When Martha Coolidge was brought in to direct Valley Girl (1983), she knew there were some key elements she needed to bring to the film. Andrew Lane and Wayne Crawford had written a teen comedy romp in about ten days to capitalize on the valley girl fad, and the producers were also requiring that she show a specific number of female breasts in order to appeal to male viewers.
But instead of delivering a simple, paint by numbers teen sex comedy, Coolidge set to work with her friends and colleagues to create something so much more than cheap exploitation fare. She insisted the film needed the element of wanting and she added the falling in love and breakup scenes. She recalls, “Andy, Wayne and I made a movie we could be proud of. When the studio saw it, they knew it was better to have a good, real film than a mediocre exploitation film.”
After having spent years immersing herself in the club scene for a different film project, she also had a distinct idea of what the film should sound like. Thus was born a new wave classic featuring Modern English, The Plimsouls, Josie Cotton, and many more.
Without the contributions of the cast though, the film still could never have transcended its genre. Nicolas Cage and Deborah Foreman bring young love with all its ups and downs to exuberant life. It is also a hallmark of Martha Coolidge’s career that so many different representations of female sexuality and a gender awareness can be explored in this “teen” film that continues to delight and charm more than thirty years after its debut.
What you’ll find in this episode: the difference between punk and new wave, the origins of the valley girl in popular culture, and whether this is one of Nicolas Cage’s best films.
Links and Recommendations:
Check out Valley Girl on IMDB.
Ericca’s further viewing pick of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
Cole’s further viewing pick of Real Genius.
Frank Zappa’s Valley Girl.
Nicolas Cage talking about working with female directors.