Cameron Crowe was 22 years old when he persuaded the principal at San Diego's Clairemont High School to let him pose as a student for a year. Crowe had felt caged in by the moral rigidity of his own Catholic high school, and when his New York publisher summoned him to discover what "the kids" were up to these days, he jumped at the chance to plunge into the storied sea of sex, drugs and shitty academia of the public school system. Once there, Crowe found inspiration for the character of surfer-stoner messiah Jeff Spicoli and the general filthy, beach-bum, partying lifestyle that he immortalized in his book Fast Times at Ridgemont High in 1981. Just a year later, Crowe made his screenwriting debut with the film version of that book—and Catholic high schoolers across America rejoiced by watching the Phoebe Cates pool scene over and over and over again.

  • Showing at: Academy.
  • Best paired with: Firestone Pale 31.
  • Also showing: Escape From New York (Hollywood).