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High School Confidential (1958).

November 16, 2007

The Scoop:
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.

Best Line:
“If you flake around with the weed, you’ll end up using the harder stuff.”

Side Note:
Van Doren and Chaplin later appeared together in the much campier “Girls’ Town” (1959).

Companion Viewing:
“Blackboard Jungle” (1955).

Links:
IMDb.
Hollywood Teen Movies.

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:

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One Comment leave one →
  1. delltones1 permalink
    April 2, 2018 5:23 pm

    Cool. This was like the ’21 Jumpstreet’ of the late ’50s. He knew he was on a case of a h.s. drug dealer & having had other girls he stays professional while casually avoiding his horny “aunt” whose paid for his rooming there by the police dept. 1 of the ways that this was comical was in the sense that in most cases the guy would plough into an interested, attractive, hot woman, that he’s placed with. ,,,But he’s sizing up the school. Don’t think this was contrived though, there were some urban schools that had their share of crime & mayhem back in the 50s, not as much as now but there was.
    Another movie dealing with real situations from back then, & still now, is ‘The Young Savages’ 1961. It’s like a 50s-early 60s version of ‘Law & Order’. Sure some spots are dated, but we’ll all be too in 60yrs. It’s about 2 New York City streetgangs trying to kill each other & the prosecution’s efforts to get 3 of the gang members for a murder. The details that pop up are surprising. Check out this movie on YouTube. But there’s some golden oldies still left out there. & High School Confidencial is 1 of them.

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