Director: Amy Heckerling
Stars: Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold
Plot: A group of Southern California high school students are enjoying their most important subjects: sex, drugs and rock n' roll.
For his masturbation scene, Judge Reinhold brought a large dildo to work with, unbeknown to the rest of the cast. Phoebe Cates' look of horror and disgust is very real.
During shooting of the film, Sean Penn got so into character that he only answered as Spicoli. In fact, the door on his dressing room was labeled "Spicoli" instead of "Sean Penn."
Near the beginning of the movie, right after Mr. Hand sends Spicoli to the front office for being late to class, Mr. Hand passes out the class schedule of quizzes. After the paper is passed out, the students put the page up to their noses and deeply inhale. This was a popular school ritual of the '60s, '70s and early '80s as photocopying machines were very expensive, so spirit duplicators were used. The spirit duplicators used a colored wax as the "ink" and a noxious solvent as a transfer agent to impress the ink on the paper. These solvents sometimes took a long time to dry, hence the students' use of these solvents as a short-term "high".
Nicolas Cage appears under the name Nicolas Coppola for the first and only time. He lied about his age so that he could get a bigger part, but the producers found out that he was only 17.
Universal didn't think the film would become a hit. In fact, the studio had thought about not releasing it on the East Coast so that the film would die quickly at the box office.
According to Amy Heckerling, Sean Penn and pals were actually smoking marijuana in the van as they exited for the prom.
Sean Penn asked out Pamela Springsteen, who played Dina, on the set of the movie; she accepted.
Sean Penn improvised during his takes and tried to find ways to aggravate actor Ray Walston, who played Mr. Hand, even off camera. He also did things to get genuinely startled reactions from the extras who played his classmates through unexpected improvisations.
Andy Rathbone was the student Cameron Crowe based Mark "Rat" Ratner on. Rathbone was known as "the rat" in high school, and was initially extremely upset at the portrayal of his character. He said that Crowe only accentuated his bad attributes and gave cool things he had done to other characters, such as ordering a pizza during class - that was done by Jeff Spicolli in the film but done by Rathbone in real life. Crowe said he worked diligently to "disguise" all the characters and give them mixed personalities so as NOT to point to anyone specifically. Rathbone has since grown to appreciate the role.
The script caused a controversy because some actual first names of Clairemont High School students were used in Cameron Crowe's script.
Spicolli's dream sequence was actually written and filmed after the film was wrapped. After beginning the editing process, Amy Heckerling, Art Linson and Irving Azoff realized how great Spicoli had been acted by Sean Penn, and that they needed to beef up Penn's role in the film.
In the novel, Spicoli dreams he's singing "Highway to Hell" by AC/DC on The Tonight Show (1962), but Johnny Carson refused to do it for the movie, and other talk show hosts (including David Letterman) also turned it down (Letterman apparently was willing to do it, but his agent wouldn't let him appear in a movie where the characters did drugs). In its place was the scene where Spicoli is interviewed by sports announcer Stu Nahan.
Martin Brest is seen as a doctor during the student field trip - he would direct Judge Reinhold in Beverly Hills Cop (1984) a few years later.
Jennifer Jason Leigh actually worked at Perry's Pizza before she landed the part in the film.