The 1980's in Hollywood was filled with more high school movies about slackers and smart-alecks than anyone actually needed, especially when it came to featuring students who looked like they were older than the teachers. Summer School was always perhaps the most underrated of the decade’s tributes to academic slackers because what it lacked in the typical star power of, say, a John Hughes film, it more than made up for in creating arguably one of the most creative collection of “teenage” misfits than any film of the genre. At the same time, it showed that Mark Harmon, who was probably best known at the time for his role as the HIV-positive Dr. Robert Caldwell on St. Elsewhere, had a strong sense of comedy, while also confirming (along with her debut on Cheers that same year) that Kirstie Alley was much, much more than just a really attractive Vulcan.
On this episode, Tim Williams and guest co-host Laramy Wells, share their memories (from Tim) and first-time reactions (from Laramy) of this 80's Summer comedy classic.
Here are additional behind the scenes trivia that we were not able to cover on this episode: Carl Reiner was 65 years old when he directed Summer School, an odd choice for a film about youth. But, that might explain why Summer School is a somewhat more innocent teen film than those of the ‘80s – while some of the ‘80s high school tropes are in the film (like Chainsaw and Dave’s obsession with Anna-Maria’s figure), it’s really kind of a sweet film about the kids who get lost in the system and a gym teacher who realizes he’s the only one who cares about them.
If Courtney Thorne-Smith looks just a little irritated when she’s dreamily looking out the window, it’s because she was. While filming Pam's window gazing scene, Dean Cameron got a case of the giggles that spread to Harmon, and then to the rest of the class. Thorne-Smith had to do several takes. Cameron says she was not amused and as soon as Reiner said, "cut!" they all scurried to their trailers to save them from her wrath. As they ran, Reiner could be heard saying to the guys, "You've been naughty boys! Naughty, naughty boys!"
The last actor to be cast was Richard Steven Horvitz, who played nerd Alan Eakian. Dean Cameron and Horvitz say the delay was because the character was supposed to be Jewish, originally had the last name Goldbergian and that the script was full of “Jew jokes.” Horvitz says he’s only half-Jewish, so they revised the script including changing his last name to Eakian, which is Armenian. Alan wasn’t the only character to change based on casting. Anna-Maria was originally written to be Danish, rather than Italian.
Richard Steven Horvitz says he freaked out the first time he saw Patrick Labyorteaux. Special effects makeup artist Rick Baker was making a mask of his face for the horror scene but could see just a tad out of the eyeholes. When Labyorteaux walked in, Horvitz says he pointed at him (while his face was covered in plaster) and shouted, “Andy Garvey!,” the name of Labyorteaux’ character on the TV series “Little House on the Prairie.” From that point on, Horvitz – who says he was a huge “Little House on the Prairie” fan, said he’d quote lines to him from the show and constantly ask questions about filming it. The two grew to be great friends.
Sources: 80smovieguide.com, uproxx.com, and boxofficemojo.com
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