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History Of Teen Movies

Hollywood Teen Movies looks at 70 years of Teen Movie History from Mickey Rooney's "Love Finds Andy Hardy" (1938) to the Best Picture Nominated "Juno" (2008) and of course everything in between.

The Early Years (Pre-1950)

During the Hollywood of the 1930s and 1940s movies specifically about teens were rare, the exception being the long running Andy Hardy film series starring then-teenager Mickey Rooney. The film series ran for nearly 10 years and produced an output of at least 15 big screen entries. “Love Finds Andy Hardy” (1938), co-starring Hollywood darling Judy Garland was probably the most popular entry in the series and arguably the first bona-fide romantic teen comedy. In 2000, the filmwas selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

The 1950s

For many, the 1950s was the decade which marked the birth of the Hollywood Teen Movie. Leather jackets, motorcycles, rock ‘n’ roll and rebellious youths were introduced to the world. It was a period that launched the careers of Marlon Brando (“The Wild One”, 1953), James Dean (“Rebel Without A Cause”, 1955) and of course Elvis Presley (“King Creole”, 1958). Juvenile delinquency had arrived in film when the groundbreaking high school drama, “Blackboard Jungle” (1955) burst onto the screen, with a lively opening credit sequence that featured the Billy Haley smash hit “Rock Around The Clock”. Arguably the first JD film ever made, “Blackboard Jungle” left its mark on teen audiences with its jolting sound and gritty depiction of troubled youth. The film and its soundtrack made such an impact that it inspired a string of teen rock ‘n’ roll musicals that featured popular singers of the day.  Rocker Bill Hayley led the pack with “Rock Around The Clock” (1956) and its sequel “Don’t Knock The Rock” (1956).

The 1960s

The 1960s marked the beginning of the ‘Teen Beach Party Movies’ which made household names of stars like Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Fabian Forte and Deborah Walley. The original “Beach Party” (1963) released through American International Pictures and starring Frankie and Annette made such a splash with its fusion of color, skimpy bikinis, sand, surf and blue-screen wave riding that numerous sequels and spinoffs followed throughout the decade. It was a formula of music, romance and comedy that teens loved but unfortunately made real wave riders cringe in their seats. The 1960s was also the decade that took the success of the 1959 Sandra Dee smash hit “Gidget” to the next level with two popular film sequels starring two new Gidget’s; “Gidget Goes Hawaiian” (1961) with Deborah Walley and “Gidget Goes To Rome” (1963) with Cindy Carol, the common dominator in all three Gidget films being heartthrob and crooner James Darren as Moondoggie. The Gidget phenomenon didn’t just stop there when in 1965, a spin-off “Gidget” TV series starring Sally Field hit the small screen. However, by the end of the 1960s the fun in the sun had come to an end and teens had hung up their surfboards.

The 1970s

By the 1970s teens were now getting ready for long-hair, flared pants and subsequently the disco boom. The Teen Movies of the 1970's were a real mixed bag, from the emotional drama of "Love Story" (1970), to the nostalgic George Lucas classic "American Graffiti" (1973), to the Motown high school comedy “Cooley High” (1975), to The Beatles inspired time capsule “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” (1978), to the crazy antics and raunchiness of "National Lampoon’s Animal House" (1978), to the cool riders and huge waves of “Big Wednesday” (1978), the 1970's certainly had it all. Juvenile delinquency also found its place during the decade with a string of teen movies falling into the “street gangs” sub-genre. Films such as the low-budget gang-flick “The Lords Of Flatbush” (1974) introduced cinemagoers to leather-clad-greasers, Sylvester Stallone and Henry Winkler, while the gritty violence of “The Warriors” (1979) unleashed a youthful Michael Beck as a Coney Island gang leader. The slickest of them all, however, would probably be the tuneful, gang-rivalry classic, “The Wanderers” (1979), with brooding beefcake Ken Wahl steaming up the screen and the forever-cool Dion title track leaving a lasting impression. All these “street gangs” films found their audience but the decade soared to even greater heights when the blockbuster teen musical returned with a bang, in the form of two classic John Travolta dance flicks, "Saturday Night Fever" (1977) and "Grease" (1978).

The 1980s

The 1980s was the decade where teen movies were not only most prevalent but possibly reached a peak in terms of quality and popularity. Who can forget; "Porky's", “The Last American Virgin”, "Sixteen Candles", “The Karate Kid”, "The Breakfast Club", “Back To The Future”, "Pretty In Pink", "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", "Can't Buy Me Love" and “Say Anything” to name just a few. The decade is remembered for its fashion, flair, big-hair, new-wave music, the Brat Pack and of course a teen movie director by the name of John Hughes.

The 1990s

The teen films of the early 1990's were a mish-mash of sorts, ranging from straight to video films featuring former teen stars of the 80s that had now lost some of their shine (Corey Haim and Corey Feldman) together with a handful of popular big screen cinema releases showcasing a number of new faces. The decade saw the emergence of newcomers Christian Slater (“Pump Up The Volume”, 1990), Winona Ryder (“Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael, 1990), Richard Grieco (“If Looks Could Kill”, 1991), Brendan Fraser (“Encino Man”, 1992) and Kristy Swanson (“Buff The Vampire Slayer”, 1992), to mention just a few. However, it wasn’t until 1995 when Alicia Silverstone exploded onto the screen in the box office smash hit "Clueless", that the teen movie was back in style again and this time with a new superstar.

The 2000s

The teen movie craze has continued to flourish into the new millennium with films such as, the Kirsten Dunst cheerleader comedy "Bring It On" (2000), the Reese Witherspoon academic farce “Legally Blonde” (2001), the comic-book teen superhero “Spider-Man” (2002), the Amanda Bynes fish-out-water romance “What A Girl Wants” (2003), the Lindsay Lohan high school smash “Mean Girls” (2004), the uniquely likeable geek-fest Napoleon Dynamite (2004), the Hilary Duff fairytale “A Cinderella Story” (2004), the Brittany Snow revenge flick “John Tucker Must Die” (2006), the Hitchcockian teen thriller “Disturbia” (2007), the special effects fantasy “Transformers” (2007), the outrageously raunchy “Superbad” (2007) and the critically acclaimed Oscar winner “Juno” (2008).

Published 9th July 2008.

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Pictorial History Of Teen Movies:
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Classic Teen Movies Now Available On DVD:
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Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938) [DVD]
Fourth entry in MGM's perennially popular film series has Andy (Mickey Rooney) in trouble with steady gal Ann Rutherford when he's paid to escort a buddy's date (Lana Turner). Judy Garland makes her series debut as Andy's pal Betsy; with Lewis Stone, Fay Holden. 92 min. Standard; Soundtracks: English Dolby Digital mono, French Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English, Spanish, French; radio spot; theatrical trailers.

Blackboard Jungle (1955) [DVD]
Richard Brooks' gritty look at life inside the inner-city high school stars Glenn Ford as the earnest teacher determined to reach his hood students. Great support from Sidney Poitier, Anne Francis, Vic Morrow, Louis Calhern; soundtrack includes historic film debut of "Rock Around the Clock." 100 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtracks: English Dolby Digital mono, French Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English, Spanish, French; audio commentary; theatrical trailer; bonus short "Blackboard Jumble" (1957).

Beach Party (1963) / Bikini Beach (1964) [DVD]
The first entry in A.I.P.'s surfside slapstick series, "Beach Party" stars Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello as fun-loving teens who become the subject of anthropologist Bob Cummings' research into adolescent mating rituals. With Morey Amsterdam, Dorothy Malone, Dick Dale and The Del-Tones, and Harvey Lembeck as Eric Von Zipper. Next, Frankie plays himself and mop-topped British pop idol the Potato Bug (get it?)--and both are vying for Annette's attention--in "Bikini Beach," co-starring Don Rickles, Keenan Wynn, Little Stevie Wonder, and Boris Karloff. 198 min. total. Widescreen; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: French, Spanish; theatrical trailers.

Porky's (1982) (The One Size Fits All Edition) [DVD]
Gut-busting comedy about youthful shenanigans in 1950s Florida that follows a group of hormone-driven high school buddies to a rowdy bar named Porky's and through one wacky experience after another. Surprise box office hit stars Roger Wilson, Kim Cattrall, Scott Colomby, Dan Monahan; directed by Bob Clark. 98 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtracks: English Dolby Digital stereo, Dolby Digital mono, Spanish Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English, Spanish; audio commentary by Clark; featurettes.

Pretty In Pink (1986) (Everything's Duckie Edition) [DVD]
Molly Ringwald and Andrew McCarthy are star-crossed high school lovers from opposite sides of the track. Will their romance survive peer pressure in time for the prom? Seriocomedy written by John Hughes co-stars Jon Cryer as Ringwald's best friend; with Annie Potts, Harry Dean Stanton. 96 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtracks: English Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital stereo Surround, French Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English; audio commentary; featurette; deleted scenes; photo gallery; interviews; alternate ending.

American Pie (1999) (Ultimate Edition) [DVD]
Riotous, raunchy coming-of-age romp focuses on four high school seniors who make a pact to lose their virginity by graduation. Their attempts--ranging from awkward Jason Biggs' Internet-broadcast encounter with foreign exchange student Shannon Elizabeth to jock Chris Klein's joining a singing club to impress studious Mena Suvari--teach the boys hilarious lessons about love. With Thomas Ian Nicholas, Natasha Lyonne, Alyson Hannigan, and Tara Reid. 96 min. Standard and Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtracks: English DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1; Subtitles: English (SDH), Spanish; audio commentary; deleted scenes; music video; theatrical trailer. Includes a sneak peek at "American Pie 2." Two-disc set.

Mean Girls (2004) (Widescreen Version) [DVD]
Tina Fey scripted and co-stars in this sharp comedy, based on the book by Rosalind Wiseman. Teenager Lindsay Lohan, after being home-schooled in Africa by her zoologist parents, suddenly winds up in a suburban Illinois high school. But not even growing up in the jungle could have prepared Lohan for the struggles she now faces, especially when she starts dating the most popular girl in school's ex-boyfriend. With Rachel McAdams, Lacey Chabert, Tim Meadows, Amy Poehler. 96 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtracks: English Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital Surround, French Dolby Digital 5.1; Subtitles: English, Spanish; audio commentary by Fey, others; featurettes; deleted scenes; theatrical trailer.

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