In the 1986 classic comedy Back To School, Rodney Dangerfield played a brash, obnoxious millionaire named Thornton Melon who sends his son off to school. Then, in a quintessential ’80s movie twist, he decides to enroll alongside him, remembering his own father’s long-forgotten words of advice: “A man that has no education has nothing.” It’s not only the classic fish-out-of-water tale, but it’s also a story about a father trying his best to be there for his son, all while bettering himself through higher learning. To celebrate Dangerfield’s birthday, here’s a celebration of some of Thornton Melon’s most outlandish moments from Back To School.
“A, B, C, you’re in the top three, so what are you worried about?” – Thornton
After he splits up with his unfaithful wife, he and Lou, his limo driver played by Burt Young, decide to pay his son, Jason, a surprise visit. Thinking he was in a fraternity and a member of the diving team (instead of just the towel boy), Thornton is hurt that his son would lie to him (“you don’t lie to me, you lie to girls”). When Jason begins describing the difficult time he’s having — socially and academically — Thornton tries to help him look on the bright side.