phoebe Cates was selected by Ephraim based on her previous work, newcomer Betsy Russell impressed the producer by removing her blouse and asking if her breasts were suitable. Among the candidates for the “sex teacher” role were Madeline Kahn, Bernadette Peters, and Lily Tomlin, whose demand for a $650,000 salary offended Ephraim. British comedian Benny Hill was offered a role, but preferred to stay in England. Ephraim approached several directors, including Ron Howard, before selecting Noel Black, whom he reportedly described as not knowing anything about “broad comedy.” The producer hired Jerry Zaks as “dialogue director” to compensate for Black’s perceived deficiencies. Ephraim considered firing Black when the production fell five days behind schedule, and complained of the need to re-shoot scenes on a weekly basis. Songwriter Michael Masser was originally supposed to supply music for the film, but was later fired because his compositions did not appeal to the target audience. Singer Sammy Hagar was also a candidate, but Ephraim ultimately hired Bill Wray. Comedian Don Rickles was originally chosen to play “Chauncey,” the chauffeur, but demanded $50,000 for one day’s work and was replaced by Ray Walston. Ephraim also revealed that Jack Barry was excluded from the project because he reportedly preferred to make quality films and had little concern for profits.
       Dissatisfied with Black’s edit of the film, Ephraim worked with editor Fred Chulack to create a new version. Test screenings were held on 10 Feb and 15 Feb 1983, attended by a total of 700 adolescents. Further edits were made in response to audience comments and complaints of excessive nudity from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Following another screening in Orange, CA, on 17 Mar 1983, the picture opened at thirty-four theaters in Chicago, IL, for a test engagement beginning 22 Apr 1983, supported by an advertising budget of $255,000. Despite Ephraim’s efforts to appeal to both genders, testing demonstrated that the picture’s most positive response was from teenaged boys.
       On 30 Jul 1983, HR stated that Ephraim threatened to sue LAT, citing inaccuracies and misquotes in the article as being detrimental to his reputation. The outcome has not been determined.
       The 8 Jul 1983 HR reported that the three-week Chicago engagement generated approximately $600,000 in gross ticket sales, with an average per-screen gross of $10,300 during the first week, which declined to $5,835 by the third week. To promote the film, Unity Pictures produced music videos of two songs from the soundtrack: “Just One Touch” and “How Do I Let You Know,” for the MTV television network, featuring performances by Bill Wray and Phoebe Cates. Both Unity and Universal faced the challenge of creating advertisements for an R-rated picture that would pass broadcast standards for television. Nevertheless, Ephraim advised Universal to focus the bulk of its advertising budget on television.
       Private School opened in 1,000 theaters on 29 Jul 1983, to mostly negative reviews, several of which criticized the idea of conceiving a film based on market research. The Oct 1983 Box estimated gross receipts of $11 million in its first three weeks, indicating its limited general audience appeal. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
21 Jan 1982.
---
Daily Variety
18 Oct 1982.
---
Daily Variety
24 Nov 1982.
---
Daily Variety
18 Apr 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Oct 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Dec 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jul 1983
p. 28.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jul 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jul 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Aug 1983
p. 3, 21.
LAHExam
21 Jan 1982.
---
LAHExam
9 Jul 1983
p. A2.
Los Angeles Times
24 Jul 1983
p. 1, 4-8.
Los Angeles Times
1 Aug 1983
p. 3.
New York Times
30 Jul 1983
p. 11.
Variety
7 Jul 1982
p. 5, 24.
Variety
3 Aug 1983
p. 20, 24.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
an R. Ben Efraim Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCERS
Asst prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Elec best boy
Key grip
Grip best boy
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Grip & elec
Grip & elec
Grip & elec
Still photog
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dept
Art dept
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Const coord
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Sd ed
Supv re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Title des & illustration
Titles and opticals
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Consultant & dial coach
Casting
Casting
Scr supv
Prod coord
Prod exec
Office admin
New York casting
Extra casting
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Insurance
Public relations
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
SOURCES
SONGS
Harry Nilsson performed "You're Breaking My Heart," composed by Harry Nilsson, publisher: Blackwood Music, Inc., courtesy of RCA Records
Stray Cats performed "Rock This Town," composed by Brian Setzer, publisher: Zomba Enterprises, Inc., courtesy of EMI America Records and Arista Records, Ltd.
Bill Wray performed "She Said No," composed by Bill Wray and Leon Medica, publisher: Mel-Dav Music, Inc. and the D. A. Venture, Bill Wray appears courtesy of Liberty Records
+
SONGS
Harry Nilsson performed "You're Breaking My Heart," composed by Harry Nilsson, publisher: Blackwood Music, Inc., courtesy of RCA Records
Stray Cats performed "Rock This Town," composed by Brian Setzer, publisher: Zomba Enterprises, Inc., courtesy of EMI America Records and Arista Records, Ltd.
Bill Wray performed "She Said No," composed by Bill Wray and Leon Medica, publisher: Mel-Dav Music, Inc. and the D. A. Venture, Bill Wray appears courtesy of Liberty Records
Bill Wray performed "Just One Touch," composed by Bill Wray and Steve Goldstein, publisher: Mel-Dav Music, Inc., Chinnichap Publishing, Inc. and the D. A. Venture
Bill Wray performed "Private School," composed by Bill Wray, publisher: Mel-Dav Music, Inc. and the D. A. Venture
Rick Springfield performed "The American Girl," composed by Rick Springfield, publisher: Vogue Music, in care of the Welk Music Group, courtesy of RCA Records
Phoebe Cates performed "How Do I Let You Know," composed by Bill Wray and Steve Goldstein, publisher: Mel-Dav Music, Inc., Chinnichap Publishing, Inc. and the D. A. Venture, Phoebe Cates appears courtesy of CBS Records
Vanity 6 performed "Nasty Girl," composed by Vanity, publisher: Girlsongs, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records, Inc., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
Bow-Wow-Wow performed "I Want Candy," composed by Bert Berns, Robert Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gotterher, publisher: Web IV Music and Grand Canyon Music, courtesy of RCA Records
Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs performed "Li'l Red Riding Hood," compsed by Ronald Blackwell, publisher: Fred Rose Music, Inc., courtesy of Polygram Records, Inc.
Phoebe Cates and Bill Wray performed "Just One Touch," composed by Bill Wray and Steve Goldstein, publisher: Mel-Dav Music, Inc., Chinnichap Publishing, Inc. and the D. A. Venture
Earl Klugh performed "All the Time," composed by Earl Klugh, publisher: Accoustic Lady Music, Inc.
Mens room performed "Best Years Of Our Lives," Composed by David Jaynes, publisher: April Music Inc., courtesy of Solid Gold Music & S.S.T. Music Corporation
Trio performed "Da Da Da," composed by Stephan Remmler and Kralle, publisher: Francis, Day and Hunter GmbH and Colgems-EMI Music, Inc., courtesy of Polygram Records, Inc."
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
29 July 1983
Premiere Information:
Chicago, IL opening: 22 April 1983
Los Angeles and New York openings: 29 July 1983
Production Date:
8 October--mid December 1982 in Southern CA
Copyright Claimant:
Universal City Studios, Inc.
Copyright Date:
12 August 1983
Copyright Number:
PA185574
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Filmed in Metrocolor®
Duration(in mins):
89
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26987
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

One evening at the Cherryvale Academy for Women, student Christine Ramsay reads passages from a pornographic novel to her roommate, Betsy Newhouse. Outside the neighboring window, their respective boyfriends, Jim Green and Bubba Beauregard, from the nearby Freemount Academy for Men, form a human ladder with their classmate, Roy, as Bubba photographs senior Jordan Leigh-Jensen taking a shower. Jordan enters Christine’s room wrapped in a towel, which Bubba reaches through the window and removes as his friends collapse beneath him. Upon returning to her dormitory, Jordan tells roommate Rita Flugel of her disdain for Christine, which Rita perceives as jealousy over Jim Green. Though Jordan denies the accusation, she declares her intention to seduce Jim and end his romance with Christine. Later that evening, students from both schools gather for a dance in the Cherryvale ballroom. Miss Prudence Dutchbok, the headmistress, addresses the crowd and acknowledges the visiting Cherryvale Building Committee, which is sponsoring construction of a new wing for the school. She escorts the committee to her office, where they find Bubba and Betsy making love on the couch. The next day, the committee audits Ms. Regina Copuletta’s sex education class as she details the mechanics of intercourse. Christine decides she is ready to lose her virginity and makes a weekend reservation for herself and Jim at Hotel D’Amour, a seaside resort for honeymooners. Later, during an equestrian class, Jordan tries to attract Jim by exposing her breasts, unaware that he and Christine have left to buy condoms. That evening, Jim telephones Christine, as Jordan listens in on the extension. After Jordan facetiously reciprocates Jim’s declaration ... +


One evening at the Cherryvale Academy for Women, student Christine Ramsay reads passages from a pornographic novel to her roommate, Betsy Newhouse. Outside the neighboring window, their respective boyfriends, Jim Green and Bubba Beauregard, from the nearby Freemount Academy for Men, form a human ladder with their classmate, Roy, as Bubba photographs senior Jordan Leigh-Jensen taking a shower. Jordan enters Christine’s room wrapped in a towel, which Bubba reaches through the window and removes as his friends collapse beneath him. Upon returning to her dormitory, Jordan tells roommate Rita Flugel of her disdain for Christine, which Rita perceives as jealousy over Jim Green. Though Jordan denies the accusation, she declares her intention to seduce Jim and end his romance with Christine. Later that evening, students from both schools gather for a dance in the Cherryvale ballroom. Miss Prudence Dutchbok, the headmistress, addresses the crowd and acknowledges the visiting Cherryvale Building Committee, which is sponsoring construction of a new wing for the school. She escorts the committee to her office, where they find Bubba and Betsy making love on the couch. The next day, the committee audits Ms. Regina Copuletta’s sex education class as she details the mechanics of intercourse. Christine decides she is ready to lose her virginity and makes a weekend reservation for herself and Jim at Hotel D’Amour, a seaside resort for honeymooners. Later, during an equestrian class, Jordan tries to attract Jim by exposing her breasts, unaware that he and Christine have left to buy condoms. That evening, Jim telephones Christine, as Jordan listens in on the extension. After Jordan facetiously reciprocates Jim’s declaration of love, Christine and Betsy get their revenge by sneaking into Jordan’s room and sabotaging a cheerleader uniform. The next day, Christine and Betsy realize they sabotaged the wrong uniform when one of Coach Whelan’s breasts is exposed during cheerleading practice. Miss Dutchbok implicates Jordan and Rita in the prank, as well as Christine and Betsy, restricting them to campus for the week. Later, Jim, Bubba, and Roy dress as girls in an attempt to visit Christine and Betsy. Once inside the dormitory, they encounter Jordan, who immediately recognizes them. When Jim claims to be Christine’s sister, Jordan invites him to her room and tries in vain to titillate him. Bubba enters Betsy’s room with the intention of making love, but is discouraged by her demand for foreplay. He climbs out the window and makes his way to the gymnasium shower room to look at naked girls. Meanwhile, Jim reveals his true identity to Jordan, who accuses him of trying to seduce her. Though Jim protests his innocence to Christine, she believes Jordan and refuses to discuss the matter. On Parents’ Day the following weekend, Jim explains the misunderstanding to Christine’s father, who promises to intervene on his behalf. Betsy also speaks to Christine and convinces her to give Jim another chance. Jordan waits impatiently for her father, who embarrasses her with his habitual lateness, while Rita’s father, Frank Flugel, embarrasses her with his habitual drunkenness. Mr. Leigh-Jensen finally arrives, accompanied by his latest wife, a very young woman named Bambi. When Mr. Flugel accidentally pushes Miss Copuletta into the swimming pool, Mr. Leigh-Jensen rescues her and offers mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, which the teacher encourages. In the parking lot, Miss Dutchbok mistakes the Leigh-Jensen’s chauffer, Chauncey, for his employer and asks for a donation to the school. He invites Miss Dutchbok into his limousine, draws curtains to cover the windows and seduces her. Assuming the car is empty, Bubba and Betsy make love in the front seat until they realize they are not alone. Betsy places a microphone behind the curtain and connects it to the car’s loudspeaker system, broadcasting Miss Dutchbok’s seduction to the partygoers. The headmistress reacts by reaching through the curtain and choking Bubba. He accidentally releases the emergency brake, causing the limousine to careen through the party and into the swimming pool. A week later, Christine and Jim leave for the Hotel D’Amour. On the Freemount campus, Bubba bets his classmates that he can persuade Jordan to remove her clothes. Expecting a rendezvous with Jim, she enters his dormitory, unaware that several boys are hidden around the room. Jordan is forced to remove her dress after Bubba sprays her with red wine, and she sends him out for club soda to remove the stain. Within moments, Betsy arrives and informs Jordan of Bubba’s ruse. Upon his return, the two girls beat him and push him out the window, while the spectators emerge from their hiding places. At the hotel, Christine and Jim find the contrived ambiance of their suite not conducive to romance and go to sleep. In the morning, however, Christine joins Jim on the beach and they make love in the surf. Months later, Cherryvale’s senior class graduates. Jordan rides to the ceremony with her father and his new wife, Miss Copuletta. Jim is in attendance, along with Roy, who is dressed as a middle-aged man, and Bubba, who is dressed as a woman. Mr. Flugel staggers into an adjoining seat and attempts to fondle Bubba, who knocks him unconscious. Following Miss Dutchbok’s commencement speech, Betsy leads the girls in the chant, “Graduation Cherryvale, you won’t forget us soon; sunny days ahead of us, we leave behind this moon,” after which they expose their behinds. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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