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Allan Arkush's "Rock'n'Roll High School"
November 28, 2012 3:17 PM   Subscribe

Rock 'N' Roll High School, staring the Ramones, is one of the five greatest American films of all time. Well, five best movie musicals? At the very least, the scene of the band rolling down the high school halls and blaring "Do Ya Wanna Dance" with the teen archetypes (cheerleaders, jocks, geeks, etc.) following, clapping and dancing while brewing up the eventual explosion of the school, could be the most transcendent two minutes of any rock movie. - Eric Davidson, introducing his interview of director Allan Arkush
posted by Egg Shen (60 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
When I was a wee lad in the late 70s/early 80s, I had The Movie Channel and a couple parents of the "oh why bother" type.
Thusly, I watched RnRHS like a hundred times when I was 6.
It was one of my favorite movies, owing partly I think to its somewhat cartoonish (in a good way) nature.
You can imagine my surprise years later when I discovered that The Ramones were a real band and not just a live action Banana Splits.

I also watched Fantastic Planet several times that year and my third eye has never fully recovered.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 3:33 PM on November 28, 2012 [7 favorites]


the most transcendent two minutes of any rock movie

Well, using the "extending or lying beyond the limits of ordinary experience" definition of "transcendent" there's this....
posted by HuronBob at 3:37 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I submit that just about any two minutes of footage set to that song would be about equally transcendent. Like, paint drying. It's a damn good song is all I'm saying.
posted by Bookhouse at 3:40 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


HEY! HO! LET'S GO!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:42 PM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I thank the stars I once had the good sense to seeexperience the Ramones live in a small club. Like being on the business end of a buzzsaw for 50 minutes straight.

Oh, and The Ramones and P.J. Soles? That's some damned inspired casting.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:45 PM on November 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


Wikipedia tells me P.J. Soles is 62.

But my heart does not believe it.
posted by Egg Shen at 3:47 PM on November 28, 2012 [8 favorites]


Great clip but boy The Ramones really couldn't (or wouldn't) lip-sync.
posted by octothorpe at 3:47 PM on November 28, 2012


I'll go with "wouldn't". Or, more accurately, didn't give a fuck.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:48 PM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dee Dee looked so healthy in that clip.

If you consider yourself a Ramones fan and you have not yet watched End of the Century...

QUEENS, NY, REPRESENT!!!

Says the boy who never goes back and didn't learn to love them till he left, but still...
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 3:50 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


The band that changed my life. Bless 'em.

The R&RHS soundtrack was also my intro to Eno. I came for the punk but was fascinated by this odd instrumental, "Energy Fools the Magician". At the time, I had no idea how deeply I'd be diving into ambient waters.
posted by davebush at 3:52 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


GABBA GABBA
WE ACCEPT YOU
WE ACCEPT YOU
ONE OF US

Sorry, it just needed to be said.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 3:55 PM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I saw the Ramones 15 times from right on the stage and haven't been the same since.

That is all.
posted by sfts2 at 3:55 PM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


This movie on cable was my introduction to the Ramones. I loved the movie and loved the band but my 8-year-old self had no idea at all who they were or what was going on. It wasn't until a few years later when I finally discovered music that wasn't being played on the classic rock/top 40/oldies/country radio stations of Tulsa that I realized that they were a real band and not just invented for the movie.
posted by Dojie at 4:02 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rock 'N' Roll High School yt , staring the Ramones yt , is one of the five greatest American films of all time. Well, five best movie musicals? At the very least,

To clarify. Rock 'N' Roll High School, staring the Ramones, is one of the five greatest American films of all time. [unqualified] And those guys do stare.
posted by philip-random at 4:05 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


No discussion of Allan Arkush is complete without mentioning Deathsport, Heartbeeps, and the best film ever made, Get Crazy
posted by mikelieman at 4:20 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's the thing about the Ramones. They have serious cred, even with young kids who have never actually seen them. But, if all you know about them is their records, you really have no idea. The difference between a Ramones record and a live Ramones performance is the widest gulf imaginable. It's almost like two different bands.

I try to explain to my kids why that was one of my two or three favorite shows evar, but it's really hard to get it across convincingly. They just think it's awesome that I'm the only dad they know who has been to a Ramones show.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:20 PM on November 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


All I can say is that I knew this one woman, who had next to no interest in punk music, really liked me when she was willing to go sit through Rock'n'Roll High School with me. Then again, she did get me into John Coltrane. I consider the trade to have been fair.
posted by benito.strauss at 4:24 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seconding Get Crazy. That movie didn't make me wanna be a rock star, it made me want to be a stage manager.
posted by shecky57 at 4:25 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rock 'N' Roll High School holds the record in my movie collection for Film Owned on the Most Formats. Laserdisc, DVD, Blu Ray, and (inexplicably) UMD disc for the PSP. One of these days I'm going to track down a VHS copy on eBay just so I can feel like I have a complete set.

A framed movie poster also hangs in my kitchen.

I guess you could say I'm a fan.
posted by Aznable at 4:28 PM on November 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Here are several fine young men who I'm sure are gonna go far
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 4:34 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


There was a film with The Ramones in it that instantly changed the direction of my life. It wasn't Rock 'n Roll High School. It was The Blank Generation.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:50 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Rock'n'Roll High School" is one of the few flawless things ever made.
posted by The Whelk at 4:51 PM on November 28, 2012


the scene ... could be the most transcendent two minutes of any rock movie

Any scene with that much Clint Howard rockin' out is gonna be transcendent.
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:55 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


...Now I guess I'll have to tell 'em
That I got no cerebellum
Gonna get my Ph.D.
I'm a teenage lobotomy

posted by Jubal Kessler at 5:00 PM on November 28, 2012


Saw them in Providence, RI, in the mid-1980s... some small venue on the East Side.

Came out with my shirt torn, my nose bloody, my glasses broke, and pretty much deaf. One of the best nights of my life.

All of which is to say: Ramones = punk as fuck!
posted by jammy at 5:24 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also: Ramones covers Spider-Man!

Because, y'know, of course.
posted by jammy at 5:27 PM on November 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


If I were any more excited about this post I'd explode like a laboratory mouse.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:29 PM on November 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's funny to listen to old music now that the music has pushed the cultural envelopes around. Punk, New Wave, Funk and all the rest now all sound pretty much like harmless enjoyable pop to me. At the time it was all boundary pushing weirdness that just felt so cool and dangerous.

I can't imagine what it is like for kids to hear it now without the context it originally inhabited and changed.

Sigh. I'm old.
posted by srboisvert at 5:32 PM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know, srb, it's an old and cliche line, but punk's not dead! Maximum Rocknroll, which at this point is I think the oldest still-publishing zine, does a weekly podcast mixing new and old stuff. You can find it right here.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:34 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Punk's not dead ( undead undead )
posted by The Whelk at 5:41 PM on November 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


Mary Woronov needs to play Dr. Frank N. Furter someday.
posted by pxe2000 at 5:47 PM on November 28, 2012


I went to see The Ramones at the LA Street Scene in 1985. I was living downtown on Traction Avenue and I just walked 3 blocks over and there it all was. But it turned into a riot and The Ramones got cancelled. I recently discovered film of the riot, from behind police lines and unfortunately you can't see the actual riot. Go to about 11:30 and you will see the LAPD Mounted Police carrying 4 foot long riot batons, with the Riot Squad lined up behind them. They are marching up 1st Street and are about to charge across the Civic Center Plaza, where I was in front of the main stage. There was a minor panic when someone started dumping over 55gal drums full of water that were set up as crowd barriers. People started running away from the flowing water, and the LAPD thought it was a riot, so they charged recklessly into the crowd. Then it did turn into a riot. One mounted policeman swung his baton right at my head, I ducked and he smashed in the face of the guy standing right next to me. I decided to get the fuck out of there. I was seriously disappointed that I did not get to see The Ramones but relieved I wasn't trampled by horses.

I heard through my clubgoing friends that The Ramones were doing an unannounced gig the next friday, look in the club listings for Ramones spelled backwards. Holy crap, Senomar was playing at the Whiskey A Go Go. I went and it was the only time I ever got to see The Ramones. I actually crashed right into Joey Ramone as he was coming down the stairs to take the stage.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:55 PM on November 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


I love the Ramones as much as any pogo-er can but the first thing I think whenever I watch that damn movie is "This is what the beats must have felt when Maynard G. Krebs showed up on American TV screens."
posted by mediareport at 6:08 PM on November 28, 2012


I saw The Ramones at Randy's Rodeo in San Antonio in the spring of '79. Best show ever.
posted by Daddy-O at 6:12 PM on November 28, 2012


srboisvert - Thanks for that comment. You articulated something I've felt for years. The punk/new wave era struck at exactly the right time for me - my first year of high school. I'm happy I got to experience it, but sad that my daughter will never understand how thrilling it was. Plus - we had to work for our rewards. I'd discover some obscure band's EP via Trouser Press, then hunt for it clawing through countless record store import bins. My daughter? She gets complete live gigs from any band she chooses with a mouse click.
posted by davebush at 6:20 PM on November 28, 2012


28 songs in 63 minutes
posted by bmarkey at 6:37 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't imagine what it is like for kids to hear it now without the context it originally inhabited and changed.

This is when I usually pull out this PDF I made of Melody Maker magazine, December 10, 1977 (warning 68Mb file but really worth it). Go to page 36 and look at the US and UK Top Thirty Singles. This is the context, the crap that people called music that was the only thing ever on the radio, and drove us all so crazy that we were desperate for any alternative:

1. Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue, Crystal Gayle
2. How Deep Is Your Love, Bee Gees
3. You Light Up My Life, Debbie Boone
4. Baby, What A Big Surprise, Chicago

I can't stand any more. I'll skip the rest, which includes other alleged music by Dolly Parton, Carpenters, Bay City Rollers, Leif Garrett, etc.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:48 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


DO YOUR PARENTS KNOW THAT YOU'RE RAMONES??

But seriously, I watched this movie to the point of memorization in high school. I went as Riff Randall for Halloween. Still love it to death.
posted by skycrashesdown at 6:55 PM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


bmarkey, I was just about to post that link myself. A real treat for both the kids who will never get a chance to hear them live and those of us who did.
posted by KingEdRa at 7:02 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of course, theres the sequel.
posted by reverend cuttle at 7:16 PM on November 28, 2012


I don't know if it's covered in the article itself, but it needs to be said that originally, the movie was supposed to star Cheap Trick. Who turned it down.

Which is a damn good thing, because it IS a Ramones movie.
posted by Curious Artificer at 7:35 PM on November 28, 2012


According to Wikipedia - Their only record with enough U.S. sales to be certified gold was the compilation album Ramones Mania.

If that's true, I'm stunned.
posted by davebush at 7:39 PM on November 28, 2012


They never made any real money at it. That's why Johnny literally forced Joey, and Dee Dee, and a couple of other replacement Ramones to tour endlessly in a bus for years and years and years.

It was said upthread, but really, watch End of the Century. It's a great, but ultimately very sad, story.
posted by Curious Artificer at 7:46 PM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is one of those movies that I, with my mom working nights and my dad working out of town, I would see staying up really, really late and watching USA's Up All Night, which, due to my only being half awake, being only 12, and not really comprehending what I was seeing, I figured was part of a hallucination memory. I didn't even know, actually, what the Ramones were, and only later after accidentally catching the movie again when I was adult, did I realize that the movie actually had the real-life Ramones in it, and it wasn't something I made up all in my head. I should really watch it again, now another 15 or 20 years since the last time I watched it, since it is apparently on the level of Citizen Kane.
posted by AzraelBrown at 8:02 PM on November 28, 2012


my first exposure to the Ramones was sneaking into New York City and going to CBGB with some friends. I was 14. it was awesome and amazing and it blew my mind out of my head.

I miss them.
posted by mephron at 8:18 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Does Your Mother Know You're Ramones?

Man, this movie was my introduction to punk rock as a concept and got me hanging out with the punk kids and...well, let's just say it's kind of weird that a movie I caught on USA Today or Comedy Central when I was staying up way too late was life-changing, but I totally see where the path of my life (or at least my musical taste) was shaped by Rock N Roll High School.

I caught them in '96 when they were on the Lollapalooza bill, so I know I was a late-arriving scrub, but they were fantastic. I always admired CJ because he managed to play the whole set with at least one middle finger extended while staying (relatively) on the beat.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:18 PM on November 28, 2012


I love the Ramones, and I get where you are coming from but "How Deep is Your Love" is one of the single greatest songs ever written.
I can imagine that it must have been suffocating to deal with back in the monoculture of 1978, but that song removed from baggage and cultural context is a god damn cathedral.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:33 PM on November 28, 2012


during Expo86 in Vancouver, the independent artist show featuring Vancouver band Slow was shut down, resulting in parading punk kids yelling "Expo Injustice!" This continued until CBC's live newscast from the Expo site was shut down.
They cut right to the late night movie, and, you guessed it, the scheduled feature was Rock'n'Roll Highschool. I enjoyed that particular newscast.
posted by chapps at 10:34 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wikipedia tells me P.J. Soles is 62.
But my heart does not believe it.


You say that like 62 "old" or something, which is just nonsense. I mean, I'm 58 and I'm not old, right?

Right?
posted by she's not there at 12:42 AM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Of course, theres the sequel.

Oh. Look, I'm no huge Ramones fan (I like them and all), and I've only watched R&RHS a few times in my life, but I really don't think Corey Feldman & The Eradicators could really replace The Ramones.

I cannot imagine this film being anything other than awful.
posted by Mezentian at 1:01 AM on November 29, 2012


One of the few good things about being a high school kid in Connecticut in the 80's was that the Ramones would swing through like clockwork: Toad's, The Agora, even saw them at UCONN once, maybe the El N Gee Club too, I think.

Of course, my folks hated the music and the condition I came back from the shows in, but my opera-loving, former classical-music-usher dad *loved* Rock 'n' Roll High School. He just thought it was a "hoot", as they say. It was one of the few movies--not opera--he recorded on VHS. We'd sit and watch it together-my younger sister too-when we got together around the holidays. Aww.
posted by Gotanda at 1:52 AM on November 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


"People started running away from the flowing water, and the LAPD thought it was a riot, so they charged recklessly into the crowd."

That's called a Police Riot.
posted by idiopath at 5:26 AM on November 29, 2012


It will take me days to get White Riot out of my head now.
posted by Mezentian at 5:43 AM on November 29, 2012


RAMONES
THE WHO
ROLLING STONES
TED NUGENT
LED ZEPPELIN
JETHRO TULL
FOREIGNER
PETER FRAMPTON
KANSAS
DONNY AND MARIE
DEBBIE BOONE
PAT BOONE
MUZAK
posted by Cookiebastard at 7:32 AM on November 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Ramones were my Grateful Dead.
posted by whuppy at 7:39 AM on November 29, 2012


I have a sad Ramones story.

I had tickets to a bar in Phoenix to see them. I was 17, my friends were also 17, but one girl with us was a tiny 14 year-old. None of us were carded getting in, except for Tiny.

Like an ass, I did the nice thing and sat out in the car with her instead of going inside to watch the show.

How did a responsible young lady, such as myself, EVER get into the Ramones?

On the upside, I did meet them at the Record Store earlier in the day and got my disc autographed.

Nice kids, but I miss Joey most of all.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:39 AM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


An absolute classic. Looks like the entire movie is on YouTube. If you haven't seen it yet...don't delay!
posted by davidmsc at 11:21 AM on November 29, 2012


ALSO: PJ was indeed hot - but Kate was far hotter.
posted by davidmsc at 11:23 AM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, Dee Dee Ramone, where have you gone?
In misery all day long
To shoot some dope right in to your arm...

posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:39 AM on December 3, 2012


Cookiebastard, that's an interesting list though I take issue with Jethro Tull being only level above Foreigner, yet Foreigner being six levels removed from muzak. Needs some work there.

And where's Grand Funk?
posted by philip-random at 10:42 AM on December 3, 2012


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