Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Three O'clock High - Don't Mess with the New Kid In School


The year is 1986, and I've just started my Freshman year at Ben Lomond High School in Ogden, Utah. During my third period gym class, a person claiming to be a casting agent for a movie being filmed at our rival school, Ogden High, is looking for stand-in actors to be used in crowd scenes. Being the young and naive 14 year old I was at the time, I assumed that I had to have actual acting capabilities and previous acting experience, so I did not sign up to be a stand in actor. What a great mistake I made that day. The movie turned out to be Three O'clock High, released in 1987. Watching this movie today, it's fun for me to see many people I know in the movie, including a cousin.

High School reporter and bookstore clerk Jerry Mitchell (Casey Siemaszko) is assigned to write a story about a tough new kid in school named Buddy Revell (Richard Tyson), who is seen as a bully and does not get along with anyone. Mitchell tries to call off the story when he confronts Revell in the school restroom, but then angers Revell who challenges Mitchell to a fight after school. Mitchell spends the rest of the film trying to figure out how to get out of the fight.

Mitchell has a knife planted in Revell's locker to try and get him suspended from school. He even steals money from the school bookstore cash register to pay off another student to threaten Revell. When that fails, Mitchell's last attempt is to try and pay off Revell to leave him alone. When Revell accuses Mitchell of being a coward, Mitchell decides to go through with the fight in the parking lot after school.

The 1980s was a time when teenagers became an important and marketable subject in film. By the mid-1980s, filmmaker John Hughes had cornered the market on the teen romantic comedy genre of films of teenagers in High School. His great classics include Sixteen Candles (1984), The Breakfast Club (1985), Ferris Buehler's Day Off (1986), and Pretty In Pink (1986). Not only did these films resonate with teenagers of the 1980s, but they all included iconic soundtrack music that defines the 80s decade.

Three O'clock High director Phil Joanou perhaps saw his film as an opportunity to cash in on the success of Hughes' teenage romantic comedy films that were so popular in the 1980s. Three O'clock High focuses less on any romantic aspect and more on the conflict of teenagers just trying to make it through high sSchool, or even just trying to make it through the day. We all know what it's like to have to deal with bullies in school. Three O'clock High taps into this problem, but does it in a way that is entertaining and fun. Happy viewing.

-- Steve D. Stones

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