Ray Walston Remembered: Spicoli vs. Mr. Hand

Forget Ferris Bueller. Forget Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club. The greatest student-teacher showdown in modern theater pits Sean Penn’s spacy Spicoli, against Ray Walston’s crusty Mr. Hand in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

It’s a three-round bout, with Spicoli’s high school diploma at stake. Their classic exchanges cemented Cameron Crowe’s reputation as Hollywood’s hippest screenwriter.

Mr. Hand, the ultimate disciplinarian, meets Spicoli, the ultimate “surfer dude” stoner, on the first day of school, and guess who is late.

Round 1: ‘Hey, I Know That Dude …’

Knock, knock, knock.

Mr. Hand: Yes?

Spicoli appears. One student remarks, “This guy has been stoned since the third grade!”

Spicoli: I’m registered in this class. Mr. Hand: (sarcastically) What class? Spicoli: This is U.S. history. I see a globe right there. Mr. Hand: Oh, really? Spicoli: May I come in? Mr. Hand: Puh-lease! I get so lonely when the third attendance bell rings and all my kids are not here. Spicoli: Sorry I’m late. It’s just like … this new schedule is totally confusing … (losing his train of thought, he points to another student) Hey, I know that dude! …

Spicoli hands Mr. Hand his attendance card.

Mr. Hand: Mr. Spic-oli? Spicoli: That’s the name they gave me. …

Mr. Hand tears Spicoli’s attendance card to shreds.

Spicoli: Hey bud, what’s your problem?

Mr. Hand: No problem at all. I think you know where the front office is.

Spicoli: You d--k!

Round 2: Mr. Pizza Guy Cometh

Round 2 finds Spicoli antagonizing Mr. Hand by eating in class. Like Round 1, Round 2 begins with Mr. Hand being interrupted by a knock at the door. The new arrival disrupts a lecture on U.S.-Cuba relations.

Knock, knock, knock. Mr. Hand: Who is it? Pizza Delivery Man: Mr. Pizza Guy. Mr. Hand: Again? Pizza Delivery Man: (Slowly) Mr. Pizza Guy. (He walks into the classroom and addresses the students directly as Mr. Hand stares, mouth agape.) Who ordered the double cheese and sausage? Spicoli: Uh, here dude! Mr. Hand: Am I hallucinating here? Just what in the hell do you think you are going? Spicoli: Learning about Cuba and having some food. Mr. Hand: You are on dangerous ground here. You are causing a major disturbance on my time! Spicoli: You know, I have been thinking about this, Mr. Hand. If I’m here and you are here, doesn’t that make it our time?

Mr. Hand is momentarily blindsided by Spicoli’s simple point. But before Spicoli can enjoy his snack, Mr. Hand decides to share his pizza with the class.

Round 3: Aloha, Mr. Hand The final confrontation shifts the action from Mr. Hand’s classroom to Spicoli’s trailer park bedroom, just as he takes that final bong hit in preparation for senior prom. Now, it is Mr. Hand’s turn for a surprise attack. Once again, it begins with a knock at the door.

Knock, Knock.

Spicoli: En-tray. (Shocked) Mr. Hand! Mr. Hand: Uh, were you going somewhere tonight, Jeff? Spicoli: Yeah, graduation dance. It’s the last school fest of the year. Mr. Hand: I’m afraid we’ve got some business to discuss here. Spicoli: Did I do something wrong, Mr. Hand? Mr. Hand: (Stepping into the bedroom, amid the drug paraphernalia and concert posters) According to my calculations, Mr. Spicoli, you wasted a total of eight hours of my time this year, and rest assured that is a kind estimate. Now, I have the unique pleasure of squaring our account. Tonight, you and I are going to talk in great detail about the Davis Agreement, all the associated treaties, and the American Revolution in particular. If you could just turn to page 47 in Land of Truth and Beauty.

Spicoli: Oh, I left that book in my locker, Mr. Hand. Mr. Hand: In that case, I’m glad I remembered to bring an extra copy just for you.

Hours pass. Spicoli, itching to catch at least the tail end of the dance, tries to demonstrate some grasp on history.

Spicoli: … What Jefferson was saying was “Hey, we left this England place because it was bogus. So If we don’t get some cool rules ourselves — pronto — then we’ll just be bogus, too.” OK? Mr. Hand: Very close, Jeff.

Satisfied that he proved his point, Mr. Hand passes Spicoli, and sends him off to the dance. And as they say goodbye, these two warriors — one in conservative slacks, the other in a rumpled Hawaiian shirt — raise their swords in respect.

Spicoli: Aloha, Mr. Hand. Mr. Hand: Aloha, Spicoli.