Valley Girl (film)

For other uses, see Valley girl (disambiguation).
Valley Girl

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Martha Coolidge
Produced by Wayne Crawford
Andrew Lane
Written by Wayne Crawford
Andrew Lane
Music by Richard Butler
The Plimsouls
The Payolas
Peter Case
Josie Cotton
Scott Wilk
Cinematography Frederick Elmes
Edited by Éva Gárdos
Valley 9000
Distributed by Atlantic Releasing
Release dates
April 29, 1983
Running time
99 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $350,000
$600,000 (With music rights)
Box office $17,343,596[1]

Valley Girl is a 1983 American romantic comedy film directed by Martha Coolidge, and stars Nicolas Cage, Deborah Foreman, Michelle Meyrink, Elizabeth Daily, Cameron Dye and Michael Bowen.

The American release of Valley Girl was April 29, 1983.[2] The plot is loosely based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.[3]


Julie Richman (Foreman) is a Valley girl who seems to have it all: good looks, popularity, and a handsome Valley dude boyfriend, Tommy (Bowen), but she is having second thoughts about her relationship with the arrogant and selfish Tommy. At the end of a shopping trip with her friends, Loryn (Daily), Stacey (Heidi Holicker), and Suzi (Meyrink), Julie runs into Tommy and breaks up with him. Later that day at the beach, Julie trades shy glances with a young man in the distance.

That night, at a party at Suzi's house, Julie locks eyes with Randy (Cage), a Hollywood punk who has crashed the party with his friend, Fred (Dye). They hit it off well, especially after Julie learns that Randy was the young man at the beach earlier. Tommy is jealous, and tries to bed Loryn. He fails and gets his cronies to eject Randy and Fred from the party. Undaunted, Randy sneaks back into the house, and hides in an upstairs bathroom shower. Randy waits in the shower for Julie to enter the bathroom as various partygoers come and go, talking about and trying to have sex, and doing drugs. When Julie eventually does enter, Randy convinces her to leave the party with him. Julie brings a very reluctant Stacey along for the ride with Randy and Fred. While at Randy's favorite Hollywood nightclub, Julie and Randy rapidly grow closer as Stacey continually rebuffs Fred's advances.

Julie's friends, dismayed by her relationship with Randy, pressure her to drop him and get back together with Tommy. Julie asks her father (Frederic Forrest) for advice, and he kindly tells her that she should follow her heart. Despite this, Julie reconciles with Tommy and later dumps Randy. A heartbroken Randy gets severely drunk, makes out with his ex-girlfriend (Tina Theberge), and nearly gets into a fight with a gang of low riders before Fred saves him. Fred chides Randy for moping over Julie, but tells him that he needs to fight if he truly wants her back. After Randy flits about the Valley for the next few days just so he can get a glimpse at Julie, Fred says that he has a plan that will both reunite Randy with Julie and get revenge against Tommy.

A subplot involves Suzi and her stepmother, Beth (Lee Purcell), vying for the attention of a boy named Skip (David Ensor). At her party, Suzi tells Beth, who is chaperoning, about Skip, who she likes and hopes will show up. When Skip does arrive, Beth finds herself attracted to him. Skip is also attracted to Beth and goes out of his way to go to see her without Suzi finding out. One day, Skip enters Suzi's house, apparently looking for Beth. He goes upstairs and finds a woman in the shower in Beth's bedroom. Skip and this woman, whose face is not shown, are then shown making love. Another woman arrives home and goes upstairs. The bedroom door opens, Beth enters, and only then it is shown that Suzi was in the shower and in bed with Skip. Skip and Suzi go to the prom together.

As the girls make prom decorations, Stacey and Loryn chat over their post-prom plans. Stacey reveals that Tommy made a reservation at the Valley Sheraton Hotel as an after-prom "surprise" for Julie.

Tommy and Julie ride to the prom in a rented stretch limousine; Randy and Fred arrive shortly after and sneak backstage. Randy becomes increasingly annoyed with just watching the Valley High kids dance, but Fred assures him that all is going according to plan. Julie and Tommy are escorted backstage, waiting to be introduced as king and queen of the prom. Randy confronts Tommy, and the two begin to brawl. When the prom king and queen are announced, the curtain pulls back to reveal Randy beating up Tommy. Randy knocks Tommy out, then escorts a thrilled Julie from the stage through the crowd. Tommy recovers and storms through the crowd towards Randy and Julie, who start a food fight to slow Tommy down and facilitate their escape from the venue in Tommy's rented limousine.

As the happy couple ride into the night towards the Valley Sheraton, Julie removes Tommy's I.D. bracelet, which had been a sign of the relationship between the two during the entire film, and throws it out the window. The scene, which echoes the final scene of the film The Graduate, pans to the overview of the Valley, while the limo turns past the Sherman Oaks Galleria glowing in the night.



The film was originally conceived as a teen exploitation film to capitalize on the valley girl fad inspired by the Frank and Moon Unit Zappa song "Valley Girl."[4] Zappa himself explored the possibility of making a "Valley Girl" film and received inquiries from several studios, though nothing materialized.[5] Zappa later unsuccessfully sued to stop production of the film, claiming it infringed on his trademark.[6]

Valley Girl was shot on a shoestring budget of $350,000, but earned fifty times that amount.

Martha Coolidge, the director, received a token salary. Most of the crew and some of the actors were friends of Martha from film school, and worked for free. There were almost no retakes.

The executives gave them only a small artistic budget, which included wardrobe. The cast and crew put all their own clothes on a table, and that became the wardrobe. The gowns and suits at the prom were promotions.

Josie Cotton and her group drove up from Texas in their 1950 Chevrolet to perform in the prom scene.

The actors went to high schools in the Valley to learn or reacquaint themselves with Valleyspeak. One of the early scenes used dialogue that was 100% dialect. The dialect was used only sparingly thereafter, for the sake of clarity.

The Hollywood bar scenes were filmed on location at The Central, where then-unknown actress/singer Katey Sagal was booked to perform later that week. Her name appears (albeit misspelled) on the schedule of upcoming acts when the protagonists first enter.

The executives regarded the project as an exploitative teenage film and required that there be four scenes containing bare breasts. At the first screening they were pleasantly surprised and said "My God, this is a real movie!"

Julie's mother, Colleen Camp, and father, Frederic Forrest, worked together in Apocalypse Now and were glad to be working together again. Their scenes from the earlier film had ended up on the cutting room floor, but have since been used in Apocalypse Now Redux.

The teacher's King and Queen speech was delivered by Martha Coolidge's former acting instructor, Joanne Baron. She and Martha wrote it the night before.

Randy and Julie's escape from the prom was a deliberate reference to The Graduate as was an earlier scene where Beth, a mother, reprised the role of Mrs. Robinson, seducing young Skip. She also delivered the tagline, "Plastics".

Cage and Foreman found it difficult to do the breakup scene at Julie's front door because it was shot late in the filming, when Cage and Foreman were dating. It took a lot of takes and some counseling by Martha Coolidge. She told Foreman to think of another guy she had broken up with.[7]


Box office

Valley Girl was released on April 29, 1983 and opened in 442 theaters. In the opening weekend, it grossed $1,856,780 at #4. The final domestic gross reached $17,343,596.[1]

Critical reception

The film garnered mostly positive reviews; review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes currently reviews an 83% 'Fresh' rating, noting "With engaging performances from its two leads, Valley Girl is a goofy yet amiable film that both subverts and celebrates the cheerful superficiality of teen comedies."[8]


The soundtrack features a host of new wave recording artists including the Plimsouls and Josie Cotton, both of whom appeared in the film. Songs by Bonnie Hayes, Modern English, and the Payolas were also featured prominently.

Many of the songs used were minor chart hits in 1982–83. Josie Cotton's "Johnny Are You Queer?" was a regional hit in Southern California in 1981, placing #5 on KROQ-FM's Top 106 songs of the year and "He Could Be the One" from her album Convertible Music had reached #74 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982. The song heard over the opening credits is "Girls Like Me" from Bonnie Hayes' 1982 album Good Clean Fun, which "bubbled under" the Billboard 200 album chart at #206. The Plimsouls' "A Million Miles Away" and the Payolas' "Eyes of a Stranger" were moderate hits in 1982, reaching #11 and #22, respectively, on Billboard's Top Tracks chart. "I Melt with You" by Modern English reached #78 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1983.

The song "I Melt with You" occurred twice in the movie, in the ending credits and in the love scene montage. The director, Martha Coolidge, heard it on the radio and decided it caught the spirit of the movie. She had to call up the station and sing it to them to find out what it was called, because they didn't announce what songs were after they were played.[9]

The end credits show songs by the Clash, Culture Club, Bananarama, and the Jam, but those songs are not heard in the film. After the film was completed, problems arose in acquiring the music rights and substitute songs had to be dubbed in. Altogether the music rights cost $250,000 on top of the film's original $350,000 budget.[10][11]

The planned release of a soundtrack album on Epic Records (catalog number FE 38673) was cancelled due to the clearance problems with some of the songs. Instead, a different six-song mini-album was manufactured by Roadshow Records, a one-off subsidiary of Atlantic Releasing. The album was never commercially released, but a few copies leaked out and became highly valued collector's items. More common is a counterfeit copy which is distinguished by the misspelling of the title as "Valley Girls" on the spine of the album cover.[12][13]

In 1994, Rhino Records released a compilation of songs from the film's soundtrack on compact disc which peaked at #155 on the Billboard 200. This was followed by a second volume titled More Music from the Valley Girl Soundtrack in 1995.

The film originally carried the song "Who Can It Be Now?" by Men at Work in the scene where Randy hides in the shower hoping Julie will come in, but in the Special Edition DVD release, the song "Systematic Way" (Josie Cotton) carries over into the next scene.

Home media

Valley Girl is available on DVD. The Special Edition DVD contains many extras, including the option of a running commentary by the director, Martha Coolidge, and interviews with many of the cast and crew, including Cage, Bowen, Holicker, Case, and Daily. In the DVD documentary, Daily admits that she had no idea what Valley Girls were supposed to sound like and decided that Loryn would be from Malibu (and therefore not a true Valley Girl) in order to cover this up; she later provided the singing voice of Two and a Half Men's Jake Harper who splits his time between his parents' homes in Malibu and the Valley.

See also


  1. 1 2, ' Valley Girl". Accessed December 25, 2013.
  2. "Variety: Digital Editions". Retrieved 2009-06-03.
  3. "Making of Valley Girl – Behind the Scenes". Retrieved 2009-06-25.
  4. Lybarger, Dan (April 16, 2003). "The Prince & Me". Nitrate Productions, Inc. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  5. Sheff, David; Sheff, Victoria. "20 Questions: Frank and Moon Unit Zappa" Playboy November 1982
  6. (UPI) "Zappa asks judge to halt movie" Reading Eagle January 14, 1983: 13
  7. Running Audio Commentary by Martha Coolidge, on the DVD
  8. [rotten-tomatoes|1022473-valley_girl|Valley Girl]
  9. Director's running commentary on the film in the DVD
  10. Occhiogrosso, Peter. "Reelin' and Rockin'" American Film April 1984: 48
  11. American Film September 1984: 6
  12. Osborne, Jerry. "Valley Girl Music Battle Was Awesome" Chicago Sun-Times December 2, 1990
  13. Barker, Lisa. "Valley Girl: A Totally Bitchin' Soundtrack That's Worth Like A Lot" Goldmine November 27, 1992: 66

External links

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