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30 years later, we find out why Thornton Melon loved Miller beer in ‘Back to School’



Is Back to School one of the underrated comedies of the ‘80s? Released June 13, 1986, Back to School did score $90 million at the box office, making it one of the top 10 movies of the year. And yet, it’s not name-checked nearly as often as other '86 classics such as Top Gun, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Aliens or even Crocodile Dundee.

Maybe it lacked the panache of its theatrical competitors. Or maybe Back to School is a whole lotta movie for one comedian, Rodney Dangerfield, to carry on his shoulders. (God knows he didn’t get much help from Robert Downey Jr., who was stretching himself thin by appearing on Saturday Night Live while filming the movie.)

What’s not to love about Back to School? It features a performance by Oingo Boingo, a score by Danny Elfman and a villain played by William Zabka. It has all the pedigrees necessary to be an ‘80s classic.

Was it the beer?

If you hadn’t noticed, every beer featured in Back to School is Miller Beer. Ever wonder why? It’s because Dangerfield had a contract with the Miller Brewing Co. as part of his appearances in Miller Lite TV commercials. Every beer in the movie HAD to be a Miller beer. The more you know…

Here are four other things you probably didn’t know about Back to School on its 30th anniversary.

1. Does the room in which Thornton Melon takes his three-hour oral exam look familiar? It’s the same room where Alex Owens performs her big dance audition finale in 1983’s Flashdance.

2. Watch carefully when Dangerfield is under attack by Sam Kinison’s crazed professor character. He’s laughing. Turns out there wasn’t a single take where he didn’t bust up so it was decided just to use a long distance shot where the laughing wasn’t as noticeable.

3. Speaking of Kinison’s character (Professor Turgeson), the role was at one point intended for comedian Bob Saget, a good friend of Dangerfield’s. But eventually it was decided Saget was too young for the part.

4. Terry Farrell, who played the lovely Valerie Desmond in the movie, would enchant Star Trek fans decades later when she played Lt. Commander Jadzia Dax on TV’s Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.


[Last modified: Monday, June 13, 2016 9:45am]


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