IMDb > Back to School (1986)
Back to School
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Back to School (1986) More at IMDbPro »

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Up 31% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Rodney Dangerfield (story) &
Greg Fields (story) ...
View company contact information for Back to School on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
13 June 1986 (USA) See more »
Registration starts Friday, June 13, at theaters everywhere.
To help his discouraged son get through college, a funloving and obnoxious rich businessman decides to enter the school as a student himself. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
1 win & 1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
Dangerfield University Lampoon Still Contains Truth See more (75 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Rodney Dangerfield ... Thornton Melon

Sally Kellerman ... Dr. Diane Turner

Burt Young ... Lou

Keith Gordon ... Jason Melon

Robert Downey Jr. ... Derek Lutz

Paxton Whitehead ... Dr. Phillip Barbay

Terry Farrell ... Valerie Desmond

M. Emmet Walsh ... Coach Turnbull

Adrienne Barbeau ... Vanessa

William Zabka ... Chas

Ned Beatty ... Dean David Martin
Severn Darden ... Dr. Borozini

Sam Kinison ... Professor Terguson

Robert Picardo ... Giorgio
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. ... Himself

Edie McClurg ... Marge Sweetwater
Sarah Abrell ... Sorority Girl
Dana Allison ... Young Woman
Boris Aplon ... Tony Meloni
Nora Boland ... Agnes

Kimberlin Brown ... Girl in Dorm Hallway
Lisa Denton ... Lisa
Bob Drew ... Contractor
Holly Hayes ... Girl in the Crowd

Jason Hervey ... Young Thornton

Leslie Scarborough ... Coed #1 (as Leslie Huntly)
James Ingersoll ... Judge

Michael McGrady ... Player #1
Santos Morales ... Bartender
Beth Peters ... Mrs. Stuyvesant
Phil Rubenstein ... Executive #1

Timothy Stack ... Trendy Man
Steve Sweeney ... Security Guard
Stacey Toten ... Hot Tub Girl

John William Young ... Executive #2 (as John Young)
Brad Zutaut ... Petey
Josh Saylor ... Student in Diane's Class
William Grauer ... Drunken Student
Kristen Aldrich ... Girl in Diane's Class

Becky LeBeau ... Bubbles the Hot Tub Girl (as Beck LeBeau)
Tricia Hill ... Lisa's Friend
Jill D. Merin ... Girl at Dorm Party
John William James ... Man in Stands (as John James)
Eric Alver ... Student at Fraternity Party
Theresa Lyons ... Cashier
Dallas Winkler ... Rodettes
Lisa Montgomery ... Rodettes (as Lisa Le Cover)
Kimberlee Carlson ... Rodettes
Curtis Stone ... Twist & Shout Band Member
Michael Reid ... Twist & Shout Band Member
Cactus Moser ... Twist & Shout Band Member
Brian O'Dougherty ... Twist & Shout Band Member
Davey Faragher ... Twist & Shout Band Member
Cliffie Stone ... Twist & Shout Band Member

Danny Elfman ... Oingo Boingo Band Member
Leon Schneiderman ... Oingo Boingo Band Member
Steve Bartek ... Oingo Boingo Band Member (as Steven Bartek)
Dale Turner ... Oingo Boingo Band Member
Johnny 'Vatos' Hernandez ... Oingo Boingo Band Member (as John Hernandez)
John Avila ... Oingo Boingo Band Member
Sam Phipps ... Oingo Boingo Band Member
Mike Bacich ... Oingo Boingo Band Member
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Oingo Boingo ... Themselves
David Blatt ... Graduating student (uncredited)

Jacqi Bowe ... Dancer (uncredited)

Christine Bridges ... Grad student (uncredited)

J. Cynthia Brooks ... Girl in jacuzzi (uncredited)

Shannon Dunn ... Girl (uncredited)
Lyle Gold ... Dancer at Party (uncredited)

Gardner Grout ... Economics Student (uncredited)

Shawn McBurney ... Graduate Student (uncredited)
Randi Randolph ... Hot Tub Girl #2 (uncredited)

Tracy M. Walker ... Student (uncredited)
Scott Wilder ... Football Player #2 (uncredited)

Directed by
Alan Metter 
Writing credits
Rodney Dangerfield (story) &
Greg Fields (story) &
Dennis Snee (story)

Steven Kampmann (screenplay) &
William Porter (screenplay) (as Will Porter) and
Pj Torokvei (screenplay) &
Harold Ramis (screenplay)

Rich Eustis  uncredited

Produced by
Estelle Endler .... executive producer
Michael Endler .... executive producer
Harold Ramis .... executive producer
Chuck Russell .... producer
Original Music by
Danny Elfman 
Cinematography by
Thomas E. Ackerman (director of photography)
Film Editing by
David Rawlins 
Casting by
Caro Jones 
Melissa Skoff 
Production Design by
David L. Snyder 
Set Decoration by
Linda DeScenna  (as Linda De Scenna)
Costume Design by
Durinda Wood 
Makeup Department
Hallie D'Amore .... head makeup artist
Donna Barrett Gilbert .... key hair stylist
Janna Phillips .... assistant makeup artist (as Janna Barbara Phillips)
Production Management
Chuck Russell .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Dustin Bernard .... second second assistant director
Robert P. Cohen .... first assistant director
Steve Cohen .... second assistant director
Michael Looney .... second assistant director: second unit
David Rawlins .... second unit director
Jerry Sobul .... first assistant director: second unit (as Jerald B. Sobul)
Art Department
David Aaron .... assistant props
Stan Ascough .... property master: second unit (as Stanley Ascough)
Carlos Burbano .... greensman
Greg John Callas .... propmaker foreman (as Greg Callas)
Steve Callas .... propmaker foreman
Bruce J. Gfeller .... construction coordinator
Dick Girod .... paint foreman
Steven Curtis Husch .... set dresser (as Steve Husch)
Scott L. London .... assistant property master
Tom McCown .... set dresser
Ric McElvin .... leadman
Margie Stone McShirley .... assistant art director (as Marjorie Stone McShirley)
David Q. Quick .... property master (as David Quick)
David Russell .... production illustrator
Edmund Silkaitis .... set designer
Mike Wells .... propmaker
Sound Department
Vanessa Theme Ament .... foley walker (as Vanessa Ament)
Gary C. Bourgeois .... sound re-recording mixer: dialogue (as Gary Bourgeois)
Neil Brody .... sound re-recording mixer
Neil Burrow .... sound editor
Chris Carpenter .... sound re-recording mixer
Melinda Cooke .... apprentice sound editor
Gordon Davidson .... sound editor
Mark Gordon .... sound editor (as Mark S. Gordon)
Hilda Hodges .... foley walker
Fred Judkins .... supervising sound editor
James J. Klinger .... sound editor
James Matheny .... sound editor (as Jim Matheny)
Tom C. McCarthy .... supervising sound editor (as Tom McCarthy)
Bill Nelson .... sound mixer (as William Nelson)
Mychal Smith .... cable person
Jules Strasser .... boom operator
Don S. Walden .... sound editor
Burton Weinstein .... adr editor
Special Effects by
Michael Lantieri .... special effects supervisor
Tim Moran .... assistant special effects (as Timothy J. Moran)
Visual Effects by
Rocco Gioffre .... matte artist
Pete Antico .... stunts
Gregory J. Barnett .... stunts (as Gregory Barnett)
Todd Bryant .... stunts
Dana Burgess .... stunt diver: Tandem
Hal Burton .... stunts (as Harold Burton)
John Casino .... stunts
Justin De Rosa .... stunts (as Justin De Rosa)
David Draves .... stunt diver
Tom Elliott .... stunts
Gary Epper .... stunts
Richard Epper .... stunts
Allan Graf .... stunts
Carlos A. Herzer .... stunts
Billy Hank Hooker .... stunts
Hugh Hooker .... stunts
Gary Hymes .... stunts
Mark Lindout .... stunt diver
Jim Mantrell .... stunt diver: A.E. #1
Anderson Martin .... stunts
Abbe Masel .... stunt diver: Tandem
Don Charles McGovern .... stunts
John Meier .... stunts (as John C. Meier)
William Oliver .... stunts
Noon Orsatti .... stunts
Mike Ostavich .... stunt diver
Manny Perry .... stunts
Chuck Picerni Jr. .... stunts (as Charles Picerni Jr.)
Steve Picerni .... stunts (as Steven Picerni)
Carol Rees .... stunts
Cyndi Lee Rice .... stunts
Michael Runyard .... stunts
Spike Silver .... stunts
Dan Walter .... stunt diver: A.E. #2
Dean Wein .... stunts
Scott Wilder .... stunts
Dick Ziker .... stunt coordinator
Bruce Comtois .... stunts (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Jamie Anderson .... camera operator: second unit (as James Anderson)
Laurin Benson .... grip
Michael W. Blymyer .... lighting technician (as Michael W. Blymer)
Dan Delgado .... best boy electric
Frank Detone Jr. .... rigging grip
Jeff Goldenberg .... second assistant camera
Allan Gornick Jr. .... underwater camera operator: second unit (as Alan Gornick Jr.)
Allan Gornick Jr. .... underwater cinematographer
Danny Jimenez .... dolly grip: second unit (as Daniel Jimenez)
Lee Jimenez .... grip
Manny Jimenez .... best boy grip (as Manuel Jimenez II)
Douglas Knapp .... camera operator (as Douglas H. Knapp)
Michael Laws .... lighting technician (as Michael J. Laws)
Jeffrey S. Leader .... first assistant camera: second unit
To Lee .... second assistant camera
Michael Liakos .... grip: second unit
Frederick Moore .... director of photography: second unit
David L. Parrish .... first assistant camera (as David Parrish)
Mark Pearson .... grip
Ted Rhodes .... key grip
Michael G. Riba .... camera technician: second unit (as Michael Riba)
Joyce Rudolph .... still photographer
Ward Russell .... gaffer
Michael Salts .... grip
Jeff Stanman .... lighting technician
Dennis Wehr .... lighting technician
Kurt Young .... dolly grip
Casting Department
Karen Standard .... casting assistant
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Sandy Ampon .... costumer: women
Ellis Cohen .... costume supervisor
Janet Stout .... costumer: women
Editorial Department
Richard Alderete .... apprentice editor
Bob Hagans .... color timer
Darren T. Holmes .... assistant editor (as Darren Holmes)
David Block .... colorist (uncredited)
Music Department
Bob Badami .... music editor
Steve Bartek .... orchestrator
Dick Bernstein .... music editor
Tom Boyd .... musician: oboe soloist
Neil Brody .... music editor
Lennie Niehaus .... conductor
Linda Goldner Perry .... music supervisor
James Thatcher .... musician: french horn
Richard Wolf .... composer: theme music
Transportation Department
Michael McDuffee .... transportation coordinator
Richard Padgett .... transportation co-captain (as Dick Padgett)
Tim Roslan .... transportation co-captain (as Timothy Roslan)
Other crew
Julia Alexander .... technical advisor: diving
Alicia Anthony .... post-production auditor
Bonnie Belknap .... food stylist
Jean Claude Bonnardot .... production assistant
Doug Burdinski .... production controller (as Douglas Burdinski)
Jean E. Chapman .... first aid (as Jean Chapman)
Dan Curry .... title designer: main title sequence
Rachel Friedman .... assistant to producer
Mark C. Grech .... craft service
Phyllis Levin .... first aid (as Phyllis A. Levin)
Kathy Lymberopoulos .... production associate
Kenneth Mancebo .... pre-production accountant
Cass Martin .... location manager
Mary McLaglen .... production coordinator
Brian McMillan .... head animal trainer
Katherine Ann Moore .... unit publicist
Sharon Morov .... production secretary
Mary Ann Newfield .... script supervisor: second unit
Joseph M. O'Har .... location manager
Pam O'Har .... location manager
Lori O'Konek .... production secretary: Madison
Judy Rosenthal .... script supervisor
Melanie Roy .... production assistant
Margaret Scarpello .... production accountant
Esther Vivante .... script supervisor
William Watts .... production assistant
Jack E. Herman .... extras set coordinator (uncredited)
Ken Rudolph .... title designer: main title sequence (uncredited)
Estelle Endler .... dedicatee (as Estelle)

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
96 min
Black and White (prologue) | Color
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Robert Downey Jr. was also working on "Saturday Night Live" (1975) while he was working on this film. He would fly from New York to Los Angeles twice a week for filming.See more »
Revealing mistakes: When Thornton makes his first dive of the movie, he exits the pool on the ladder and there is clearly a cut in the film. He exits the pool dry, no water dripping anywhere.See more »
Trendy Man:Mr. Melon, your wife was just showing us her Klimt.
Thornton Melon:You too, huh? She's shown it to everybody.
Trendy Man:Well, she's very proud of it.
Thornton Melon:I'm proud of mine too. I don't go waving it around at parties, though.
Trendy Man:It's an exceptional painting.
Thornton Melon:Oh, the painting.
See more »
I'll Never Forget Your FaceSee more »


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17 out of 19 people found the following review useful.
Dangerfield University Lampoon Still Contains Truth, 14 October 2005
Author: John Panagopoulos ( from Malden, MA

"Back to School" is a cherished member of my VHS collection not only because of the late but inimitably immortal Rodney Dangerfield and his outrageous persona, but also because of its laceration of a favorite satiric target - college. "Back to School" came out in 1986 -a year after I graduated from Tufts University- and it nearly perfectly encapsulates (if slightly exaggerates) and skewers college life during the heedlessly hedonistic and materialistic '80s.

At first Thorton Melon (Rodney's character in the movie) seemingly has two altruistic motives for applying to college: 1) personal improvement, and 2) desire to help his only son Jason (Kevin Gordon) succeed, especially when Thorton discovers that Jason is not exactly the epitome of the BMOC. However, once he essentially bribes his way into college by convincing the venally avaricious Dean Martin (he, he) to let him endow the Thorton Melon school of Business Administration, high school dropout Thorton apparently has it made. One might argue that this scenario is implausible, but given universities' rapacity for more cash, I could believe they would bend the rules to let wealthy Thorton in.

Thorton then proceeds to embody every college student's wet dream - to be the perpetually fun-loving slacker who has the dough to show himself and others an endless good time and buy himself out of any trouble! Again, philistine critics may argue that no college would tolerate Thorton's party-boy person; wouldn't the cops arrest him for the voyeuristic dormitory scene or the out-of-control party scene, instead of reprimanding him or bringing Lite beer (remember Rodney was one of the shills for Lite)? However, "Back to School"'s college satire necessarily must employ a little hyperbole to get its point across.

For example, in the classroom scenes with the history professor (the late Sam Kinison) and the business instructor (Paxton Whitehead), the movie does also go a little over the top but also tweaks college for its well-meaning but unrealistically theoretical approach (i.e. head up its a$$ approach) to working and life. Yeah, especially Thornton's take on the corruption and shady dealing it would really take to start a business really do have a germ of truth. Also, the way Thorton "prepares" for his classes -his secretary takes notes for him in class and his research team does his reports and homework- is off the wall but also possesses scientific veracity. I'm sure at Tufts and other colleges, some students never went to class and got others to take notes and do reports. However, (and this is one of my favorite scenes from the movie) only Thornton would heft a report created by his research team and crack, "I dunno; it feels like a "C"; add some more multicolored graphs"." And of course only Thornton would hire Kurt Vonnegut to appraise his own work.

Nevertheless, "Back to School" lets Rodney collide with harsh, poignant reality without sacrificing laughs. Thornton is failing his classes; even the professor most sympathetic to him (Sally Kellerman) suspects him of plagiarism. His son Jason angrily refuses to let Thornton's think tank do his astronomy work. Thornton will be expelled unless he passes a multi-part oral exam (!) by all of his course professors. After a pep talk from Thornton's chauffeur (Burt Young) about Thornton's "School of Hard Knocks" life, Jason realizes that just as his dad came to school to show him how to loosen up and enjoy life, he must show his dad how to handle college responsibilities. And isn't that what college is all about - balancing responsibility and fun to have a meaningfully productive experience?

Therefore, "Back to School" is more than just an "Animal House" retread. It uses Rodney's older, wry perspective (and those priceless one-liners) to point out both the absurdity and importance of college life. Heck, I would even recommend high school seniors applying to colleges to give "Back to School" a look if only to show them (with a grain of salt, of course) that while college is a worthwhile experience, it's also a unique, unfamiliar world all its own.

P.S.: I would advise Cedric the Entertainer to abandon his 2006 remake of "Back to School" as an ill-advised travesty.

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