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High School Confidential!


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The Blackboard Jungle, this ain't.




What a cast. Jerry Lewis sings the title tune sitting at a piano on back of pickup truck. Then it's on to the story.


Russ Tamblyn plays a tough, in his 7th year of high school (but he's really an undercover drug agent). Mamie Van Doren plays his "aunt" (but she's really Mamie Van Doren). The first few times Mamie appears, muted trumpets sound. For trivia buffs, her real husband at the time, bandleader Ray Anthony, also appears in the film as a hood.


John Drew Barrymore plays the high school big man. He sounds like a cross between Elvis and Robert Duvall. William Wellman Jr. plays a tough guy. Charles Chaplin Jr. plays an undercover cop. Their parents must have been so proud.


Jan Sterling plays the high school English teacher ? at least, I think that's what she was teaching. When Tamblyn first shows up in her class, she sends him to the Principal's Office. Later, when her car won't start, she accepts a ride home from him. Right. This is why I keep my office door open when students stop in.


Jackie Coogan plays the big man, "Mr. A." and also plays the piano in a combo. The bass player in the combo is Charles Horvath, best known for carrying around Robin Hughes' head in The Thing that Couldn't Die.


Mel Welles, last seen as a Frenchman in Attack of the Crab Monsters, has a bit part here. He is also listed under the credits for "Special Material." Presumably, he supplied the joints for everyone.


There is an obligatory hot rod race, which seems to be more of a contest over who wears the worst hat.


The dialogue is about what you would expect.

Samples: "That's tough toenails." "Make like bubble gum and blow."


The ending is a laff riot as the "good high school students" led by Michael Landon take out the bad guys in a rumble at a night club.


The director was Jack Arnold, who did some good work with sci-fi early in the 50s. The producer was Albert Zugsmith, who did mostly bad work forever.


Can College Confidential! be any better/worse?

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I imagine the slang used in the schools of the South and in California today is more alike than it was back in ?58, because there is more widespread youth media today. But back in the ?50s, those of us growing up in the South were deprived of films about California teens, and we thought there were only two types of New York teens.... hoodlums like those in Blackboard Jungle, and dancing guys like these.....



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No, not really. The Blackboard Jungle boys were acting like New York hoodlums, while the West Side Story boys were acting like New York dancers.


When I grew up and got out of college, I wanted to leave the South. I had a choice of either going to New York.....






or California....




So I went to California.

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