Saturday, October 10, 2009

Junior High School

#22 in an occasional series of repressed 70's memories that turn out to be true.

I don't usually post two 70s entries so close to each other. I like you to think I am more well-rounded than this. After all, the President just won the Nobel Prize, the next door neighbors have moved out, and the news down the Mill is outragous as always. But I went looking for a beloved treasure whose songs I once knew by heart.

The only lines I can remember right now are
This is called a band saw/The blade can slice a tree
Be careful when you use it/Or you'll be an amputee.

Junior High School, the 1978 musical short that would have been lost forever if the ingenue had not grown up to be Paula Abdul. In its day, this bizarro and painfully accurate portrayal of Junior High (I myself was 14 and ghastly) was on The Movie Channel whenever Same Time Next Year was not. I knew them both by heart.

Cue theme music.
Tonight the DrawingIn Room does what it does best. Or at least most often:
Trolls the net for things you would rather not spend time on.
The main lesson of this particular department on this particular blog is that life is not harder for kids these days and the world is not at all a meaner place. Today's kids would not last one week on the banana-seat mean streets of our day. We are not better people than they will be because of it. I am just saying...
That they are pansies.
The plot: (from the film's facebook fan page)

Jerry (P. David Ebersole) wants to ask Lori (Karen Capelle) to Sherri's (Paula Abdul) party but she seems to be going with Bill AND Bob. Fearing he might end up with the dreaded Karen, Jerry decides to take Paul's advice and just ask her. Easier said than done, especially with the evil nerd Keith terrorizing the halls.

You may also remember this plot from your sad high-water slacks life.

The party, though hosted by Sherri, is actually at Julie's house because her folks are out of town. Folks were always out of town. Sixties parents were throwing cocktail bashes and progressive gin parties in their own homes, but seventies parents were god knows where.

You know Paula plays the popular girl because of her exceptional curling iron proficiency.
 Not long after Alan Parker made that freakshow Bugsy Malone, in which child actors were dubbed with adult voices (worst Jodie Foster film ever? Not if you have seen Svengali)

Sorry, I distracted you with that. That was unfair. About Junior High School...

Not long after Bugsy Malone, director Michael Nankin shot Junior High School using real jr high kids, some with more talent than others, but most with very little at all.
Roger Ebert tells how it got made.

This is Michael Nankin's website. There is nothing on it.   literally.
Michael Nankin... Nan--kin... stop doing your stagey head scratching and snap your fingers, HARD.  He's the Battlestar Galactica Guy. Here is an interview with him by a guy who should help him with his website.

Nankin was a young film student, collaborating with writers David Wechter, Helyn Spears, and Steve Jacobson (who according to IMDB did nothing else with himself) who created Junior High. Helyn went on to become an editor and professional name-changer.   But she has an Emmy and I don't.

In 37 minutes, it packs in production numbers, multiple plotlines, and a surprising lot of jockstrap and titty talk.  We were jaded beyond our years.  See also Foxes.
Notice that the gym teacher is named Miss van Dyke.

You can watch the whole film on You Tube, but only in You Tube style chunks. Picklepuss' channel seems to have all of them. 

Interesting side note: The filmmakers received the Golden Knight award in 1978 for their achievement. This is an amateur film award (an award for amateur film; I am sure the award itself is professional. Or professionally ripped off from the Academy award) sponsored by the Malta Cine Circle.

Malta?   hunh.
I am unable to uncover how this little film by some 2nd year film studentds made its way to Malta.
Other things that are Maltese.

I am going to admit that any snicker that may have elicited was not worth the effort it took to make that image. And it was off-message anyway.

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