Rock 'n' Roll High School
|Rock 'n' Roll High School|
|Directed by||Allan Arkush|
|Produced by||Michael Finnell|
|Distributed by||New World Pictures|
Rock 'n' Roll High School is a 1979 American musical comedy film directed by Allan Arkush, produced by Michael Finnell, and starring P. J. Soles, Vince Van Patten, Clint Howard and Dey Young. The film featured the punk rock group Ramones.
The movie is set in 1980. Vince Lombardi High School keeps losing principals to nervous breakdowns because of the students' love of rock 'n' roll and their disregard for education. The leader of the students, Riff Randell (P. J. Soles), is the biggest Ramones fan at school. She waits in line for three days to get tickets to see the band, hoping to meet Joey Ramone so she can give him a song she wrote for the band, "Rock 'n' Roll High School".
When the tyrannical Principal Togar (Mary Woronov) takes her ticket away, Riff and her best friend Kate Rambeau (Dey Young) have to find another way to meet their heroes—by winning a radio contest. When Miss Togar and a group of parents attempt to burn a pile of rock records, the students, joined by the Ramones (who are made honorary students) overthrow the teachers and hall monitors to take over the high school, with Miss Togar asking the musicians "Do your parents know you're Ramones?" When the police are summoned and demand that the students evacuate the building, they do so, but then the students and the Ramones burn down the school as a final act of youthful rebellion.
- P. J. Soles as Riff Randell
- Joey Ramone as Himself
- Johnny Ramone as Himself
- Dee Dee Ramone as Himself
- Marky Ramone as Himself
- Vince Van Patten as Tom Roberts
- Clint Howard as Eaglebauer
- Dey Young as Kate Rambeau
- Mary Woronov as Principal Evelyn Togar
- Paul Bartel as Mr. McGree
- Dick Miller as Police Chief
- Don Steele as Screamin' Steve Stevens
- Alix Elias as Coach Steroid
- Loren Lester as Fritz Hansel
- Daniel Davies as Fritz Gretel
- Lynn Farrell as Angel Dust
- Herbie Braha as Sal
- Grady Sutton as School Board President
Roger Corman, executive producer of the film, was looking to produce a modern teen film similar to the ones he made in his early career during the 1960s, with the focus on current music of the time. The initial title Disco High was selected for a story idea from Allan Arkush and Joe Dante. A script was developed by Richard Whitley, Russ Dvonch and Joseph McBride. During this time, the film went through several different title changes including Heavy Metal Kids and Girl's Gym. Arkush directed the majority of the film, but Dante also helped when Arkush was suffering from exhaustion.
Corman originally wanted Cheap Trick or Todd Rundgren to play the band, but due to a conflict of schedules, he was forced to find an alternative. The Ramones were suggested by Paul Bartel, one of the actors in the film.
The genesis for the plot was a favorite story told to the film's original writer by his father, Raymond E. McBride of the Milwaukee Journal, who staged a walkout from his Superior (Wis.) Central High school in the 1920s.
The film was shot on the campus of the defunct Mount Carmel High School in South Central Los Angeles, that had been closed in 1976. The actual demolition of the school was used in the end of the film. The explosion of the school was so great that many on the set were scared away by the blast and, temporarily, would not return. Another location was at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, California. The American football uniforms and cheer-leading outfits were those from MCHS.
The film was originally released to theaters on August 24, 1979.
Rock 'n' Roll High School was originally released on VHS by Warner Home Video in 1983, and was later released on VHS in 1996 by New Horizons Home Video (OCLC 36127344). One year later, in 1997, it was released on DVD by Lumivision. A second DVD release occurred in 1999 from Slingshot. Shortly after Joey Ramone's death in 2001, a third DVD release came out from New Concorde. The movie was released on DVD again in 2005 by Buena Vista Home Entertainment (ISBN 978-0-7888-6342-4 OCLC 62756806). DVDs were released in the PAL format by Umbrella Entertainment in 2003 (OCLC 223658430) and again in 2007 (OCLC 368008921).
The film is a part of Shout! Factory's Roger Corman Cult Classics series, reissued on DVD in May 2010. Shout! Factory released the film with exclusive content on Blu-ray on May 11, 2010 and again on November 19, 2019 with a new 4K restoration.
|Christgau's Record Guide||B|
|The New York Times||(favourable)|
A soundtrack album on Sire/Warner Bros. Records was released around the same time, but it included only a limited number of songs from the film. The two main Ramones songs in the film—the title song and "I Want You Around"—were recorded by Ed Stasium but remixed by Phil Spector for the soundtrack album. The original Ed Stasium mixes were not issued until the compilation album Ramones Mania (1988) and the compilation album Hey! Ho! Let's Go: The Anthology (1999), respectively.
|1.||"Rock 'n' Roll High School" (Phil Spector remix)||Ramones||Ramones||2:20|
|2.||"I Want You Around" (Phil Spector remix)||Ramones||Ramones||3:04|
|3.||"Come On Let's Go" (Cover of Ritchie Valens, 1959)||Ritchie Valens||The Paley Brothers and Ramones||2:14|
|4.||"Ramones Medley: Blitzkrieg Bop / Teenage Lobotomy / California Sun / Pinhead / She's the One" (recorded live at The Roxy, Los Angeles)||Ramones, Henry Glover, Morris Levy||Ramones||11:04|
|5.||"So It Goes" (from Pure Pop for Now People, 1978)||Lowe||Nick Lowe||2:31|
|6.||"Energy Fools the Magician" (from Before and After Science, 1977)||Eno||Brian Eno||2:05|
|1.||"Rock 'n' Roll High School"||Ramones||P. J. Soles||2:12|
|2.||"Come Back Jonee" (from Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, 1978)||Gerald V. Casale, Mark Mothersbaugh||Devo||3:47|
|3.||"Teenage Depression" (from Teenage Depression, 1976)||Dave Higgs||Eddie and the Hot Rods||2:57|
|4.||"Smokin' In the Boys Room" (from Yeah!, 1973)||Cub Koda, Michael Lutz||Brownsville Station||2:57|
|5.||"School Days" (single, 1957)||Berry||Chuck Berry||2:44|
|6.||"A Dream Goes on Forever" (from Todd, 1974)||Rundgren||Todd Rundgren||3:26|
|7.||"School's Out" (from School's Out, 1972)||Alice Cooper, Glen Buxton, Michael Bruce, Dennis Dunaway, Neal Smith||Alice Cooper||2:24|
Other songs appearing in the film include the following:
- Bent Fabric – "Alley Cat"
- Brian Eno – "Spirits Drifting"
- Brian Eno – "Alternative 3"
- Brian Eno – "M386"
- Fleetwood Mac – "Albatross"
- Fleetwood Mac – "Jigsaw Puzzle Blues"
- Paul McCartney – "Did We Meet Somewhere Before?"
- MC5 – "High School"
- The Paley Brothers – "You're the Best"
- The Velvet Underground – "Rock & Roll"
As well as the following songs by the Ramones:
- "Blitzkrieg Bop"
- "Do You Wanna Dance?"
- "I Just Want to Have Something to Do"
- "I Wanna Be Sedated"
- "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend"
- "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker"
Rock 'n' Roll High School received generally positive reviews and has an 81% rating at Rotten Tomatoes based on reviews from 26 film critics. Rock 'n' Roll High School did well enough that Arkush and Whitley followed it up with a sequel, Rock 'n' Roll High School Forever (1991). This sequel was not as well received as its predecessor, as it received mixed to negative reviews, earning a 4.9/10 on IMDb and a 2.5/5 on Letterboxd.
- Koetting, Christopher T. (2009). Mind Warp!: The Fantastic True Story of Roger Corman's New World Pictures (illustrated ed.). Bristol, England, UK: Hemlock Books. p. 165. ISBN 978-0-9557774-1-7. OCLC 707141398. Retrieved September 29, 2012.
- G., Rob; C., Mike (September 2004). "P. J. Soles interview - Halloween, Carrie, Stripes". Icons Of Fright.com. Retrieved September 29, 2012.
- "Rock 'n' Roll High School Quotes". Stands4 LLC. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
- Sherman, Craig (July 2001). "Take Three: classic Corman film, examined". ArtsEditor. Retrieved January 15, 2007.
- Stafford, Jeff. "Rock'n'Roll High School". TCM.com. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
- Holmstrom, John (2001). "Remembering Joey Ramone". Punk. New York City, New York, USA: Ged Dunn. Retrieved September 29, 2012.
- "40 Years Ago, the Ramones Roamed L.A. in "Rock 'n' Roll High School"". lamag.com. August 2, 2019. Retrieved September 13, 2020.
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- Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: R". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. New Haven: Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 978-0-89919-026-6. Retrieved March 12, 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
- Rockwell, John (June 8, 1979). "The Pop Life". nytimes.com. The New York Times.
- "Rock 'n' Roll High School (1979)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. 2012. Retrieved September 29, 2012.
- Drees, Rich (July 31, 2008). "Stern Picks Writer For ROCK AND ROLL HIGH SCHOOL Redo". FilmBuffOnline. Retrieved July 31, 2008.
- Fleming, Michael (July 30, 2008). Gray, Timothy M. (ed.). "Stern sets 'Rock 'n' Roll' remake". Variety. Los Angeles, California, USA: Reed Business Information. ISBN 978-1-936168-42-2. ISSN 0042-2738. OCLC 806428356. Retrieved September 29, 2012.