Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

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Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a 1982 American coming-of-age teen comedy film written by Cameron Crowe and adapted from Crowe's 1981 book. As a freelance writer for Rolling Stone magazine, Crowe went undercover at a California high school and wrote about his experiences. The film was directed by Amy Heckerling and chronicles a school year in the lives of freshmen Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Mark Ratner (Brian Backer) and their respective older friends Linda Barrett (Phoebe Cates) and Mike Damone (Robert Romanus), both of whom believe themselves wiser in the ways of romance than their younger counterparts. The ensemble cast of characters form two subplots with Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn), a perpetually stoned surfer, facing off against uptight history teacher Mr. Hand (Ray Walston), and Stacy's brother, Brad (Judge Reinhold), a senior who obsesses about paying off his car and easing out of his relationship with his girlfriend. In addition to Penn, Reinhold, Cates and Leigh, this movie marks early appearances by several actors who also became stars, including Eric Stoltz, Nicolas Cage, Anthony Edwards and Forest Whitaker. Three of the actors who appeared in the film – Cage, Penn, and Whitaker – won the Academy Award for Best Actor later in their careers, with Penn winning twice. Crowe later became a celebrated Hollywood director and screenwriter, winning an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his movie Almost Famous.