The Pom Pom Girls

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It’s the start of a new school year at Rosedale High School in sunny California and football season is in full swing. The Pom Pom Girls (1976) follows Johnnie (Michael Mullins) and his best friend Jesse (Robert Carradine) as they navigate their love lives and football careers. Cheerleaders Laurie (Jennifer Ashley) and Sally (Lisa Reeves) are their girlfriends and co-conspirators in all manner of pranks, hijinks, and love making.

There’s no real plot to The Pom Pom Girls. Writer/director Joseph Ruben has made an episodic film that, like its teenaged characters, lives moment to moment.The film balances a slice-of-life sense of reality with some more fanciful elements lifted from other films but grounds them all in a laid back milieu that creates a cohesion between disparate aesthetics. Ruben would go on to helm some major blockbusters in the eighties and nineties but none of those films would feature the frankness of his work for Crown International Pictures.

There’s an authenticity to The Pom Pom Girls that is wholly unique in the vein of drive-in teen movies from the seventies. The Pom Pom Girls is a sort of exploitation film reflection of contemporary independent films such as Jeremy (1973) or Kenny & Co. (1976). The Pom Pom Girls is as much a progenitor of Dazed And Confused (1993) and Licorice Pizza (2021) as it is a launching point for Crown International Pictures’ series of teen flicks. However, none of the films that Crown International Pictures produced in this genre after The Pom Pom Girls would follow in its authentic approach.

The Pom Pom Girls isn’t so much a hard to find film as it is an overlooked film. In the pantheon of great teenaged themed movies or high school comedies The Pom Pom Girls is passed over for canonization. But it’s easy to place The Pom Pom Girls historically as the link between the far more popular American Graffiti (1973) and Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982). Perhaps The Pom Pom Girls is omitted from this critical canon because of Crown International Pictures’ association with sleazy sexploitation films or maybe it’s because the title and poster for the film evoke something more lewd than the film actually is. Regardless of the reasons behind its omission, The Pom Pom Girls deserves recognition as one of the important teen movies of the seventies.