Rock 'n' Roll High School (1979)

PG | 93 mins | Comedy | 1979

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HISTORY

According to a 16 Apr 1979 LAT article, director Allan Arkush and writer Joe Dante recorded the film’s script on a Dictaphone several years before the production got underway, but when a staff writer at Roger Corman’s New World Pictures transcribed the tape, the picture was rejected for production. However, writer Joseph McBride was hired rewrite the script. After McBride produced five drafts of a screenplay about a female gymnastics team titled Girl’s Gym , New World decided to change the story’s focus from athletics to music and the writing team of Richard Whitley and Russ Dvonch completed the script. LAT noted that although the film had a minimal budget of $350,000, the writing credits were disputed in a Writers Guild of America (WGA) arbitration panel, and the WGA ultimately determined the order and recognition of the writers before the film’s release.
       As stated in an 11 Dec 1978 HR article, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School was one of twelve films slated for release by New World in 1979. The nine year-old production company, which had grossed over $500 million in box office receipts to date, announced that $12 million would be spent to promote their low-budget pictures in 1979. Although HR noted that principal photography for Rock ‘n’ Roll High School was underway, a 21 Dec 1978 Var news item stated that production was set to begin 25 Dec 1978, Christmas day. A 15 Jan 1979 LAT news brief reported that the filming was in progress at Mt. Carmel High School in Los Angeles, CA, ... More Less

According to a 16 Apr 1979 LAT article, director Allan Arkush and writer Joe Dante recorded the film’s script on a Dictaphone several years before the production got underway, but when a staff writer at Roger Corman’s New World Pictures transcribed the tape, the picture was rejected for production. However, writer Joseph McBride was hired rewrite the script. After McBride produced five drafts of a screenplay about a female gymnastics team titled Girl’s Gym , New World decided to change the story’s focus from athletics to music and the writing team of Richard Whitley and Russ Dvonch completed the script. LAT noted that although the film had a minimal budget of $350,000, the writing credits were disputed in a Writers Guild of America (WGA) arbitration panel, and the WGA ultimately determined the order and recognition of the writers before the film’s release.
       As stated in an 11 Dec 1978 HR article, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School was one of twelve films slated for release by New World in 1979. The nine year-old production company, which had grossed over $500 million in box office receipts to date, announced that $12 million would be spent to promote their low-budget pictures in 1979. Although HR noted that principal photography for Rock ‘n’ Roll High School was underway, a 21 Dec 1978 Var news item stated that production was set to begin 25 Dec 1978, Christmas day. A 15 Jan 1979 LAT news brief reported that the filming was in progress at Mt. Carmel High School in Los Angeles, CA, and Van Nuys High School in Van Nuys, CA. Locations also included the Whiskey and Roxy nightclubs on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles and the Mayan Theater in downtown Los Angeles.
       A 2 Mar 1979 HR news item announced that New World and Warner Bros. Records negotiated a deal to release the film’s soundtrack. The album, which was set to be released on the same day as the film, marked New World’s “first major record-soundtrack release.”
       Although the film showcased the music of rock band Ramones, the film also featured fourteen additional artists, including Paul McCartney. As noted in a 28 Mar 1979 Var news item, McCartney’s song “Have We Met Somewhere Before?” was written for the Warren Beatty film Heaven Can Wait (1978, see entry). While McCartney’s song was not used in Heaven Can Wait , it was played twice in Rock ‘n’ Roll High School .
       The Ramone’s performance of “Teenage Lobotomy” in the film features subtitles of the song’s lyrics.
       According to a 2 Nov 2002 LAT news item, radio personality Howard Stern planned to remake the picture as executive producer for Archlight Films. Although the film was not produced, a 30 Jul 2008 Var news item announced that Stern was “revisiting” the project with producer Larry Levinson and actor Alex Winter was hired to write the screenplay.
       The end credits include the following acknowledgements: “Special thanks to Joe Dante; Promotional consideration provided by Capezio Dancewear, Coca Cola & U.S. Pioneer; Special thanks to Mira Costa High School, the Arcadia Arabians gymnastic team; ‘Warlock’ van courtesy of Gary Glenn’s Signs & Designs, Orange, California."



The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Melissa Pope, a student at Oregon State University, with Jon Lewis as academic advisor.
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
23 Apr 1979
pp. 3-4.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Dec 1978
p. 3, 23.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Mar 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Apr 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Apr 1979
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
16 Apr 1979.
---
Los Angeles Times
15 Jan 1979.
---
Los Angeles Times
12 Oct 1979
p. 40.
Los Angeles Times
2 Nov 2002.
---
New York Times
4 Aug 1979
p. 10.
Variety
21 Dec 1978.
---
Variety
28 Mar 1979.
---
Variety
28 Apr 1979.
---
Variety
25 Apr 1979
p. 19, 22.
Variety
30 Jul 2008.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
2d unit dir
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d unit cam
Cam asst
Cam asst
Cam asst
Gaffer
Best boy
Key grip
Grip/Driver
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward des
Asst ward
MUSIC
Soundtrack coord
Soundtrack coord
Ramones' mus dir
Mus consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Make-up/Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Prod coord
Giant Mouse created by
Extras coord
Extras coord
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
"Warlock" van courtesy of
Orange, California
Laboratory
STAND INS
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Alley Cat," written and performed by Bent Fabric, Atlantic Recording Corp./Metorion Music Inc.
SONGS
"School Days," by Chuck Berry, All Platinum Record Co. Inc./Art Music Corp.
"Smoking in the Boys' Room," written by Michael Koda and Michael G. Lutz, performed by Brownsville Station, Big Tree Records Inc./Big Leaf Music Inc.
"School's Out," written by Michael O. Bruce, Glen Buxton, Alice Cooper, Dennis Dunaway and Neal A. Smith, performed by Alice Cooper, Warner Bros. Records Inc./Bizarre Music Inc.
+
SONGS
"School Days," by Chuck Berry, All Platinum Record Co. Inc./Art Music Corp.
"Smoking in the Boys' Room," written by Michael Koda and Michael G. Lutz, performed by Brownsville Station, Big Tree Records Inc./Big Leaf Music Inc.
"School's Out," written by Michael O. Bruce, Glen Buxton, Alice Cooper, Dennis Dunaway and Neal A. Smith, performed by Alice Cooper, Warner Bros. Records Inc./Bizarre Music Inc.
"Come Back Jonee," written by Gerald V. Casale and Mark Allen Mothersbaugh, performed by DEVO, Warner Bros. Records Inc./Virgin Music (Publishers) Ltd.
"Teenage Depression," by Eddie & The Hot Rods, Island Records Ltd./Island Music Ltd.
"Albatross," written by Peter Alan Green, performed by Fleetwood Mac, Sire Records Co./Warner Bros. Music Inc.
"Jigsaw Puzzle Blues," written by Daniel David Kirwan, performed by Fleetwood Mac, Sire Records Co./Warner Bros. Music Inc.
"So It Goes," written and performed by Nick Lowe, CBS Records/Rock Music Ltd
"Did We Meet Somewhere Before?" written by Paul McCartney, performed by Paul McCartney & Wings, McCartney Music, by arrangement with ATV Musc Ltd.
"High School," by the MC5, Atlantic Recording Corp./Warner Bros. Music Inc.
"C'mon Let's Go," by The Paley Brothers, Kemo Music Inc./Big Seven Music Inc./Clockus Music Inc.
"You're the Best," by The Paley Brothers, Sire Records Co./Blue Disque Music Inc. & Morocco Music
"A Dream Goes on Forever," written and performed by Todd Rundgren, Bearsville Records Inc., Earmark Music Inc. & Screen Gems - EMI Music Inc.
"Rock 'n' Roll," written by Lou Reed, performed by The Velvet Underground, Atlantic Recording Corp. (Cotillion)/Oakfield Avenue Music Inc.
"Spirits Drifting," written and performed by Brian Eno, E. G. Records Ltd. & Island Records Ltd./E. G. Music Ltd.
"Alternative 3," written and performed by Brian Eno, E. G. Records Ltd. & Island Records Ltd./E. G. Music Ltd.
"M386," written and performed by Brian Eno, E. G. Records Ltd. & Island Records Ltd./E. G. Music Ltd.
"Energy Fools the Magician," written and performed by Brian Eno, E. G. Records Ltd. & Island Records Ltd./E. G. Music Ltd.
"Blitzkreig Bop," written by Douglas Colvin, John Cummings, Thomas Erdelyi and Jeff Hyman, performed by The Ramones, Sire Records Co./Blue Disque Music Inc. & Taco Tunes Inc.
"I Just Wanna Have Something to Do," written by Douglas Colvin, John Cummings and Jeff Hyman, performed by The Ramones, Sire Records Co./Blue Disque Music Inc. & Taco Tunes Inc.
"I Wanna Be Sedated," written by Douglas Colvin, John Cummings and Jeff Hyman, performed by The Ramones, Sire Records Co./Blue Disque Music Inc. & Taco Tunes Inc.
"I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend," written by Douglas Colvin, John Cummings, Thomas Erdelyi and Jeff Hyman, performed by The Ramones, Sire Records Co./Blue Disque Music Inc. & Taco Tunes Inc.
"I Want You Around," written by Douglas Colvin, John Cummings and Jeff Hyman, performed by The Ramones, Sire Records Co./Blue Disque Music Inc. & Taco Tunes Inc.
"Pinhead," performed by The Ramones, Sire Records Co./Blue Disque Music Inc. & Taco Tunes Inc.
"Questioningly," written by Douglas Colvin, John Cummings and Jeff Hyman performed by The Ramones, Sire Records Co./Blue Disque Music Inc. & Taco Tunes Inc.
"Rock 'n' Roll High School," written by Douglas Colvin, John Cummings and Jeff Hyman performed by The Ramones, Sire Records Co./Blue Disque Music Inc. & Taco Tunes Inc.
"She's the One," by The Ramones, Sire Records Co./Blue Disque Music Inc. & Taco Tunes Inc.
"Sheena Is a Punk Rocker," written by Douglas Colvin, John Cummings, Thomas Erdelyi and Jeff Hyman performed by The Ramones, Sire Records Co./Blue Disque Music Inc. & Taco Tunes Inc.
"Teenage Lobotomy," written by Douglas Colvin, John Cummings, Thomas Erdelyi and Jeff Hyman performed by The Ramones, Sire Records Co./Blue Disque Music Inc. & Taco Tunes Inc.
"California Sun," written by Henry Glover and Morris Levy, performed by The Ramones, Sire Records Co./Nom Music Inc.
"Do You Wanna Dance?," written by Bobby Freeman, performed by The Ramones, Sire Records Co./Clockus Music Inc.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Rock 'N' Roll High School
Release Date:
1979
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 8 June 1979
New York opening: week of 4 August 1979
Production Date:
late December 1978 in Los Angeles, CA
Copyright Claimant:
New World Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
30 November 1979
Copyright Number:
PA52126
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
93
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25611
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At Vince Lombardi High School, nerdy teenager Kate Rambeau unsuccessfully attempts to initiate conversation with jock Tom Roberts. At a Board of Education meeting, Miss Togar, the new principal, explains that she will implement strict rules on campus. While Mr. McGree, a teacher, lectures his class about Ludwig Van Beethoven, a female student named Riff Randell commandeers an outdoor loudspeaker, broadcasting music by rock band the Ramones, and announces that Lombardi is “rock ‘n’ roll high school.” With the exception of Kate, students throughout the school dance until Miss Togar cuts the loudspeaker wire. Proclaiming her intention to enforce discipline, Miss Togar asks who is responsible for the insubordination and Kate steps forward. After Riff introduces herself, Miss Togar confiscates her Ramones album and orders the girls into detention. Meanwhile, Tom awkwardly flirts with girls in the hallway and wonders why they are unresponsive. Vowing to improve his image, Tom seeks the assistance of his classmate, Eaglebauer, who keeps an office in a bathroom stall. When Tom says he is looking for sex, Eaglebauer offers him a date with Kate, but Tom wants to go out with Riff and gives his friend a credit card payment to arrange the date. Meanwhile, Miss Togar scolds hall-monitors, Fritz Hansel and Fritz Gretel, for their inept control over their fellow students and orders them to bring Mr. McGree and Coach Steroid to the science lab. There, Miss Togar tells the teachers that rock ‘n’ roll has a negative influence on the students, and when Mr. McGree disagrees, she shows off her research with lab mice. During Coach Steroid’s absence ... +


At Vince Lombardi High School, nerdy teenager Kate Rambeau unsuccessfully attempts to initiate conversation with jock Tom Roberts. At a Board of Education meeting, Miss Togar, the new principal, explains that she will implement strict rules on campus. While Mr. McGree, a teacher, lectures his class about Ludwig Van Beethoven, a female student named Riff Randell commandeers an outdoor loudspeaker, broadcasting music by rock band the Ramones, and announces that Lombardi is “rock ‘n’ roll high school.” With the exception of Kate, students throughout the school dance until Miss Togar cuts the loudspeaker wire. Proclaiming her intention to enforce discipline, Miss Togar asks who is responsible for the insubordination and Kate steps forward. After Riff introduces herself, Miss Togar confiscates her Ramones album and orders the girls into detention. Meanwhile, Tom awkwardly flirts with girls in the hallway and wonders why they are unresponsive. Vowing to improve his image, Tom seeks the assistance of his classmate, Eaglebauer, who keeps an office in a bathroom stall. When Tom says he is looking for sex, Eaglebauer offers him a date with Kate, but Tom wants to go out with Riff and gives his friend a credit card payment to arrange the date. Meanwhile, Miss Togar scolds hall-monitors, Fritz Hansel and Fritz Gretel, for their inept control over their fellow students and orders them to bring Mr. McGree and Coach Steroid to the science lab. There, Miss Togar tells the teachers that rock ‘n’ roll has a negative influence on the students, and when Mr. McGree disagrees, she shows off her research with lab mice. During Coach Steroid’s absence from gym class, Riff switches the teacher’s tape with a demo of a song she wrote for the Ramones called “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School.” When Hansel and Gretel report Riff’s shenanigans back to Miss Togar, she charges across campus to berate the girls. In the locker-room, Kate admits she has a crush on Tom, but Riff says he is nothing compared to Joey Ramone and announces that she is taking three days off school to be the first in line for tickets to the upcoming Ramones concert. The next day, Kate gives Miss Togar a note excusing Riff from school because her mother died. Later, when Kate meets with Eaglebauer to arrange a date with Tom, he drives her to a lookout point where Tom is waiting for Riff. Eaglebauer informs Tom that Kate will be his partner for the next three days so they can practice dating skills such as “necking” and demonstrates on an inflatable sex doll. Back at school, Miss Togar becomes suspicious of Riff’s absences when Kate gives her another note, claiming that Riff’s father died. Meanwhile, at the Rockatorium Theater, Riff meets Angel Dust, who cuts to the front of the line. As the girls argue, The Ramones arrive in a convertible and their fans cheer. After the band disappears inside the Rockatorium, their manager recognizes Angel and welcomes her to join them. Back at Lombardi High, Kate delivers another excuse note to Miss Togar from Riff, claiming that her goldfish died. After buying one hundred concert tickets, Riff returns to school to distribute them among her classmates and gives one to Mr. McGree. Later, Miss Togar calls Riff and Kate to her office, presenting them with a newspaper headline about Riff’s encampment at the Rockatorium, and orders Hansel and Gretel to confiscate their tickets. After school, Riff smokes marijuana in her room and fantasizes that Joey Ramone is serenading her. Meanwhile, Tom admires his van, which has been decorated with a bar and waterbed, and Eaglebauer promises that Riff will be responsive. As Kate tells Riff that she is expecting a special date with Tom that evening, the jock calls Riff and asks her out instead. After telling Tom to find a partner for Kate so they can double date, Riff agrees, but she assures Kate that she will let her go after Tom. Later, the girls win tickets to the Ramones concert and as Tom hears the announcement on the radio, Riff calls to cancel, claiming she and Kate have been in a car accident. Tom is devastated, but Eaglebauer convinces him to pursue the girls at the concert. At the Rockatorium that evening, Kate is dressed in Riff’s rocker clothes and Riff clutches a package containing her original songs she intends to give to the Ramones. As disc jockey Screamin’ Steve Stevens introduces Riff and Kate to the crowd, Miss Togar listens to a radio broadcast of the show in her office. When Riff announces her victory over the principal, Miss Togar orders Hansel and Gretel to capture the girls. Back at the concert, Screamin’ Steve takes Riff and Kate backstage, but Angel and the Ramones’ manager refuse to let the girls in the dressing room. As the Ramones start the show, Miss Togar calls Kate’s mother and holds the receiver to her radio, informing her that Kate is at the concert. While Tom and Eaglebauer search the crowd for Riff and Kate, Angel steals Riff’s sheet music and the girls give chase. After running into Tom and Eaglebauer, Riff enlists their help and when Angel trips over a roadie snorting cocaine on the floor, Tom topples behind her and recovers Riff’s songs. The Ramones wind down their set and Riff rushes to the front row to give Joey a note, which he reads aloud to the audience. Meanwhile, backstage, Kate nurses Tom’s wounds, but he mistakes her for Riff. Correcting him, Kate confesses that she hired Eaglebauer to arrange a date with him and Tom is moved. Following the request from Riff’s note, Joey dedicates the encore song to Tom and Kate. Arriving at the Rockatorium, Hansel and Gretel fail to seize the girls because they are distracted by Angel. After the show, Joey passes out and the Ramones drag him backstage as Riff follows, fanning him with her sheet music. Despite the protests of the Ramones’ manager, Joey agrees to look at Riff’s songs and promises to visit her at school if he likes them. The next day at Lombardi High, Miss Togar uses Riff’s confiscated Ramones record to ignite a pile of the students’ rock albums. As the teenagers and Mr. McGree protest, Riff throws a bowl of punch at the principal and Kate and Tom douse the fire with a hose. The students take over the school, hanging a banner reading: “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School.” After arriving on campus and dismissing Miss Togar’s threats, the Ramones join the kids inside and mayhem ensues. Dancing through the graffiti-covered halls with Riff, her fellow students, and Mr. McGree, the Ramones perform and, as they finish, Kate jumps into Tom’s arms as they kiss. Backed by police and parents, Miss Togar calls to Riff through a megaphone, feigning a desire for negotiation, but, in response, Riff destroys her files with a chainsaw and tosses them out the window. While the Ramones tell Riff her song will be on their next album and induct her as an honorary band member, Kate prepares chemical explosives and sets fire to Miss Togar’s office. As the insurgents leave the building, Riff pleases Miss Togar with a concessionary speech. When the Ramones play “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School,” however, Riff detonates Kate’s bomb and the school explodes into flames. +

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

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