Private School (film)
|Directed by||Noel Black|
|Produced by||R. Ben Efraim
|Written by||Dan Greenburg
|Music by||Rick Springfield|
|Edited by||Fred A. Chulack|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Release date(s)||July 29, 1983|
|Running time||88 minutes|
Private School (also titled Private School ... for Girls) is a 1983 teen oriented sex comedy film, directed by Noel Black. Starring Phoebe Cates and Matthew Modine, it follows a teenage couple attempting to have sex for the first time.
Christine "Chris" Ramsey (Phoebe Cates) lies in bed narrating a trashy romance novel to her roommate at the Cherryvale Academy for Girls, Betsy (Kathleen Wilhoite). Meanwhile, three students of the nearby Freemount Academy for Men, including Jim Green (Matthew Modine) and his overweight, slobbish friend Bubba (Michael Zorek), sneak into Cherryvale to peek on the girls. Jordan Leigh-Jenson (Betsy Russell), showering at the time, sees that the boys are peering at her and enlists Chris and Betsy's help to drive them away; the three boys fall off the side of the building. In response to being disturbed, the roommates light a bag of feces on fire and put it in front of Jordan's door.
About a week later, at a co-ed dance, Chris reveals that Jim is her boyfriend; as the couple are dancing, Chris tells Jim that she's decided she wants to surrender her virginity to him. After a speech by headmistress Miss Dutchbok (Fran Ryan), the band plays a slow song while Jordan dances alone and conspires against Chris. Bubba, sporting an erection from Miss Dutchbok's speech, sneaks off to the headmistress' office with Betsy to drink and have sex; however, the two are caught in the act by the headmistress and her friends. The following day, after morning aerobics, Chris books a hotel for herself and Jim.
After another period of time, students of the two schools are horseriding together. Jordan trots past where Chris and Jim are talking and flashes her breasts at Jim. In revenge, Betsy steals Jordan's shirt, forcing the latter to horseride nude in front of the headmistress et alumni. That weekend, Jim goes to buy condoms but is distracted by the pharmacist (Martin Mull) and ends up buying dental hygiene products; when Chris goes to buy the protection herself, she is distracted and eventually seen by Miss Dutchbok.
After a time in the arcade where Jim is forced to speak romantically over the phone to Chris by his friends, Jordan swears greater revenge. The following day, Jim, Bubba, and another friend dress as women in order to sneak into the girls shower room. Jim is caught by Jordan, who arouses him with a cold bottle and forces him to give her a massage. Meanwhile, Bubba meets up with Betsy for a tryst but leaves when she demands more from him. As Bubba is exiting the building through the ledge, he witnesses Jim massaging Jordan. When he is startled by Betsy, he falls off the ledge; meanwhile, Betsy catches Jim and tells Chris, leading to the two breaking up.
After several weeks of unsuccessfully trying to get Chris back, during parent visitation day Jim asks for the help of her father. After he and Betsy tell Chris to take Jim back, she does; Chris and Jim then leave for the hotel. After failing to have sex during the night because Chris finds the hotel too kitschy, they have sex on the beach in the morning.
Meanwhile, Jordan's father (Frank Aletter) has sex with her new stepmother while the chauffeur Chauncey (Ray Walston) listens in. Not long afterwards, Miss Dutchbok, who has mistaken Chauncey for Mr. Leigh-Jenson, have sex in the back of Leigh-Jenson's car; Bubba and Betsy, looking to have another tryst, climb into the front seat and turn on the loudspeakers, ensuring that the sounds of both couples at coitus are carried far and wide. Upon realizing what Bubba has done, Miss Dutchbok lunges at him, eventually resulting in the car going into the pool. Afterwards, Bubba begins hitting on Jordan, eventually leading to Jordan paying him a midnight visit; when Betsy catches them together, she is apoplectic. The film ends with graduation day, where the graduating girls moon the camera.
Private School was initiated in the wake of the surprise success of Private Lessons in 1980; Universal, who had licensed home video and cable TV rights to the independently-produced comedy, financed this follow-up project. Though not a direct sequel to the previous film, it retained multiple parties from it, including R. Ben Efraim as producer, Dan Greenberg as screenwriter (along with his then-wife Suzanne O'Malley), and star Sylvia Kristel, who played a cameo as a new character. Don Enright, the son of Private Lessons co-producer Dan Enright, was a co-producer on the film. It was directed by Noel Black, who had found success in 1968 with the thriller Pretty Poison. Phoebe Cates, star of the 1982 hit Fast Times at Ridgemont High, was cast in the lead role, while Betsy Russell was cast in a supporting role.
Release and reception
Private School was released on July 29, 1983. Janet Maslin, writing for The New York Times, gave the film a negative review; she wrote that the film seemed to indicate the makers' understanding of film business, that sex comedies "usually make money, no matter how sleazy or derivative they happen to be". Jeremy Wheeler wrote a mixed review of the film for Rovi in the late 2000s, arguing that although most of the jokes "fell short", Private School was "good for a few shocks along the way". Roger Ebert with the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film two stars out of four, writing that the "smarmy-minded movie" was "much better than average" teen-oriented sex comedies but reflected a trend of "anti-woman" films in the genre.
- Ebert, Roger (April 25, 1983). "Private School". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on January 27, 2012. Retrieved January 27, 2012.
- Maslin, Janet (July 30, 1983). "Private School (1983) 'PRIVATE SCHOOL'". The New York Times. Retrieved January 27, 2012.
- Wheeler, Jeremy. "Private School". Rovi. Archived from the original on January 27, 2012. Retrieved January 27, 2012.