Class (film)

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Theatrical release poster by John Solie
Directed byLewis John Carlino
Produced byMartin Ransohoff
Written by
Music byElmer Bernstein
CinematographyRic Waite
Edited byStuart H. Pappé
Distributed byOrion Pictures
Release date
  • July 6, 1983 (1983-07-06)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$7 million[1]
Box office$21.6 million

Class is a 1983 American comedy-drama film directed by Lewis John Carlino, starring Rob Lowe, Jacqueline Bisset and Cliff Robertson. It marked the film debuts of Andrew McCarthy, John Cusack and Virginia Madsen.


When Jonathan Ogner first shows up to prep school, he is laughed at for wearing his school uniform. He then goes up to his dorm and meets his new roommate, who introduces himself as Squire Franklin Burroughs IV but tells Jonathan to call him "Skip." Skip then takes off his bath robe and is shown to be wearing a red bra and panties. He explains to the shocked Jonathan that it isn't what it looks like and that it's a tradition for the seniors to parade around campus wearing only girls' underwear. When Jonathan doesn't have any, Skip gives him a set that he had in his dresser. Skip and Jonathan travel out of the dorm together until they get to the final door where Skip stays behind and locks the door. The other students begin to laugh and mock Jonathan for wearing girls' underwear. Mortified, Jonathan attempts to flee the scene. After discovering that Skip has locked all the doors, Jonathan climbs a trellis that leads into his dorm where he finds Skip lying on the floor laughing hysterically.

Skip tries to tell Jonathan that it was all just a practical joke and to just laugh it off, but Jonathan is too embarrassed. Later, during lunch time in the cafeteria, the other students again begin to taunt Jonathan as he tries to eat his meal. When Skip invites Jonathan over to his table to sit with him and his friends, Jonathan turns to reveal that he is crying from shame. Skip is now deeply remorseful for having played such a prank on Jonathan as he sees Jonathan flee the cafeteria.

When Skip returns to their room to apologize to Jonathan he finds Jonathan hanging with a rope around his neck in an apparent suicide. Skip goes to get help, but when he returns to the room where Jonathan hanged himself, Skip and the gathering crowd find not Jonathan but a mannequin with a picture of the Dean's face attached to its head. The crowd begins to laugh hysterically at Skip as the Dean says he wants to see both Skip and Jonathan in his office. As the crowd disperses, Skip hears laughter coming from the closet. Upon opening the closet door Skip finds Jonathan very much alive and laughing at Skip telling Skip that it was just a joke. Skip grudgingly accepts the prank reversal and the two become fast friends. After becoming friends the two share secrets and Jonathan admits to Skip that he cheated on the SAT.

After several failed attempts to find Jonathan a date, Skip decides that it is his sworn duty to help his friend have a successful sexual encounter. Skip decides to send Jonathan to Chicago to meet a girl and gain sexual experience before both of their reputations are ruined. Jonathan is picked up by Ellen, a beautiful older woman, and has an affair with her. Jonathan begins to fall in love with Ellen even though the older woman knows it to be just a fling between them. Jonathan lies and claims to be a Ph.D. student. When Jonathan proclaims his love to Ellen during one of their sessions, Ellen begins to have second thoughts about continuing the relationship. Her decision is finalized when she discovers that Jonathan is not only much younger than he had originally claimed to be, but he also attends the same school that her own son attends.

Over Christmas break, Skip invites Jonathan to spend Christmas with him and his family at the Burroughs estate. It is here that Jonathan discovers that Ellen is Skip's mother and is married. Jonathan tries to end the affair, but Skip's mother contacts Jonathan several times. Eventually Jonathan agrees to meet Ellen to talk. He lies to Skip, claiming to need time alone. When Jonathan and Ellen meet, they end up in bed again. In an attempt to cheer up his friend, Skip and friends go to Jonathan's hotel room. There they discover Jonathan in bed with Skip's mother, upsetting Skip. Later, Skip and Jonathan have a fist fight, but finally reconcile.



Principal photography for the film took place in Chicago and the surrounding area between September and November 1982. Suffield House in Lake Forest played the part of Skip Burroughs' family estate which was given the fictitious address of 65 Spring Creek Road, Barrington Hills.

Bisset replaced Lesley Ann Warren for the role of Ellen Burroughs.[2] Bisset was disappointed that scenes involving her character's backstory were cut. These included a scene at the end where her son visited her in a mental hospital. "When you're in a comedy ... It's always difficult to develop a character because they always cut for comedy, the comic effect. I lost a couple of scenes that would have explained my character better. She was more interesting in the original script. Why does she do what she does? She's a very unhappy woman. She doesn't have any relationship at home. Cliff tells her in the bedroom that she's a Burrows and as long as she's a Burrows she must behave. That's not much of a relationship to have with your husband. So she's a bit off balance, greatly in need of a childlike component in her life. She's been completely buckled down by Cliff. There's absolutely no fantasy aspect to her life. She's condemned to being an adult... The director sees it much more as a rites-of-passage film", Bisset said.[3]

McCarthy attended an open call held at New York University and wound up with the lead part in the film.[4]

Lowe said, "It was a very atypical role for me. So it's a little uncomfortable when I'm too readily associated with it. 'Oh yeah, him, he was in Class.' It was such an extroverted role, and most of my work has been just the opposite. I like the movie. I think it was fun, not the vile concoction a lot of people seem to think it was."[5]

Madsen dislikes talking about her experience making the film, stating in a 2013 interview, "Those guys were assholes. They were really shitty to me. It was bad. Bad memories."[6]

Rob Lowe said her comment was justifiable, pointing out "her big part in that movie required her shirt to get ripped off, and looking back, it couldn't be a more egregious, vintage, lowbrow, 1980s Porky's-esque, shoehorned-in moment... I can imagine it was not much fun to do that big sequence with a bunch of laughing, ogling frat-boy actors. I mean, can you imagine putting up with me, [John] Cusack, Alan Ruck, and Andrew McCarthy at 18?"[7]


Class currently holds a 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 14 reviews.[8]

Variety said "Class is anything but classy....[It] seems something like an unofficial remake of one of Bisset's first Hollywood efforts, the 1969 The First Time".[9]

Vincent Canby wrote "The movie can't make up its mind whether it's a lighthearted comedy, set in what appears to be a posh New England-style prep school just outside Chicago, or a romantic drama about a teen-age boy who has a torrid affair with his roommate's mother. Either way it's pretty awful."[10]

Roger Ebert gave the film 2 out of 4 stars and said it was a "prep-school retread of The Graduate that knows some of its scenes are funny and some are serious, but never figures out quite how they should go together"; The film is "entertaining when it's not dealing with its real subject matter, painful when it is, and agonizing when it confuses rigid mortification with humor."[11]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Mann, Roderick (December 23, 1982). "Lesley Ann Warren: Filling Void After Victor/Victoria". Los Angeles Times. p. G-7.
  3. ^ Siskel, Gene (July 3, 1983). "MOVIES: What comes after 'Class'? A meaty movie for Jackie Bisset". Chicago Tribune. p. K5.
  4. ^ Caulfield, Deborah (July 18, 1983). "Warners Wondering If It Has 'STUFF' Of Success". Los Angeles Times. p. G-1.
  5. ^ Lyman, Rick (March 11, 1984). The Young Actors: For Lowe, at 20, Leading Roles Already Philadelphia Inquirer p. K1. Retrieved December 5, 2020.
  6. ^ Harris, Will (July 19, 2013). "Virginia Madsen on smelling Christopher Walken, getting tax advice from Arnold Schwarzenegger, and more". The A.V. Club. Retrieved December 5, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Harris, Will (February 8, 2017). "Of all his films, Rob Lowe wants you to go back and watch Bad Influence". The AV Club. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  8. ^ "Class". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 5, 2020.
  9. ^ "Film Review: 'Class'". Variety. December 31, 1982. Retrieved December 5, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Canby, Vincent (July 22, 1983). "Class, Tale of an Affair". The New York Times. Retrieved June 1, 2009. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ Ebert, Roger (July 22, 1983). "Review 'Class' (film)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved June 1, 2009. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

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