High School Confidential! (1958) Poster

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Incredibly entertaining...and understandably a cult classic.
MartinHafer13 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This is an amazing 1950s movie because it is both highly entertaining and really cheesy fun--making it a sure cult classic. Unlike some anti-drug teenager cult films like REEFER MADNESS, this one actually has decent production values and performances--though I'll also admit there is more than enough cheese to please the "bad film fans" out there.

Russ Tamblyn plays the lead. He enters a new high school like a typhoon--walking in like he owns the place and full of hep-cat 50s lingo. At the time, audiences must have been really shocked by his thuggish ways, though today his antics just look pretty silly and way, way over the top. Later in the film, however, you discover that his "new thug on the block" routine is just an act, as he's really working with the cops to get to the bottom of a drug ring selling to rich kids at a local high school.

The film's pluses are it's hip lingo and beatnik ways. It's hip style is highly reminiscent of films such as BUCKET OF BLOOD and it is really fun to watch the "wild and untamed youth running wild" (they are about the tamest "untamed youth" I've seen since WILD ONE). Also, the plot isn't bad--making this like a hipster version of Film Noir. One of the negatives were the occasionally over the top performances--especially Mamie Van Doren as she plays a cat in heat who is desperate for action. She was perhaps the horniest lady on celluloid in the 1950s! Again, though, this was cheesy but also rather fun to watch as she acted like a sex addict going through withdrawal. However, the biggest problem with the film by far is that most of the "teenagers" in this film were actually too old even to play college students! Of the main cast, the youngest was Michael Landon who was 22 and yet they have them all playing high schoolers! It's laughable but again because it's all so funny and entertaining, I think it really adds to the film's kooky charm.

So the final verdict is that this is a highly watchable and pretty well made camp classic. Is it art? Of course not--but that's what makes it all work somehow.
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Russ The Narc
bkoganbing28 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The only thing that High School Confidential has to offer is Jerry Lee Lewis singing and playing the piano in that unique style of his. But Jerry Lee had the good sense to confine himself to singing and not attempt any dialog.

High School Confidential is the story of new kid Russ Tamblyn in the high school. He starts heading for the dope smoking crowd and why wouldn't he since Tamblyn's an undercover cop. He gradually works his way up the food chain of druggies until he can find the adult pushers who are corrupting the morals of those Eisenhower era youth. Wait till you see who the head of the gang is. Here's a hint, he's in a profession that isn't exactly unknown for its use of marijuana.

Jan Sterling plays the role of interested and concerned teacher and she's clearly getting rid of some last picture commitments on an MGM contract. As is Russ Tamblyn who was finding it more difficult to get work from MGM since they cut back on musicals.

John Drew Barrymore is positively embarrassing in his role as a high school kid, he clearly looks way too old. But you got to love Mamie Van Doren as Tamblyn's 'aunt' who tries to seduce him since she's not getting any because her husband has flown the coop.

This one should have been released as satire since that's what the producers unintentionally got.
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serious and spoof
SnoopyStyle5 June 2021
Tony Baker (Russ Tamblyn) is the new kid in school. He keeps trying to get in with the tough crowd. In reality, he's undercover cop Mike Wilson who is there to investigate the burgeoning drug scene.

Daddio! This is a big film studio trying to be hip. The highlight may be Jerry Lee Lewis playing the title song with great energy. This has a certain camp value. It's trying to be serious but often comes off as unintentionally funny. Russ Tamblyn seems to be accessing his dance energy and a bit of his future West Side Story for this performance. When J. I. goes to the front of the class to do that long mocking monologue, he hits the nail on the head and takes down the movie itself. Russ is doing a cartoon and he's doing it seriously. That's the duality of this movie. It's 22 Jump Street as both a serious teen TV drama and as a film spoof of that show at the same time.
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Every generation has their hip language, and most of it is laughably ridiculous.
mark.waltz1 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Fortunately, I never fell prey to taking on the trendy lingo of my late baby boomer generation, but for the fun of it, it's nice to go back and laugh while listening to how the hip generation becomes the broken hip generation and goes from being on the old guy's lawn to being the old guy who yells at the newest hip generation to get off their lawn. This expose of drug rackets surrounding urban high schools has the famous scene utilized in "It Came From Hollywood" where old squares try to explain to urban high school teachers just what to look out for to determine if a student is smoking pot, shooting heroine or sniffing any sort of nose inserting stimulant. Listening in is sexy teacher Jan Sterling who seems to believe that there's no such thing as a totally bad boy or girl, but for these students (some of whom seem rather long in the tooth to be high school students), they are absurdly rebellious. When newcomer Russ Tamblyn arrives at the school, he's instantly demanding control of the hip crowd, and finds himself in over his head when he tries to infiltrate a heroine ring to expose its supposed respectful leaders. John Drew Barrymore and Mamie Van Doren are among the other students, and Van Doren is over the top (both in her acting and in her cleavage) as the loose living and obviously much older than she's supposed to be sex kitten who drunkenly dumps a much older date simply because she can't stand anybody who can't hold their liquor.

The future Uncle Fester and former child star (Jackie Coogan) is the so-called respectable townsman who allows Tamblyn to start selling heroine for him, unaware that Tamblyn is really working for the police. This of course is exposed, and results in one of the most hysterical showdowns between Coogan, Tamblyn, the local law and students in a malt shop whom you all of a sudden expect to break out in a song from "Grease". Jerry Lee Lewis provides a few live musical numbers, while Diane Jergens (never heard of her!) gets "special billing" as the alleged female lead. This is a delight to the ear for its campy dialog and should be shown to every generation just to show them how ridiculous their lingo actually sounds in polite conversation. Sterling is sincere in her performance and still quite stunning to look at, while Tamblyn is obviously practicing for his upcoming role as Riff in "West Side Story". For a major studio like MGM to release this (I can't imagine this playing anywhere outside a drive-in) shows how society in the late 1950's was changing. Certainly, Louis B. Mayer never would have allowed his respectable studio to release such teenage garbage like this, especially filmed on the same street sets where the Andy Hardy series and "Meet Me in St. Louis" were once shot. As far as juvenile delinquent films go, this is probably the highest of the rung, although no classic like "Rebel Without a Cause" which took great pains in documenting the emotional struggles of teenagers in its day.
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Like, High School Confidential!, is really groovy, man!
tavm2 May 2008
Having first read about this '50s juvenile delinquent movie in the book "Cult Movies 2", when I saw a DVD displayed in my local library, I knew I had to check High School Confidential! out. With Russ Tamblyn as a troubled kid going to a new school, Diane Jergens as his potential girlfriend, and John Drew Barrymore as his rival/potential partner in a drug ring, the fireworks that happens is slowly but surely coming but not in the way you think! Mamie Van Doren is a hoot as Tamblyn's "aunt" who puts the moves on him and anyone who's not her husband who's conveniently out of town during most of the picture. There's also former child star, and later Uncle Fester, Jackie Coogan and a star of Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole, Jan Sterling, here. And then there's "The Killer", Jerry Lee Lewis, singing the title song on a flatbed truck to get things off to a rousing start. With a young Michael Landon and lots of dated slang that still provide some amusement today along with some car chases and some fights, High School Confidential! might be the most "trippin" movie from the '50s I've seen yet!
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High School Confidential On Subject Matter ***
edwagreen19 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Since Russ Tamblyn is really an undercover police officer sent to a high school to break up the drug trade, who is Mamie Van Doren, the woman who plays the boozy aunt that he lives with?

The film is most interesting since it deals with familiar themes- rampant use of drugs in our schools and parents,who either deny that the problem exists, or continuously say, "Not my child!"

Tamblyn is terrific as the masquerading delinquent. His utter disrespect for authority is fantastically depicted here.

Jan Sterling, a terrific actress, is terribly miscast here as the teacher who tries to help Tamblyn. With her facial looks, she looks like she wants to be part of the action in a desire to be loved.

Jackie Coogan, Mr. A., is in fine form here as the head drug dealer.
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Campy 50's flick. Oh my, juvenile delinquents and weed!
michaelRokeefe23 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Funny looking back at it now. This is a classic juvenile delinquency melodrama with many familiar faces. Tony Baker(Russ Tamblyn)moves to California from Chicago and he hits the high school hard and heavy to make himself known. He is living with his sex-crazed Aunt Gwen(Mamie Van Doren). Not just wanting to be a stud, but THE stud. He immediately gets into the drug scene and strives to be the top dog dealer. There in the middle of the havoc he has induced, no one knows that he's a narc. Jerry Lee Lewis opens and closes the flick riding on a flatbed truck singing "High School Confidential". Cutie Diane Jergens plays Tony's love interest. Other familiar faces you may recognize: Jan Sterling, Jackie Coogan, Lyle Talbot, Michael Landon, band leader Ray Anthony and John Drew Barrymore, who would become the estranged father of actress Drew Barrymore.
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Let's All Go to the Drive-in
dougdoepke23 September 2008
Mamie Van Doren as somebody's aunt could put a whole new slant on "visiting the relatives". Here her twin gunboats are aimed at no one in particular, and I expect she was added at the last minute to further hype this exploitation exercise. But then this was cutting edge material for 1958 teens-- sassing the teacher, hotrod chickie runs, and maybe a pull on a joint if you could find one. Yeah, this is reefer-madness for the pre-Vietnam Pepsi generation. Never mind that the movie is one-third Blackboard Jungle, one-third Rebel Without a Cause, and the rest sheer Hollywood hokum.

Producer Zugsmith may not have known Leonardo Da Vinci from Leonardo Da Caprio, but he knew how to crowd teens into drive-ins. Then too, lead actor Tamblyn may look more like a cheer-leader than a hoody delinquent, but at least he's not bored with the part. Fast-buck artists like Zugsmith knew how to market these exploitation quickies as timely warnings to parents and teens. But kids weren't fooled. They knew they could see forbidden topics like teens kissing on a bed under the uplifting guise of civic betterment. No, this drive-in special may never have made it into uptown movie houses, but as an artifact of its time, it's more fun than any 10 of that year's dreary A-productions.
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A searing expose on teenage drug use! Just kidding
preppy-328 March 2008
Silly exploitation movie. It's about tough kid Tony (Russ Tamblyn) going to live with his nymphomaniac aunt (Mamie Van Doren) and attending a new school. He meets the head kid J.I. (John Drew Barrymore), gets involved with his girlfriend Joan (Diane Jergens) and gets involved with selling drugs. But Tony may not be who he seems to be.

At times funny but mostly boring teen flick. This throws reality out the window right at the beginning with Jerry Lee Lewis on the back of a truck (with a band no less) "singing" a tune and all the "high school" kids (they're easily all in their 20s) start dancing! The 50s slang is way out of date and makes most of the "teenagers" sound like a bunch of idiots. The story is predictable and the attempt to sell this as a serious drug movie are just laughable. And seriously--Russ Tamblyn as a tough kid?????? He's terrible but he's totally miscast and the dialogue does him no favors. Barrymore adopts a hysterically stupid Southern accent and Van Doren shows off her "assets" by wearing VERY tight shirts! Sterling and Jergens try to act but nobody could make this work. I suppose this might be fun for some people but I was mostly bored. Might be worth catching to see some of the actors so young and Michael Landon in a small role but the dull story, bad acting and real jaw-dropping vamping by Van Doren make this a chore to sit through. I give it a 4.
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Highly entertaining juvenile delinquency crime drama
Red-Barracuda7 October 2021
This is a highly entertaining juvenile delinquency crime drama. It stars the go-to wise ass of the late 50's, Russ Tamblyn as a super cocky new boy in school who immediately tries to become top dog and source marijuana and heroin! Hilariously, he lives with his aunt(!?), a sex mad Mamie Van Doren (who must be maybe a year older than Tamblyn if you're lucky!), who continually tries to cop off with him! The anti-drug message is wonderfully clunky and dated, with talk of 'wheatheads' in the school graduating to heroin. There is also rock n roll (Jerry Lee Lewis sings the title song from a pickup truck), hot rod racing and a priceless Beatnik poem/song that comes outta nowhere in the coffee shop the hip kids frequent. Needless to say, this all equates to tons of fun.
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Now what does that mean in American!
sol-kay6 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** Movie about America's youth being corrupted by drug pushers who use drug addicted high school students to push their marijuana and heroin on their fellow students. Of course he local police and FBI need evidence that these horrendous crimes are going on in the high schools of our nation and use undercover agents to get the goods, and drugs, to put these fiendish drug dealers away for good. The now new kid in high school Tony Baker, Russ Tamblyn, gets into the act by him trying to take over the drug operation in Santa Bella High.***SPOILERS*** You see right away that the cocky and almost 30 year old Tony is really a teenage looking undercover agent Mike Wilson who works for the FBI who knowledge of the now ,1950's, hip and drug slang has him easily infiltrate the school's student drug operation headed by hipster student J.L Coleridge, John Drew Barrymore. It's J.L's pot addicted girlfriend Joan Staples, Diane Jergens, whom Tony makes a play for in him being able to get close to the action as well as J.L.

It's obvious as soon as you see him that Tony is not exactly whom he wants us to think that he is. A spoiled brat who wants us to think that he's in charge of things in and out of the classroom. It's Tony's history teacher Miss. Williams, Jan Sterling, who tries to straighten him out who almost ends up getting killed in the end by the drug dealers hat Tony is working, undercover that is, with. There's also Tony's sexy undercover aunt, in who's house he shares with, Gwen Delaine, Mamie Van Doren. You never can figure out just what's Miss. Van Doren is doing in the movie except providing eye candy to us guys watching her Va Va Voom figure and vital statistics, 37-24-35, that she's more then willing to show off in the ultra tights clothes that she wears.

It's after Tony gets to meet the real Mr.Big in the high school drug trade piano playing night cub owner Mr. A, Jackie Coogan, that he slips up in letting the cat out of the bag by Joan finding out, and telling J.L while she's stoned out of her skull, that she overheard a conversation between Tony and Mr.A that Tony secretly recorded that can send Mr.A away for life!

***SPOILERS*** It's now up to Tony's friends in the police FBI and student body headed by Steve Bently,Michael Landon, to come to his rescue before Mr. A, machete in hand, and his goon squad headed by Quinn, Charlie Chaplin Jr, finish him off! The free for all ending in Mr.A's night club has the lid blown off in Mr. A's drug dealing operation in Santa Bella High that he's been running. It's then that the parents of the students going to Santa Bella High realize just how naive they were in them thinking that it, drug dealing, can't happen here in suburban middle America. Which in fact has been going on for the last four or five years right under their noses!

P.S Look for Rock & Roll singer and piano player Jerry Lee Lewis banging away at his keyboard with his locks of blond hair swirling almost off his head playing the movies theme song,on the back of a flatbed truck, "Boppin at the High School Hop".
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Cool man ...cool !
Ed-Shullivan8 June 2021
Okay so the film is more than a bit outdated, but it is still a memorable film as it captures America in the 1950's with adolescents beginning to experiment with marijuana and heroin while drag racing, and of course the cliques with the geeks and the cool kids. The 1950's cars are worth watching the film alone for. There is actually a crime investigation underway, and the mob represented by the bad guy drug dealer named "Mr. A" as the mysterious head honcho who is careful with whom he lets into his inner circle.

I enjoyed the film from a nostalgic perspective with the "cool lingo" of the period such as describing marijuana as reefers and/or Mary Jane. The drag racing, the dancing, the music and of course the hip clothes man.

I give it a decent 7 out of 10 IMDB rating.
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A Very Dumb, But Very Funny 50s Teen Flick
strong-122-4788855 November 2011
Fave Movie Quote - "If you flake around with weed, you'll end up using the harder stuff."

The highlight of this hilariously awful "marijuana" morality play is the live performance given by pop-sensation Jerry Lee Lewis (who in 1957, at 22, had married the 13 year-old daughter of his cousin) doing his big hit "Great Balls of Fire" for all the rockin' potheads at Santa Bellow High.

High School Confidential features blonde bombshell Mamie Van Doren, as Gwen Dulaine, Tony's oversexed aunt in super-tight, cleavage-enhancing sweaters.

Undercover narcotics officer, Tony Baker, enrolls as a student at Santa Bellow High. Posing as a loud-mouthed tough, Tony immediately begins muscling his way into the school's rife drug scene.

As Tony quickly moves up the drug-dealing ladder, his wised-up teacher tries to reform him, his hot aunt tries to seduce him, and all the "weedheads" at school eagerly line up for their chance to sample one of Tony's choice marijuana-sticks.

Tony soon joins up with the Wheeler Dealers, one of Santa Bellow's toughest gangs, and, before long, the heat is on.

High School Confidential contains lots of unintentionally hilarious dialog. And watching the actors as they desperately attempt to look/be "cool" is what makes this film well-worth a view.
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Great performances from Russ Tamblyn and John Drew Barrymore
XweAponX14 September 2009
Also appearances by Micheal Landon, Charles Chaplin, Jr. and Jackie Cooper.

This film begins up with Jerry Lee Lewis and band pounding away in a High School parking lot as Tamblyn drives up in the coolest car ever seen in any of these Teenage Exploitation films.

Just like 1955's "Blackboard Jungle", this film depended on exploiting the music and slang of the 50's - Which it did in not so much an over-the-top fashion as films like the '50's rock and roll films like Alan Freed's "Rock Around the Clock", "Don't Rock Around the Clock", or even the anti-marijuana film "Reefer Madness".

Like "Reefer Madness", this film tries to discourage teenagers from smoking marijuana, chiefly by trying to prove that smoking marijuana leads directly to using hard drugs, which may, or may not be true- It's an angle law enforcers used to use back in the 30's that "Pot smoking always leads to using hard drugs" - An angle that we now believe as incorrect, in relation to the present day psychiatric belief that such cravings are inherited.

However, the depictions of hard drug users, and use! - in this film are as close to reality as I have ever seen, especially in a film made in the 50's.

Tamblyn as JD almost does not work, his performance just slides under the door into believability- However, the reason for this reveals itself as the film develops.

The female lead Diane Jergens as "Joan Staples" - When Tamblyn's character calls her "Kitten" she looks rather Kittenish. Also, Mamie Van Doren as Tamblyn's aunt "Gwen Dulaine" is a standout. '50s actress Jan Sterling is Tamblyn's home-room teacher and is a good solid character role for her.

One highlight of this film is by John Drew Barrymore, who as "J. I.", the ringleader of the "Wheeler-Dealers", gives us a comedic version of Columbus asking Queen Isabella for money - This delivered as a stand-up comedy routine "in front of the High School class" - And he delivers this using all 50's type slang.

Overall, the slang use in this film is the best and most realistic of all the 50's rock and roll movies and Jack Arnold, "Creature from the Black Lagoon" and other Sci Fi flicks from the 50's as well as uncredited re-shoots in "This Island Earth" takes a step away from the science fiction genre to direct this classic Teenage Rock and roll/Film-Noire film.
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Hey Cats, Dig This Blast From The Past
Lechuguilla16 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
A real cool cat (played by Russ Tamblyn) transfers to a new high school, where he wants to "rumble", and "make the scene" as the "top stud" of the "wheelers and dealers". He's "got four big ones and he's lookin' for junk". It's a blast from the past, where hot rods aren't the only thing that's smokin'; where high school teachers are from squaresville; and where the "kittens" include a very three-dimensional Mamie Van Doren. Can ya' dig?

Our cool cat tells the old biddy who works in the principal's office: "You know, if you were twenty years younger, even then I'd hate to be stuck with you on a date". Far out, man. You can call him "daddy-o", cause like, he's hip. He's "got the gold", and he wants "to score like the Yanks".

The dialogue's a hoot. But I didn't dig the cinematography ... too much light. Needs more dark interiors and smoke ... could have used some bongo drums and guys wearing "shades".

But it does have poetry. Cool! In one of the better sequences, as Jackie Coogan hits the keys, Phillipa Fallon recites a hip poem that in part goes like this: "I had a canary who couldn't sing. I had a cat that let me share my pad with her. I bought a dog that killed the cat that ate the canary. What is truth? ... We cough blood on this earth. Now there's a race for space. We can cough blood on the moon soon. Tomorrow is dragsville, cats. Tomorrow is a king-size drag". Spoken in the proper rhythm, it's out of sight!

Like, the jive is all in code, see? You have to get a fix on the lingo to gain entry into the rebellious in-crowd. The Eisenhower-era straitjacket is too tight. Needs some breathing space.

There's a nifty plot twist near the end, if you haven't been plastered already with spoilers, which are like king-size drags.

Casting and acting are groovy, especially Russ Tamblyn.

As a razzle-dazzle retro to 1950s teenage hipsville, "High School Confidential" is the cinematic bull's-eye. What a king-size hoot.
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Juvenile delinquents in the burbs. Great fun
Handlinghandel29 March 2008
"The Blackboard Jungle" had covered somewhat similar territory in a far more respectable way. Not too much about this movie could be called respectable. It does have a fine director in jack Arnold. He gave us, among others, the classic "The Incredible Shrinking Man." It's by no means a bad movie, despite its exploitative nature.

Boyish Russ Tamblyn is an unlikely jive-talking bad guy. John Drew Barrymore, on the other hand, is typecast as the snarling hotshot of this high school before Tamblyn had arrived. Diane Jergens is very good as a troubled student.

Mamie Van Doren is there for the sex appeal. Her character doesn't make much sense, to me anyway, but her name and picture on posters doubtless sold tickets. And Jan Sterling plays a teacher. She is, as always, very good.

The movie is about drugs. I have never been drawn to drugs, though most of my friends were or still are users of pot. To me "High School Confidential" seems at times like a riff on "Reefer Madness": Yes, all drugs can have their downside. However, smoking pot does not automatically, as is suggested here, lead directly to heroin use.

The movie has great Jerry Lee Lewis music. I also like Bill Haley and the Comets' famous contribution ("Rock Around the Clock") to "The Blackboard Jungle.

Had I seen this when I was a teenager, a decade or so after it came out, I wouldn't have understood it. Thankfully, I knew nothing about drugs while in high school. But I'm sure that even in 1958 some schools were overrun with them.

As a force for social change, the movie is questionable. But as an occasionally campybut solid entertainment, it's a gas, man.
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Notes on some misused talent in campy teen-exploitation flick
bmacv25 August 2002
There's not much to be said about High School Confidential, a teen exploitation movie from the end of the fabulous ‘fifties, except that it's hard to think that it wasn't just as laughable upon release as it is today. But some comments on its cast members may be in order:

• Russ Tamblyn was a child star, then primarily a dancer. This `dramatic' role fell to him between his memorable assignments in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and West Side Story. He's not at all bad here (in an badly written and implausible role), but was never able to establish himself as a serious actor, though he continued to work, showing up notably decades later in Twin Peaks.

• John Drew Barrymore had just taken up his middle name to distance himself from his legendary father; in earlier roles (The Big Night, While the City Sleeps), he was billed as John Barrymore, Jr. Here he brings off an eerily precise impersonation of Elvis Presley, speaking both in hillbilly accent and in basso-profundo register. (Alas, he does not sing.) It's clear he inherited the family talent, which he was to squander, because he also inherited the predisposition to chemical experimentation.

• Jan Sterling seemed destined for a bigger career than she ended up with. The high points of her filmography – Billy's Wilder's The Big Carnival/Ace In The Hole being the most impressive of them – were behind her, and she was taking secondary roles to the likes of latter-day Joan Crawford ( in Female on The Beach). Here, as a schoolteacher, she not only does a riff on Eve Arden's Our Miss Brooks character, she even looks like Arden.

• The late ‘fifties were the blazing noon of Mamie Van Doren's fling at playing third-string sexpot (after Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield). All Dagmars and platinum hair, she was rarely called upon to display what might have been a comic talent, visible here in fits and starts. Her role as a married nymphomaniac whose attempts at fulfilment – absent her husband – seemed doomed to disappointment is practically a clone of the part she played in The Beat Generation, a slightly more interesting vehicle that covers much of the same ground as High School Confidential.

High School Confidential remains notable from a view of drug trafficking and the process of addiction that had advanced not a whit since Reefer Madness in the ‘thirties. And of course its view of teen-aged life in the second Eisenhower administration bears not the slightest resemblance to any reality – then or now. That said, it's fun to watch.
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Fifty Years On, It Becomes A Camp Classic
crossbow01066 April 2008
You have to love watching a film like this now, its like opening a time capsule. Russ Tamblyn plays Tony Baker, a hood just transferred to this particular high school. The film is almost a cautionary tale about illegal drug use, but it also includes a drag race and a little bit about sexual attraction. Watching it now is also fun because of the people in it: Mr. Tamblyn, Michael Landon, Charlie Chaplin, JR (yes, the tramp's son!), Jackie Coogan (interesting that Chaplin's son and "The Kid" are in the same film), Jerry Lee Lewis (performing the title song) and the attractive Jan Sterling, who plays Miss Williams. Most of the dialogue is slang for those times, which is a lot of fun now. The film is less than 90 minutes long and it rolls along pretty well. Its just great to watch now. Really, enjoy it, its fun.
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Unintentionally hilarious anti-drug melodrama.
BlackJack_B2 January 2014
High School Confidential! is one of those films that was meant to be a straight drama but ends up being an unintentional laugh riot when you see grown actors trying to act hip while delivering dialog that stereotypes the scene of a 1950's High School.

Russ Tamblyn plays an undercover cop who attempts to clean out a high school of pot smokers and heroin. Mamie Van Doren (wearing bullet bras under her outfits) plays his "aunt" in her typical vampish style. John Drew Barrymore plays a Southern accented drug dealer who is the main target of the bust and Jackie "Uncle Fester" Coogan plays the drug boss.

What makes HSC so funny is the dialog. Grown adults uttering dated "hip" dialog and the constant amount of sexist come-ons to the females made me laugh. Pushing the propaganda of marijuana as evil and sinister seems really outdated since more people than ever before are toking. Regardless, it's worth viewing to laugh at the script. It's worth waiting out the boring scenes just for that next piece of emoting that Dante from Devil May Cry stole from them.

I do wish I lived my teen years in the 1950's. Seemed like a fun time to go to school. Maybe Jerry Lee Lewis would show up in a flat bed truck to perform to students.
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shepardjessica-111 October 2004
This decent late 50's teen-exploitation flick is one of the better ones, although the hot Mamie Van Doren is in it all too briefly. Jackie Coogan adds a weird twist, and Russ Tamblyn is appropriately youthful (a few years before WEST SIDE STORY). Michael Landon has a small part (around the time he started BONANZA).

A 6 out of 10. Best performance = Mamie Van Doren). This film needed more rock 'n rock songs, beside the GREAT opening number by Jerry Lee Lewis on the back of a truck. Jan Sterling is subdued as the "good" teacher and John Drew Barrymore is rather strange. Great B/W cinematography helps this slide along. Check it out!
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Rebel w/o a Cause & also w/o the Rebel
dfloro4 June 2021
Take "Rebel Without a Cause" from just three years earlier, then remove James Dean, Natalie Wood, and Sal Mineo and replace with Russ Tamblyn (the only decent actor here), Mamie Van Doren, and Willian Weldman, Jr. Now scrub the script of any insight into teen behavior & replace with unbelievably hokey '50s slang and "reefer madness" style anti-drug proselytizing (didn't you know that "blasting a little weed" inexorably leads within a week to an addiction to smack, needle tracks down both arms, and a screaming, nightmarish withdrawal?). Add in Jerry Lee Lewis w/piano rockin' through town in the back of a truck, and you have '58's High School Confidential. The plot has something to do with an attempt to excise dealers from campus, but honestly, who needs plot when Van Doren, after criticizing her date for not being able to hold his liquor, promptly passes out in the middle of the floor?! Speaking of dangerous substances....
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Enjoyable B Movie
Caz196420 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
High School Confidential is a very entertaining B Movie from the late fifties.I grew up watching films of this era so i wasn't surprised by the slang used in it,although i will admit a lot of what the character Tony says doesn't make much sense. In the seventies these teen films had become very dated where as now days they seem more authentic and interesting.If i wanted to watch a film about the 1950,s i would much rather see a film that was made then rather than view one which has been made today about this era,as they would never get it completely right.And whether this story is plausible or not the actors,cars,clothes, hairstyles are the real deal and the paranoia towards Marajuana is told from a 1950s point of view. The 1960s point of view was very different,so was the 70s and 80,s etc.I think most of the acting was very good especially from Russ Tamblyn whose character Tony Baker was invented by his real on screen character Mike Wilson so the character Tony Baker would be overblown and unbelievable because his not real.We are not supposed to take his made up character seriously,well i didn't anyway. The only real problem i had with High School Confidential is that his aunt Gwen is not his aunt Gwen as you find out later in the film,so who is she really?is she in on the confidentiality?its never explained.Any way other than that i found this to be a really fun film and the opening credits with Jerry Lee Lewis singing are great.
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Entertaining silliness
cricket-149 April 1999
This movie is deliciously dated.

The dialogue is outrageous - especially the scene in the classroom when one of the male students talks about Christopher Columbus going to that "deep pool" of the Alantic Ocean with his "non-stop studs" - which now, out of context, sounds more like a line from a gay porno flick instead of a 1950s b-movie (!).

Like many teen romps of the late 50s, the sound track is way cool, with Jerry Lee Lewis doing the opening theme song.

Lots of fun. Mamie Van Doren as always, is a treat. The cast includes a lot of people who were in a bunch of 50s flicks together - Jackie Coogan, Russ Tamblyn, Jan "Female on the Beach" Sterling, etc.

If you like this film, you'll also like Mamie in "Girls Town".
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It's all about the weed
delibebek21 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
"High School Confidential" is a tale with a moral, but it doesn't wait until the end to start preaching. The topic of interest is made clear early on, and the effects are as logical as those that were outlined in "Reefer Madness" in the 1930s. But while the older movie seemed designed to inspire drug use, and somehow got remodeled to look like an attempt to sober the youth, "High School Confidential" was designed to show the dangers of dope - hocking the family's prized possessions and engaging in drag races. None of these things could happen to young people who hadn't been smoking marijuana. Teenagers are just too practical when not under the influence.

Somehow, the movie tries to get over on the young people by showing what a great feel they have for the current lingo. When Tony first arrives at his new high school, even his English teacher is teaching them about slang, explaining what some of the terms mean, as if this is how slang spreads, through the great American education system. When she steps from the room, one of the students, in his early 30s by the look of him, demonstrates the eloquence of the latest hip chatter by reciting the story of Columbus asking Isabella for financing to prove the world is round. After all, when the English teacher teaches about slang, perhaps the history teacher spreads contemporary misconceptions about history as well. In addition, there is a nice demonstration of the difference between a "normal cigarette" and a hand- rolled joint. That's education in action.

In a broader perspective, this story picks up where "On the Road" left off, continuing the story of post-war American youth into the next generation. While Kerouac's crew were among those wild ones slipping under the radar of social consciousness not yet ingrained to the need stronger values to protect their cultural ideals, the HSC crew were just indignantly rebellious in their music, their language, and especially in what they smoked.

This movie is no "Blackboard Jungle" just another movie trying to use the new trend of white- sung rock and roll to trample the seeds of iniquity before society has a chance to water them. Looking at the 60s, this movie may have fostered more drug use than it intended to hinder. They make it look fun, after all.
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"With Me Baby, It's All Business"
Gargantuan-Media5 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Gear up for a swanky romp through the seedy underbelly of campy exploitation in this classic nugget featuring the World's Oldest Troubled Teens.

A fiery Jerry Lee Lewis opens the movie rolling through the bucolic 1950's streets belting out the title song in opening credits.

The chase and race scenes in this movie are actually really excellent for a B movie. This almost makes for the ham handed "twists" (that were probably mid-shoot re-writes) of Tony secretly being Mike Wilson "Undercover Man".

It appears to me that the writers wanted to squeak by the Hays Code after they created a unforgiving anti-hero in Tony. This wounded anti-hero role, before the High School Caesar is revealed as an FBI MAN, would be picked up on by generations of actors including Brando and James Dean minus the G-Man or redeeming values angle.

Mamie is awesome as usual. She plays a perky and moody sexpot on the prowl competing for Tony/Mike's attention with his teacher, the straight laced Jan Sterling. Be sure to dig the way out hipster/beatnik action in the jazz nightclub featuring Mr. Big and catch a young Michael Landon wandering through scene after scene visibly wondering exactly what he's doing in the film at all.

If you like this flick, you'll really dig Highschool Ceasar!
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