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With: P.J. Soles, Vincent Van Patten, Clint Howard, Dey Young, Mary Woronov, Paul Bartel, Dick Miller, Joey Ramone, Johnny Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone, Marky Ramone
Written by: Richard Whitley, Russ Dvonch, Joseph McBride, based on a story by Allan Arkush, Joe Dante
Directed by: Allan Arkush
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 93
Date: 08/04/1979

Rock 'n' Roll High School (1979)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This is the second greatest rock and roll movie ever made. The Ramones are and always have been one of Rock's great bands and this Roger Corman-produced classic is a perfect homage to them. When it was made, the Ramones were but five years old, with four superb super-speed albums released in less than three years. (See End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones.) Lots of that music is heard here.

The great P.J. Soles (Halloween, Stripes) plays the Ramones' #1 fan, with a big crush on Joey. (She loves the way he eats pizza.) The movie is actually pretty low on Seventies kitsch and on Punk retro. It makes a nice niche for itself, stuck in time, much like the Ramones themselves. Ron Howard's brother Clint has a memorable role as the high school kid who can get you anything, with his office located inside a bathroom stall.

Another favorite is the "rockometer," which measures the scale of noise according to certain bands: (from Muzak and Pat Boone at the bottom to The Who and the Ramones at the top).

Co-writer Joseph McBride went on to write biographies of John Ford and Orson Welles, and is currently an honorary professor at San Francisco State University.

Buena Vista re-released Rock 'n' Roll High School on a new 2005 Special Edition DVD, including two commentary tracks, a making-of featurette, a trailer, radio ads, and audio outtakes from the Ramones concert at the Roxy. The transfer is letterboxed but contains quite a few scratches and film flaws and the audio is fine but not overwhelming. A 40th anniversary Blu-Ray was released in 2019.

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