There’s so much happening at once to a high schooler that most of the time life seems like a whirlwind. The future is racing after you as fast as you’re hauling down the high school hallway to beat the second bell to algebra. And in the middle of trying to deal with grades, college applications and extracurricular activities, you’re still dealing with puberty. Your libido is finally kicking in. It’s so much to handle at once. “Jeremy” is a film that delves into these times in a teenager’s life with documentary techniques and tone that keeps it grounded and relatable.
Jeremy Jones (Disney’s Beauty and the Beast‘s Robby Benson) is a rather busy high schooler. He’s a dog walker. He knows how to pick winners at the race horse track. He is an honor student. He’s refining his cello skills. He seems to have things going well. He doesn’t think he’s missing anything as he aims for college. And then one day he enters a classroom and meets Susan Rollins (Law & Order‘s Glynnis O’Connor) while she’s practicing her ballet moves. While Jeremy is a bit awkward, he does carry on a short talk with her. But he’s too nervous to let her know that he likes her. After watching her from a far, Jeremy gets forced into admitting he’d like to get to know her. Can his shy nature and busy life get him closer with Susan?
The film is shot in 16mm with handheld cameras so there’s a intimacy to the framing of Jeremy and Susan’s blossoming relationship. Director Arthur Barron came from a documentary background and the film has a naturalistic charm. There’s a rawness that doesn’t make you think any of this is scripted so much as captured. Seeing how Robby and Glynnis ended up dating, this truly is them getting to know each other on the screen. They’d go on to star in <I>Ode to Billy Joe</i>.
Even though I grew up in the ’70s and went to high school at the start of the ’80s, I have no memory of this film. During the ’70s, I mostly remember a drugged up Robby Benson being shotgun blasted to death by his dad (Ben Gazzara) in the TV movie, Death of Richie. This was not a tender tale of youth and pretty much horrified me to anything featuring Ben Gazzara or Robby Benson. I really could have used a film like Jeremy back in those days. It’s not an outrageous tale of love that features an over the top big concept or equally overwhelming drama. This film keeps early attempts at romance in perspective from both the approach of approaching someone you’re curious about to dealing with the heartbreak of things not exactly going as desired. Instead of an informative film like Jeremy, I ended up stuck with Endless Love which deals with a psychotic teenager boy setting his girlfriend’s house on fire and eventually leading to the death of her father. “Jeremy” is a far superior film. Not to completely spoil the film, but Jeremy doesn’t commit acts of arson or pile up a body count. I’m really pissed off that my local TV station didn’t run “Jeremy” in the afternoon or on the weekends. Why did I have to see drugged up Robby Benson getting ventilated by Ben Gazarra instead of him as awkward Jeremy figuring out how to ask a girl out on a date? If I had seen this teen flick in junior high, things might have been different in my mindset and desires. “Jeremy” just puts a sense of perspective on those early dating experiences instead of making things seem so overwhelming like in a normal Hollywood production with cute meets and dramatic results. “Jeremy” is one of the sweet masterpieces of the teen genre.
Video is 1.66:1 anamorphic. The movie was shot on 16mm and blown up to 35mm for the theatrical release. The transfer on the Blu-ray is from the color reversal internegative. There’s that gritty and grainy feel to the image which adds to the sense that we’re watching a real couple meeting and dating. The audio is DTS-HD MA Mono. The levels are fine whether it is the intimate conversations between the couple or the cello solos. The movie is subtitled.
Intro (0:47) has Glynnis O’Connor give a quick set up of the film.
Susan and Jeremy (21:05) Robby Benson and Glynnis O’Connor dip into their memories of making the film and each other. Turns out they dated while making the film and a bit of time later. Benson had already been on Broadway and made a film before he was cast in Jeremy. Glynnis tagged along on a pal’s audition and got the part. They talk about the impact the film had on their career.
A Phantom of Delight (8:25) is a video essay from Chris O’Neill. He speaks of how the film gives a sensitive view of a first relationship. He breaks down scenes from the film so it’s best to watch this after screening the movie.
Trailers From Hell Commentary by Larry Karaszewski (3:21) has the co-writer of Ed Wood and My Name Is Dolemite show off his New York Herald Tribune mask since he shot this episode when the pandemic hit. He points out how the film is more realistic than the Beach Party films. The writer has great taste in films and it’s good he re-introduced “Jeremy” on the TFH website. Larry is also a great person to follow on Twitter @Karaszewski.
Image Gallery (5:19) includes photos from the set, publicity stills and posters.
Original Theatrical Trailer (2:25) starts off with how “Jeremy” was a major hit at Cannes. This was back when people really cared at hits coming out of foreign film festivals.
Audio Commentary with Kat Ellinger and Mike McPadden goes into more details about the production, cast and crew. The commentary is slightly bittersweet since McPadden recently passed away. He was the author of Heavy Metal Movies and Teen Movie Hell. He shares his passion for the film.
Fun City Editions presents “Jeremy.” Directed by Arthur Barron. Screenplay by: Arthur Barron. Starring: Robby Benson, Glynnis O’Connor, Len Bari, Leonardo Cimino, Ned Wilson, Chris Bohn, Pat Wheel & Ted Sorel. Rated: PG. Running Time: 90 minutes. Release Date: March 30, 2021.