5 Things I Learned From the Director’s Commentary Track of Valley Girl (1983)

by Tessa

I’ve been taking a wee break from reading YA, instead immersing myself in the marital concerns of a man in the late 1700s, a book about one woman’s journey within her own black feminism, and new theories of emotion as they apply to brain research. Also finishing reading this poem.

But I did watch a tale of young love on the first day of the year: Valley Girl, Nicolas Cage’s first role under the name Nicolas Cage. Cage is very young and looks like he’s stopmotion animated. He plays Randy, a devotee of punk-edged pop-rock from Hollywood, who falls for Julie, a pastel-ensconced Valley Girl.  They run up against the social prejudice of the suburban set. The whole thing felt like an Apatow precursor – it had almost-too-long scenes with Julie’s hippie parents and its comedy comes from that uncomfortable-realist perspective.  It seems improvised, but it isn’t (mostly).  It has more substance than one might expect, and a really great soundtrack – the big song “I Melt With You” got famous because of it, and costumes (partially designed by the teenage punk son of a costume designer).


I ended up watching Martha Coolidge (the director)’s commentary, and this is what I learned:

Things I Learned From the Director’s Commentary of Valley Girl
1. Nic Cage was asked to remove some chest hair so that he would look younger (though he was the youngest of the cast).  He came back the next day with a weird, distinctive chest hair triangle. Sort of looks like a swooping gull.
2. Nic Cage was in the casting reject pile and his photo was pulled out as an example of what the director wanted to see – “No more pretty boys”.


Nic Cage at the 38th Cannes Film Festival in 1985 (AP Images editorial license)

Nic Cage at the 38th Cannes Film Festival in 1985 (AP Images editorial license)

3. The club in Hollywood where they go the first night they meet was called the Central in real life. Now it is occupied by the Viper Room.
4. Coolidge asked X to be the house band before the Plimsouls, but X did not want to alienate their Valley-based fans, so they declined.

5. There’s a montage where Cage tries to win Julie back by infiltrating all aspects of her life, including getting jobs at all the places she frequents. He pops up as a disguised waiter in a chef hat at a drive-up joint, and when informed that he’s forgotten part of the order, exclaims “Well Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers, I guess I DID!” and his gum drops out of his mouth into the car.  The gum was an accident that they kept in the movie. (It was also Cage’s idea to wear a chef’s hat).

BONUS: Cage also improvised this line.

OTHER THING: Elizabeth Daily went on to voice Tommy Pickles of Rugrats among other things.

Here’s another blog post with more (unverified?) facts! FAXCXTZ.

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