I can probably count on two hands the number of movies I’ve paid to see twice in a movie theater. Virtually all are classics that I’ve caught as revivals: The Godfather II, A Clockwork Orange, and The Bridge on the River Kwai immediately pop to mind. But there is also a decided oddball in the mix, a movie that no one in their right mind would consider worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as the works of Kubrick and Lean: the 1987 teen comedy Can’t Buy Me Love, a flick that is mostly memorable for its odious plot.
For those too young to remember the twilight of Ronald Reagan’s second term, Can’t Buy Me Love was the tale of a high-school outcast who paid a mega-popular cheerleader to date him for a week, as a way of climbing the local social ladder. The fundamental lesson of the movie is that a pretty girl will chastely whore out her affections in exchange for several hundred bucks, provided she’s desperate enough or cash. An ugly moral, but one my grade-school self wasn’t nearly smart enough to understand. I was just thrilled to be watching a flick that was rated PG-13—it made me feel mature beyond my years. And so my pal and I ended up catching the movie twice, after getting dropped off at the multiplex by his extremely permissive dad. For two kids who were just beginning to figure out that girls were not, in fact, the enemy, Can’t Buy Me Love was the closest we could get to an illicit thrill.
I remember little about the movie today, save for the line uttered above by Patty, the stereotypical class tramp. Finding herself alone in a car with the protagonist, now considered quite the catch after his fake dalliance with Miss Cheerleader, she makes her move by uttering a line demands recognition with a Poncho, Microkhan’s award for memorably uttered lines by supporting characters. For those of you who can’t safely YouTube right now, the decidedly PG-13 sentence is as follows:
I happen to know in the whole school, there’s only one other titty quite this pretty.
It wasn’t the naughtiness of the line that struck my grade-school self; it was the fantastic delivery by actress Darcy DeMoss, who raises her voice to a geisha-like lilt as she hits the word “quite.” Then there’s the way she touches her fingertip to the corner of her mouth, suggesting depths of lewdness that no PG-13 movie could possibly explore.
Pure theatrical genius—a masterclass in playing the floozy in her prime. I highly recommend that all actress asked to play women of loose morals study DeMoss’s performance in the same way that aspiring military commanders study Võ Nguyên Giáp‘s tactics at Dien Bien Phu.