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.

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