01 December 2007

Cameron Crowe. Fast Times at Ridgemont High, 1981.

Cameron Crowe. FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH. A TRUE STORY. Simon & Schuster, New York, 1981.

Current Selling Prices
$200-$400 / £100-£200

It is known that as preparation for writing his book, Crowe spent a year at Clairemont High School in Redondo Beach, California posing as a student. He was 19 but apparently freshfaced enough to pass for 16. This was done with the permission of the school administration and it allowed Crowe first hand exposure to American high school life of the early 1980s. The characters in the book and movie are based on real people and are uncannily realistic - it is claimed that all of the events described in the book actually happened. This is probably what gives the book (and the subsequent movie) its enduring appeal and differentiates it from other "teen angst" products of the time. Most memorable character was the permanently stoned, bong-addled surfer Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn) who has now re-appeared in various incarnations and pastiches including Bill & Ted movies and the Saturday Night Live skit "Wayne's World," and its subsequent movies. The film and the book are not known outside of America but no one gives a toss.

VALUE? The book and the film may be becoming a little passé and certainly the book is making less than it did 5 years back--possibly because there is an over supply of copies. The classic common 'rare book.' It is on every part time bookscouts hitlist and a hardy perennial at Ebay. Last week a copy that appeared, from the sellers pics, to be without fault made $159 on Ebay and sharp copies never fall beneath $100 and some Herbert, not a million miles from Tennessee, wants $750 for each of his two near fine copies. Fine/ fine copies can be bought at ABE for $225 and there are about 30 decent copies for sale -some are described as 'very rare' and one as:
'Extremely rare and hard-to-find! Dj is nicely preserved in a brand new protective mylar plastic cover! Very very scarce! 253 very clean, unmarked and uncreased historical pages! Wonderfully well-preserved!'

TRIVIA. Cameron Crowe made the interesting but pretentious movie 'Vanilla Sky'. Of note is his commentary which can be heard in the DVD 'extras' - where he annotates and discusses the significance of ridiculous minutiae as if the movie were Citizen Kane or Battleship Potemkin. Good for a laugh.

TRIVIAL TRIVIA. A fantasy sequence in which Phoebe Cates exits a pool and removes her bright red bikini top in slow motion to the beat of The Cars' "Moving in Stereo" was probably the most popular section of the film. Many video store owners reported that returned VHS copies of the film had tracking errors during this scene.

Nicolas Cage appears in the movie under his given name, Nicolas Coppola.


hedeson said...

The high school was not in Redondo Beach it was in San Diego, I went there and was the class of 84. Our senior year both Cameron Crowe and The actual guy that Mark Ratners character was based on came to our school and did a presentation on what it was like and how the book was written. My public speaking teacher (Ms. Jay) was one of the only teachers that new what he was there for. She also got into some trouble when the book did come out, about a demostration speech a kid did that year with a bong, and actually brought it to class. Why is the actual high school never mentioned?

Anonymous said...

all info these days comes from Wikipedia if you want to change it or provide new insights go there...you are entitled. Jazzbo

Anonymous said...

hedeson is correct --I went to Clairemont High school as well and it is in San Diego off Clairmont Mesa drive. It was a wonderful school and I have similiar great memories of the school, teachers and fellow classmantes.