Johnny Be Good

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Johnny Be Good
Johnny Be Good.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBud S. Smith
Produced byAdam Fields
Written bySteve Zacharias
Jeff Buhai
David Obst
Music byJay Ferguson
Judas Priest
CinematographyRobert D. Yeoman
Edited byScott Smith
Distributed byOrion Pictures
Release date
  • March 25, 1988 (1988-03-25)
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$17,550,399

Johnny Be Good is a 1988 American comedy film directed by Bud S. Smith, starring Anthony Michael Hall as the main character, Johnny Walker. The film also features Robert Downey Jr., Paul Gleason, Steve James, Jennifer Tilly and Uma Thurman. Former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon along with sportscaster Howard Cosell make cameo appearances.

Judas Priest, Saga and Ted Nugent, among others, contributed to the soundtrack. The title track, "Johnny B. Goode", originally recorded by Chuck Berry, was re-recorded by Judas Priest for their album, Ram It Down.


Johnny Walker is the top high school quarterback prospect in the nation, and is being heavily recruited by many schools. His best friend, Leo Wiggins, thinks he should hold out for the best offer. His girlfriend, Georgia, wants him to go to State University with her and get a solid education.

The various colleges offer him everything he could possibly want — hot girls, cars, cash, free room and board, etc. One school even buys Leo a car, while another offers to provide him with male companions if he isn't interested in women. His coach, Wayne Hisler (who Johnny hates), even tries to sell him out by striking a deal with one of the interested colleges to become their next head coach, if he signs their scholarship offer.

Although he has all the skills a coach would want in a quarterback, Johnny is unsure where he wants to go. Being tempted by the offers, praise, and attention, his ability to make good decisions is blurred. Johnny begins to get a "big head", which irritates his family. After he returns home dressed in a gaudy outfit, his mother reminds him not to forget about what's important. Johnny visits State University, and asks the head coach what he can do for him in order to convince Johnny to sign with State. The coach tells Johnny he will give him a scholarship, a good education, and a chance to earn the starting QB job, and that's all he'll give him. He tells Johnny that he is headed for a lot of trouble if he signs with the colleges that are giving him gifts and money, which is a violation of NCAA rules. Johnny dismisses him out-of-hand.

During a visit to Piedmont University, Johnny and his best friend end up in a motel room with three girls. The local sheriff then turns up after the girls falsely accuse them of rape. Coach Hisler visits him in jail, and tells him that either he can sign with Piedmont so they can both prosper, or he can end up in prison on the fake charges. While sitting in jail, Johnny discovers that Leo had something to do with his predicament, and is disappointed in him.

On Signing Day, the entire world watches his press conference with anticipation. Coach Hisler then calls the other four top prospects from Johnny's high school team up onto the stage with him and Johnny, where he announces that they will all be at Piedmont that next school year. He as head coach, and Johnny as quarterback. When Johnny has a chance to speak, he states how disappointed he is in himself, and would rather not play than be treated special just for being able to throw a football. When the other four players refuse to sign with Piedmont as well, everyone begins to go crazy. The NCAA recruitment investigator comes on stage, and announces that he's been watching the recruitment of Johnny very closely. He then states several of the worst offending colleges will be under investigation for recruiting violations, including Piedmont University, for framing Johnny and Leo for rape. Afterwards, many of the other schools think they still have a chance to sign him, and beg him to reconsider them. The sports agent causes a huge melee, but Johnny walks away with Leo and Georgia.

He is then seen running down a hallway to the office of an unknown Athletic Director. It turns out to be the head coach of State University, who accepts Johnny, and officially offers him a scholarship, after he says that he just wants a good education and a chance to play football. After signing with State, he drives off with Georgia and Leo.

Over the credits, you see Johnny playing the drums while watching the collateral damage for all of the people caught in the recruitment scandal (including his former coach, who is in jail).



The film was filmed, in part, in Georgetown, Texas and at Thomas Jefferson High School and Alamo Heights High School in San Antonio. The scene near the end of the film in which Anthony Michael Hall runs down a corridor, was filmed at San Antonio's University of the Incarnate Word. At the end of the film where he rides away with Uma Thurman and Robert Downey Jr., is filmed at San Antonio's University of the Incarnate Word. One scene was filmed in New Braunfels, Texas at Keno's Drive Inn grocery and bait store.


The film was a failure at the box office and for its star, Anthony Michael Hall. At review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, as of April 2020, Johnny Be Good had a 0% rating, based on 15 reviews, with an average score of 2.33/10.[1] On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 10 out of 100, based on 8 critics, indicating "Overwhelming dislike".[2]

Awards and nominations

Nugent's contribution to the soundtrack, "Skintight", earned nomination for a 1988 Golden Raspberry Award as Worst Original Song.


  1. ^ Rotten Tomatoes, "Johnny Be Good (1988)". Accessed July 26, 2014.
  2. ^ "Johnny Be Good (1988) reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved April 5, 2020.

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