By JOHN HARLOW | Editor-in-Chief
Sunday, Aug. 20, marked the 35th anniversary of the release of Amy Heckerling’s “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” based on a year-long undercover investigation into teen rituals at a San Diego high school by Rolling Stone journalist and future Palisadian Cameron Crowe.
The film not only made the writer and director’s reputations, but also introduced the world to future Oscar winners Sean Penn, Nicolas Cage (billed as Nicolas Coppola) and Forest Whitaker.
In 2005 the low-budget teen comedy was selected for preservation in the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”
It could have been very different.
Universal Studios wanted David Lynch, master of the meandering oddity, to direct it, Crowe told Hollywood Reporter last week.
The star of the movie remains the former Sherman Oaks Galleria, ground zero for the Ridgemont High social lives.
The filmmakers took it over after the stores closed every night for two months.
At one point, it would have starred Matthew Broderick, who went on to star in another teen classic, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” made by the late John Hughes. He credited “Fast Times,” after a shaky start, with making more realistic teen movies commercially viable in the 1980s.
First edition copies of Crowe’s 1981 book now sell for $300 on eBay, while the Palisadian went on to direct “Jerry Maguire,” “Almost Famous” and “Vanilla Sky.”