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« Open Thread.What did I miss?| Main| Box Office Report - No Good Dolphin Tale »
Monday
Sep 15 2014

Back to School with,um,Back to School

Andrew herewith the late andlastback to school entry,which makes sense because the 1986 mega-hitBack to Schoolis all about heading back to school late.

Those first few back at school are always a hassle for students,sure.But,they're probably not that simple for the educators,either.Think about it.It's your first day teaching a new class of students.How do you make a great first impression so that they're interested in your class,not just for the first day,but for the rest of the semester?

With that in mind,watching both the students and lecturers at college navigate those first classes inBack to Schoolbecome even more interesting.Sixty year old Thornton Melon heads back to university as a show of solidarity to prevent his disillusioned son from dropping out.He's a virtual fish out of water adapting to lowly freshman life after being a business mogul for so many years.He has a number of unusual first week experiences with lecturers with varying degrees of success.But one emerges as particularly impressive;Thornton's first literature class.

What's a good way to ensure a first day in literature class isn't boring or stolid?Enter Sally Kellerman as Diane Turner in her red sweater,dishevelled hair and floral skirts.How to make the a great first impression to the students on this first day?No preamble,for her,she instead immediately launches into the reading of a passage from James Joyce'sUlysses...

"...And Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish Wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes."

Thornton is so overcome with emotion his mind is transported by the reading and he rises is excitement.

"Yes!Yes!Yes!Yes!"

Which teacher on the first day of school wouldn't love to get such an enthusiastic reaction from a student?Kellerman's literature professor is amused.

"Thanks for the vote of confidence,Mr.Melon.I think Joyce is pretty hot,too."

I've seenBack to Schoolatleast30 times (most of those before I was 13) so I'm never sure if my enduring appreciation for it is legitimate or nostalgic.For what a strange film it is.So many unanswered questions.What is Thornton's major supposed to be in?Why is he studying (seemingly) advanced literature?What's the name of the course and why does it involve Joyce's 30s prose and Thomas' 50s poetry?Still,If you enjoy watching Dangerfield doing his thing you'd likeBack to School.

A staple on local television during the back to school in every termBack to Schoolwasmyfirst experience to Dangerfield,Keith Gordon (who would leave acting to become a fairly impressive television director),(who appears in the film as the friend of Dangerfield's son),Robert Downey Jr,and of course the luminous Sally Kellerman who plays Dr.Diane Turner.In a film somewhat overwhelmed with testosterone her teacher/romantic love interest is not a particularly rich character.But,she does get second billing,and she is lovely to watch.Her opening scene reading Joyce is a great reminder that though she's most notable for playing gorgeous Major Margaret "Hot Lips"Houlihan (with the Oscar nomination to boot) she's got a lovely voice.

What's so nice aboutBack to Schoolin its ribald way is that it works to make sense.The initial excitement at Diane's literary expertise and Thornton's interest in it isn't a red herring but becomes an integral part defining moment of the film's coda when he must prove his devotion to college life by passing a series of ad hoc exams.For literature class he recites a passionate rendition of Dylan Thomas "Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night".

It only goes to show,when done right,that first day in class has potential to become an integral part of your entire scholastic experience.

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    It is the best school students educational website.The services are so much helpful for good students.These are all using to improve the school students education.

Reader Comments (6)

Andrew: If they wanted the course coherent (probably something on challenging/transgressive literature),I'd have opened with something recent but acclaimed and then built up to Ulysses later on.Maybe,since this is 1986,Martin Amis' Money would be a good start to the course?

September 15,2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I've seen this movie at least 20 times.One of the most hilarious films ever.Rodney is Rodney and that's enough.Sally is enchanting.Whoever that actor who plays Philip is a genius.And Ned Beatty as Dean Martin...HAHA!

Burt Young,M.Emmet Walsh,Sam Kinison--all doing great stuff.

A terrificly fun movie,no matter how old of a student you are.

Rodney to Robert Downey Jr.: "You look like the poster child for birth control."

Extremely quotable film!

September 15,2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I remember it being really funny.Will I regret typing this?

P.S.Where is Sally Kellerman?

September 15,2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Peggy,I haven't seen Sally doing any acting for a while.But her memoir came out last year,and it's supposedly terrific.

September 15,2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Rodney Dangerfield's best film,outside ofCaddyshack.

September 15,2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteven

Part of what makes this so enjoyable is what a very likable character Thorton Mellon is aided by Rodney's own warmth.He tries to give everybody a chance but can spot a jerk immediately.

Aside from the people brooksboy already named William Zabka plays a great preppy jackass with all that 80's hair and those tiny red speedos.Edie McClurg and her helium voice and Adrienne Barbeau both score with great little vignettes.

I've watched it innumerable times and stop whenever I run across it on TV and always watch at least a few minutes no matter where I pick up on it.

September 15,2014 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

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