High School Confidential (1958).
Another in the long line of ’50s teen exploitation movies, “High School Confidential” has all the makings of a campfest. However, this one sets itself apart by featuring a script (by Robert Blees and Lewis Meltzer) that presents a mature and insightful handling of drug use among teens. While this could have been another predictable screed against wild youth, it instead turns the tables by making the adults the real drug pushers and having the kids band together to bring them down.
Russ Tamblyn stars as an undercover cop who teams up with student Jan Sterling to infiltrate a high school pot and heroin ring run by local big shot Jackie Coogan. The film also features performances by less-successful Hollywood scions (and ’50s teen movie mainstays) John Drew Barrymore and Charles Chaplin, Jr., as well as Mamie Van Doren in the improbable role of Tamblyn’s sex-crazed aunt. Jerry Lee Lewis makes a couple of brief appearances performing the title song.
The place to start exploring this genre is “Blackboard Jungle,” the one that started it all. But after that, make “High School Confidential” your next stop.
“If you flake around with the weed, you’ll end up using the harder stuff.”
Van Doren and Chaplin later appeared together in the much campier “Girls’ Town” (1959).
“Blackboard Jungle” (1955).
Take a Look:
You get two for the price of one — the trailer AND Jerry Lee Lewis throwing it down in the opening credits:
Mamie does her thing: