Revenge of the Nerds (1984)

R | 91 mins | Comedy | 20 July 1984

Full page view
HISTORY

According to production notes in AMPAS library files, Revenge of the Nerds was the debut feature film for Interscope Communcations, founded by producer Ted Field. After Field’s family sold the Chicago Sun-Times in 1983, producer Peter Samuelson clarified in a 9 Jun 1984 editorial for The Nation that the picture was completely financed by Twentieth Century-Fox and not by proceeds from the newspaper sale.
       As listed in a 14 Feb 1984 HR production chart, principal photography began 30 Jan 1984 in Tucson, AZ, and was completed by the end of Mar 1984, according to a 28 Mar 1984 HR brief. A 28 Oct 1983 Back Stage news item reported that the University of Arizona in Tucson considered the screenplay “too raunchy” and at first denied permission to use the campus as the primary location, but the administration soon changed its mind and cooperated with the $8-million production, which was forecast to bring in around $4 million to the local economy. Cast and crew were expected to shoot for approximately two weeks on campus before filming in other areas of Tucson. Production notes mention that the interior of the “Tri-Lamb” house was built on a Tucson soundstage and the “moon walk/fun house” set was assembled at a warehouse.
       Over 1,000 students were involved as extras. To prepare for his role as “Lewis Skolnick,” Robert Carradine stayed on campus for two weeks before the start of the filming and even participated in fraternity rush.
       As mentioned in a 24 Aug 1984 LAT item, the picture became a surprise ... More Less

According to production notes in AMPAS library files, Revenge of the Nerds was the debut feature film for Interscope Communcations, founded by producer Ted Field. After Field’s family sold the Chicago Sun-Times in 1983, producer Peter Samuelson clarified in a 9 Jun 1984 editorial for The Nation that the picture was completely financed by Twentieth Century-Fox and not by proceeds from the newspaper sale.
       As listed in a 14 Feb 1984 HR production chart, principal photography began 30 Jan 1984 in Tucson, AZ, and was completed by the end of Mar 1984, according to a 28 Mar 1984 HR brief. A 28 Oct 1983 Back Stage news item reported that the University of Arizona in Tucson considered the screenplay “too raunchy” and at first denied permission to use the campus as the primary location, but the administration soon changed its mind and cooperated with the $8-million production, which was forecast to bring in around $4 million to the local economy. Cast and crew were expected to shoot for approximately two weeks on campus before filming in other areas of Tucson. Production notes mention that the interior of the “Tri-Lamb” house was built on a Tucson soundstage and the “moon walk/fun house” set was assembled at a warehouse.
       Over 1,000 students were involved as extras. To prepare for his role as “Lewis Skolnick,” Robert Carradine stayed on campus for two weeks before the start of the filming and even participated in fraternity rush.
       As mentioned in a 24 Aug 1984 LAT item, the picture became a surprise hit that summer. Producer Samuelson stated in the 24 Jul 1984 LAHExam that the filmmakers were concerned the word “nerd” might deter some audiences, so they limited the release to 364 theaters as they assessed the appropriate marketing campaign. The graphics of the original movie poster bore similarities to the previous summer’s comedy hit, National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983, see entry) and became part of the strategy that helped the picture earn a strong opening weekend box-office gross of $1.5 million. After Revenge of the Nerds brought in more $30 million, a Fox press release announced that the studio was re-issuing the film on 5 Oct 1984 on a double-bill with Bachelor Party (1984, see entry).
       Samuelson defended Revenge of the Nerds in a 2 May 1999 LAT editorial after it was referenced in a 28 Apr 1999 LAT article about the Columbine High School shootings. He noted that the film’s nerds were “inspired by” non-violence advocate Mahatma Gandhi and overcame humiliation and bullying through “passive resistance.” He revealed that he and producer Ted Field “fought hard” for the pep rally ending, while “others” wanted the nerds to resort to violence and destroy the Alpha Beta fraternity house in an explosion.
       A feature film sequel was released in 1987, Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise, followed by two television movies, Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation (1992) and Revenge of the Nerds IV: Nerds in Love (1994). Fox created a pilot for a television series in 1991, but the series was not picked up.
       A 14 Sep 2004 DV article announced that Fox Searchlight was planning a remake produced by McG and his company, Wonderland. The screenplay was being written by Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah, while the idea for the remake had originated with actor Adam Brody, who was listed as co-producer on the project.
       A remake directed by Kyle Newman did go into production in 2006, but under the banner of another Twentieth Century Fox division, Fox Atomic. However, according to a report in the 22 Nov 2006 DV, filming was cancelled two weeks into production. Allegedly, Emory University in Atlanta, GA, refused to cooperate and Fox Atomic executive, Peter Rice, was disappointed with the film dailies.
       As described in a 28 Feb 2013 Rolling Stone article, the film also inspired a television reality show on Turner Broadcasting System (TBS), King of the Nerds, hosted by Robert Carradine and Curtis Armstrong, who played the original “Booger.” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Back Stage
28 Oct 1983.
---
Daily Variety
14 Sep 2004
p. 1, 14.
Daily Variety
22 Nov 2006.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Feb 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Mar 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jul 1984
p. 4, 20.
LAHExam
24 Jul 1984.
---
Los Angeles Times
20 Jul 1984
Section G, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
24 Aug 1984
Section VI, p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
28 Apr 1999
Section A, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
2 May 1999
Section M, p. 4.
New York Times
20 Jul 1984
p. 8.
Rolling Stone
28 Feb 2013.
---
The Nation
9 Jun 1984.
---
Variety
18 Jul 1984
p. 16.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Starring:
as Lewis
as Stan Gable
as U. N. Jefferson
as Betty Childs
as Coach Harris
Jamie Cromwell
as Mr. Skolnick
[and]
as "Booger"
as Poindexter
+

NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Starring:
as Lewis
as Stan Gable
as U. N. Jefferson
as Betty Childs
as Coach Harris
Jamie Cromwell
as Mr. Skolnick
[and]
as "Booger"
as Poindexter
as Wormser
as Takashi
as Burke
as Ogre
as Dean Ulich
Co-Starring:
Edward Adams
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
An Interscope Communications Production
A Jeff Kanew Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Asst cam
Key grip
Chief lighting tech
Still photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Const coord
Leadman
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Women's costumer
Men's costumer
MUSIC
Orig score
Mus supv by
Mus ed
SOUND
Sd mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Scoring mixer
Supv sd ed
ADR ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Titles by
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Loc casting by
Scr supv
Prod coord
Unit pub
New York casting
Transportation coord
Loc mgr
Asst auditor
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
“Revenge Of The Nerds,” performed by The Rubinoos
“Burning Down The House,” performed by Talking Heads, courtesy of Sire Records, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
“One Food In Front Of The Other,” performed by Bone Symphony
+
SONGS
“Revenge Of The Nerds,” performed by The Rubinoos
“Burning Down The House,” performed by Talking Heads, courtesy of Sire Records, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
“One Food In Front Of The Other,” performed by Bone Symphony
“Are You Ready,” performed by Ya-Ya
“Don’t Talk,” performed by Ya-Ya
“Breakdown,” performed by The Rubinoos
“Manhattan,” performed by Andrea and Hot Mink
“All Night Party,” performed by Gleaming Spires
“Are You Ready For The Sex Girls,” performed by Gleaming Spires
“Right Time For Love,” performed by Jill Michaels and Pat Robinson
“Thriller,” performed by Michael Jackson, produced by Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson, written by Rod Temperton, courtesy of Epic Records, Rodsongs, Rondor Music (London) LTD./Almo Music Corp. (ASCAP)
“We Are The Champions,” performed by Queen, produced by Queen assisted by Mike Stone, written by Freddie Mercury, Queen Music Ltd./Beachwood Music, Ltd. (BMI), courtesy of Elektra Records/Outside U.S.A., Queen Prod., Ltd
“We Are The Champions,” performed by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, courtesy of Compact Television
“They’re So Incredible,” performed by Revenge, produced by Ollie E. Brown.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
20 July 1984
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 20 July 1984
Production Date:
30 January--late March 1984
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Copyright Date:
19 October 1984
Copyright Number:
PA227416
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® Cameras by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
91
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27425
SYNOPSIS

Hometown friends, Lewis Skolnick and Gilbert Lowe, arrive for their freshman year at Adams College to study in the prestigious computer science program. As the bespectacled duo lug a trunk across campus, a crowd at a fraternity house points at them and chants “nerds.” Unperturbed by the taunts, Lewis and Gilbert settle into their dorm room and unpack components to build a robot. Meanwhile, the Alpha Beta fraternity, whose members are mostly football players, accidently set their house on fire while experimenting with 188-proof liquor and a lighter. Football coach Harris pressures Dean Ulich to let his players take over the freshman dorm, while the current residents, including Lewis and Gilbert, are temporarily reassigned to the gymnasium. As consolation for the inconvenience, the dean amends school policy and permits freshmen to join fraternities. However, Lewis and Gilbert are among a group of outcasts not selected for a fraternity and are stuck living in the gymnasium. The others include the marijuana-smoker “Booger,” the gay African-American Lamar, the bookish Poindexter, child genius Wormser, and a Japanese student named Takashi. As a last resort, the optimistic Lewis seeks advice from popular sorority girl, Betty Childs, who deceives him into believing that he and Gilbert have a chance to join the Alpha Beta fraternity. After the two nerds are subjected to a fake initiation, they return to the gymnasium humiliated. Meanwhile, in his computer science class, Gilbert befriends a girl named Judy, who plays the accordion. Joining forces with their fellow rejects, Lewis and Gilbert rent a dilapidated house near campus. After the nerds renovate the place, Stan ... +


Hometown friends, Lewis Skolnick and Gilbert Lowe, arrive for their freshman year at Adams College to study in the prestigious computer science program. As the bespectacled duo lug a trunk across campus, a crowd at a fraternity house points at them and chants “nerds.” Unperturbed by the taunts, Lewis and Gilbert settle into their dorm room and unpack components to build a robot. Meanwhile, the Alpha Beta fraternity, whose members are mostly football players, accidently set their house on fire while experimenting with 188-proof liquor and a lighter. Football coach Harris pressures Dean Ulich to let his players take over the freshman dorm, while the current residents, including Lewis and Gilbert, are temporarily reassigned to the gymnasium. As consolation for the inconvenience, the dean amends school policy and permits freshmen to join fraternities. However, Lewis and Gilbert are among a group of outcasts not selected for a fraternity and are stuck living in the gymnasium. The others include the marijuana-smoker “Booger,” the gay African-American Lamar, the bookish Poindexter, child genius Wormser, and a Japanese student named Takashi. As a last resort, the optimistic Lewis seeks advice from popular sorority girl, Betty Childs, who deceives him into believing that he and Gilbert have a chance to join the Alpha Beta fraternity. After the two nerds are subjected to a fake initiation, they return to the gymnasium humiliated. Meanwhile, in his computer science class, Gilbert befriends a girl named Judy, who plays the accordion. Joining forces with their fellow rejects, Lewis and Gilbert rent a dilapidated house near campus. After the nerds renovate the place, Stan Gable, who is leader of the Alpha Betas, quarterback for the football team, and Betty Child’s boyfriend, looks on with envy. Later, a rock, containing the warning “Nerds Get Out,” is thrown through their window. Police are unable to intervene and suggests the boys appeal to the school’s Greek Council. However, the Council, whose president is Stan Gable, is unwilling to help and informs the nerds that they are not allowed to form their own fraternity without sponsorship. Every national fraternity rejects the outcasts except the all-black Lambda Lambda Lambda, which does not have a chapter at Adams College and agrees to meet with the group. In accordance with their by-laws, Lambda president, U. N. Jefferson, accepts the nerds on a trial basis. Lewis is eager to prove their group is worthy of being “Tri-Lambs,” and invites the skeptical Jefferson to their first party. Judy contacts her Omega Mu sorority, known as the female nerds on campus, to help liven up the event, which initially fails to impress U. N. Jefferson. The party remains dull until Booger distributes marijuana cigarettes, stimulating the uptight crowd to dance and flirt with each other. The frolicking is interrupted when the Alpha Betas and the Pi sorority release a sounder of swine into the house. Deflated, the nerds are worried the prank will affect their chance to become Tri-Lambs, while Gilbert advises his friends that they must not resort to violence. In retaliation, the group surprises the Pi sorority girls while they are undressing, and during the commotion, Lamar and Wormser install hidden surveillance cameras in the house. To get even with the Alpha Betas, the nerds douse the jocks’ underwear with liquid heat before football practice. U. N. Jefferson is pleased the nerds fought back and officially accepts them as Tri-Lambdas. However, the Alpha Betas continue to harass the outcasts, and Stan Gable uses his influence as Greek Council president to block any appeals. The nerds realize they must win the Homecoming Carnival, which will give them the right to take over the Council presidency from Gable. During the event, which involves a beer-drinking tricycle race and a belching contest, the Tri-Lambs and their partner, the Omega Mu’s, surprise everyone and remain in second place behind the Alpha Beta/Pi team. For the fundraising competition, the Tri-Lambs collect the most money by selling pies with a naked photograph of Betty Childs. Meanwhile, Lewis approaches Betty in disguise, pretending to be Stan Gable, and seduces her in the fun house. Afterward, she is shocked when he takes off his mask, but is impressed by his lovemaking skills and suggests they meet later at the pep rally. Heading into the musical competition, the Tri-Lamb/Omega-Mu team is tied with their rivals for first place, but the nerds’ creative techno performance earns the loudest applause, and Dean Ulich awards them the Homecoming Carnival trophy. The Tri-Lambs appoint Gilbert as the next president of the Greek Council, while Betty informs Stan Gable that she is breaking up with him to date a nerd. Spurred on by Coach Harris, the humiliated Alpha Betas vandalize the Tri-Lamb fraternity house and wreck Lewis and Gilbert’s robot. At the pep rally that night, Gilbert shows up to confront the Alpha Betas as they are cheered for the upcoming football game. Coach Harris tries to stop him, but U. N. Jefferson and Tri-Lambs from other chapters arrive in time to support Gilbert. After Jefferson hands over the microphone, Gilbert and Lewis announce they are proud to be nerds and appeal to the alumni in the audience who might also have been harassed as nerds. Judy and Betty rush to embrace their respective boyfriends in the center of the field. The other Tri-Lambs join in as the pep rally crowd leave their seats to stand up for nerd rights. +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.