Three O’Clock High (1987) Film Review

Rating PG
Length 1h41
Release 9.10.1987 (USA. No UK release)
Director Phil Joanou
About Preppy high school reporter Jerry Mitchell (Casey Siemaszko) is asked to write a story on a tough new kid named Buddy Revell (Richard Tyson), a boy rumored to have a violent past. Jerry tries to call off the story, but in the process he infuriates Buddy, who challenges him to a parking lot brawl immediately after school that same day. As Jerry desperately attempts to escape the impending fight, he instead ends up finding the courage to stand up to Buddy.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Rental from Amazon Prime

The Good

  • There’s this wonderful western feel about the film. Almost a reworking of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance or The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. I’d never thought how well suited the High School environment was for the typical Western story.
  • This is such a surprising film. Once you know the director was inspired by Scorsese, you can really see the influence. It works and I’m really glad it didn’t go for the same tone as all the other ‘coming of age’ films.
  • The film being contained to the one day is such a good move. Its only a shame that the film doesn’t set a date so that it could have yearly rematch protentional, much like the brilliant Empire Records and charming Groundhog Day.

The Bad

  • Plot point: Buddy’s whole motivation for wanting to fight Jerry is that “I don’t like people knowing me.” Well, I can see where you’re going wrong. You don’t want people knowing you? STOP FIGHTING PEOPLE!
    I find it so frustrating that he’s the reason why people are so curious about him. It starts before we even see him because of his behaviour in the previous school. Gah, it’s nonsensical and drives me mad. What’s worse is that it is the type of non logical that students do actually use.

The Ugly

  • Two plot points:
    ONE: The English teacher who is kissed by Jerry not only doesn’t give him a detention, but she full on kisses him in front of everyone?! Okay, so its a trope, but this trope must die.
    TWO: Buddy destroys the library, breaks a kid’s nose, punches out the principle and a security guard before he engages in the fight with Jerry. Yet he turns up the next day, no problem. How was that kid not arrested?!

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed it, despite its faults. I could have done with more Mitch Pileggi, but I’m equally happy with the little I got.

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