Friday, November 21, 2008

"Making the Grade"

The other night I watched the 1984 movie "Making the Grade." I rented this movie per a recommendation from the the Ralph Lauren Rugby blog. Wow, I have to say that this movie was quite abysmal. It features subpar acting and an awful story. It also features Judd Nelson as the only actor that I remotely recognized. The only redeeming quality of this movie, and it is quite the redeemer, is that the movie plays like a film version of the Official Preppy Handbook. Frankly, it was pretty amazing. While parts of it definitely fall into the category of "over the top" prep, the rest of it is simply khakis, shetland sweater, boat shoes, penny loafers, and tweed jackets. I won't really waste time by going into details about the movie (because it doesn't deserve it) other than stating that the movie takes place at a Northeastern prep school during the 80s, instead I will just let the pictures speak for themselves.

The scene when Judd Nelson's character arrives at Hoover Academy.

That's a lot of polo shirts.

Note the ribbon belt.

Guys in this movie wore sweaters around their shoulders so often that it almost appeared normal. The guy with green sweater is the typical preppy antagonist, unoriginally named "Biff."

Although pants were not actually worn this short during the movie, it was interesting that they included this shot when Judd Nelson's character (not originally a prep) was getting a lesson on what to wear to fit in.

Note the awesome lacrosse poster on the wall.

Nice selection of footwear. Also the directors seem to be under the impression that prep students love to smoke pipes.

Judd Nelson is wearing Chuck Taylors in this scene.

The girls from a nearby girls prep school.

A nice selection of ties.

Too much madras? Impossible.

I'm not sure which I like more: the girls in tartan or the guy in the patch madras pants.

The girls while watching the lacrosse game.

After watching the lacrosse scene, I'm pretty sure that the filmmakers had never actually seen a lacrosse game.

Awesome Bean Boots.

Nice looks shetland sweater.

The oxford over the polo shirt was pretty prevalent in the movie.

Note the Bean Norwegian sweater.

Judd Nelson and his love interest in a sweet down vest.

One thing I noted was how prevalent kelly green was in this movie, either in sweater or corduroy pants form. It made me really want to add some to my own wardrobe.


Kim said...

The oxford over the polo was really popular in the early '80s. I don't remember ever seeing that movie, but those girls watching the lacrosse game under the crochet blanket look like my Kappa pledge class officers. Seriously.

The clothes look a little over the top, but not much--that was what we really looked like (greeks anyway).

TWJ said...

Mom on the run is right. Growing up in Virginia's Tidewater Area, if you were looking around campus this would be a typical seen. My children still tease me about this. But as they are getting older they are starting to slowly see that Dad's wardrobe hasn't changed since then either. In times like these that is a plus. Quality and traditional style stay the same so investments in clothing last longer. Oh thank goodness for stupid 80’s movies, they are a look back into a time I really loved. (Commdsn)

Tammy B said...

Believe it or not, I really like this movie. I know, the movie is really lame. There are somethings in the movie that make me think it takes place in Memphis.

Valerie said...

luv the old-school lax helmets. Chris has one of those in the garage. explains alot of the brain damage he incurred during his formative years.

Anonymous said...

It does take place in Memphis, Tammy B. My first thought when I saw the pictures was that the architecture looked a lot like Rhodes. I looked it up on and sure enough it was filmed in Memphis and that is Rhodes in the pictures. I wish people really dressed like that here. I get the strangest looks when I wear my Bean Boots. Now I definitely will be renting the movie.

Eco-Prep said...

Great blog! I have this movie on DVD and watch it from time to time when I need a preppy giggle. I also love the "How to be preppy" instructions Judd Nelson gets as Palmer Woodrow. Thanks for the screen caps!

Anonymous said...


Where did you get these screenshots from?

Clemson '08

trip said...


I made them myself. I rented the DVD and watched it on my computer, and then did a Print Screen when I saw something I like, pasted it into a graphics program and saved it out as a JPG.

Evan Hillyer said...

I go to Rhodes College where the movie was filmed, and a number of students dress like this. We do however, have our fair share of meatheads that wear the infamous "black dress shirt" so to speak. I am also on the Rhodes Club Lacrosse team and, although I haven't seen the movie, i'm fairly sure that the game in the movie is probably better than our actual team. Alcohol is the reason for a terrible season.

Anonymous said...

It seems as though this thread gets a comment about every 4 months, and considering the last one was June, I guess it's time for mine.

It was Memphis, hence the Peabody Hotel/Peabody Ducks scene. As for the story being abysmal, the premise was the same as Trading Places, a critical hit. Take someone from 'the outside' and give them the chance to be on 'the inside'. At first they think they're getting away with something, but slowly they begin to appreciate the lifestyle they're living and they become 'corrupted' by it. In MTG Eddie begins to change his personality (for instance dismissing those who were at his station until recently- namely the stable hand) and in Trading Places it was Billy Ray Valentine who turned on his friends from the street.

Personally, having watched the movie many times, originally as a teenager in 1984, and about twice a year since i bought the DVD in 2006, I think the gym teacher has the best lines of the film. The opening 5 minutes are classic with my friends and I ("canard?") but it's the gym teacher that really keeps up the funny throughout. This could have been a John Hughes film, had it been filmed in Chicago, and with better music.

Love the site. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I know this is a throwback comment. I have recently been reading lots of men's prep/trad/ivy blogs and stumbled across yours. I attended Rhodes just a few years after this was filmed. I was there in the early 90s grunge embracing days so for the most part prep style was out except for fraternity meetings and formals. There were a few people around campus still who had cameos in the film while I was there so it was always fun to watch. I get a serious kick out of how popular this movie is for those who have embraced the style from the film.

Anonymous said...

"I'm rich, I don't have to be nice." is one of the great lines of all time! I love this movie. It's like Spam - I love it, even though it is terrible.

Unknown said...

I haven't seen this movie in at least 25 years and I still have parts memorized... my favorite "and for You Little John, a mutton chop! And here is something with which to wash it down, Come with me and my Merry Men and you can laugh like this. Ha Ha Ha!" -- LOVE THIS MOVIE!!!

Anonymous said...

They used my 1956 Austin Healy in the movie. Between filming takes, Judd Nelson and I threw a tennis ball back and forth to kill time