A nerd gets himself in hot water with the new bully, a quiet bad boy who challenges him to fight on the grounds of their high school after the day’s end.
Three O’Clock High (1987) movie , a surprise cult VHS hit that arrived just on the tail end of the 80’s. It was an era when “The Breakfast club”, “Pretty in Pink”, “National Lampoon’s Vacation” and “Weird Science” were the general norm for moviegoers (the John Hughes” era). This formula-driven teen comedy era gave birth to some really great performances and scripts which in turn influenced the next year’s line of releases. Three O’Clock High being one of them.
Three O’Clock High (1987) was a repeat-viewing type of film filled with drama, action, and predominantly comedy all centered around high schooler Jerry Mitchell and his 3 O’clock high school challenge. So what criteria made up this perfect marriage of characters played out so well? On one hand we have school newspaper nerd Jerry Mitchell played by actor Casey Siemaszko, on the other we have the film’s bad boy, Buddy Revell, played by actor Richard Tyson. The first scene plays out beatifically as high school gossip carries forward from conversation to conversation regarding the arrival of this a new student.
Buddy of course, plays the new kid, a troubled kid who managed to get himself repeatedly thrown out of high schools due to violent behavior. Buddy’s reputation proceeds creating an even more ominous presence to the local students in attendance. Rumors circulate about Buddy’s past (which really we never know entirely what is fact from fiction) setting the tone for his demeanor and presence in the film.
As the story here goes, Jerry tasked with doing a school paper piece on Buddy manages to screw things up by insulting Buddy and then touching him (despite Buddy’s reputation for being a “touch-freak”). Now this confrontation could have easily ended with Buddy giving Jerry a beat down in the high school rest room, however the precedence of this film is set when Buddy claims that the 2 of them will fight after school.
The comedy aspect of this movie plays brilliantly as Jerry plots and schemes of ways to get himself “out” of a school fight with the toughest guy who’s ever attend Weaver High School (Note: originally shot at shot at Ogden High School in Ogden, Utah). Jerry’s role as the school’s student store clerk is brought into the mix as Jerry proceeds to make a serious of bad choices. highly school friend Franny (Anne Ryan) bats her eyes at Jerry to gain his attention which is simply ignored out of ignorance. The film centers entirely on 1 single day which not unlike “Ferris Bueller’s (movie)” single day, is event-filled from start to finish.
Buddy and Jerry make the perfect protagonist antagonist grouping fit for high school film humor. Each actor plays their parts to the T taking on the conflict angle often presented in these early 80’s films (aka “Savage Streets”, “Roadhouse 66”, My Bodyguard,….etc). Buddy who easily towers over Jerry, hits the mark in this one by being the film’s ultimate school bully unrelenting in letting Jerry weasel his way out of their fated after school fight. The film manages to add all sorts of cleaver inclusions to the mix heLping it to only serve as a cool 80s film but also leaving behind a certain cult legacy previously left to old DVD/VHS copies to gloat over.
Actors Casey Siemaszko, and Richard Tyson would go on to all sort of future roles running the gamut of DVd releases on the market, Casey also appearing in films “Stand by Me”, “Young Guns”, “Back to the future” and “The Phantom”. Tyson would stay pretty strong in the action, dram, horror side of movies spanning countless roles over the years in often countless films (not many would remember),
Now in research, this film did poorly at the box office which most likely affected its lack of immediacy to digital, however most viewers will be surprise at how entertaining and fun this film can be. At the time Three O’Clock High became the recommended cult hit to see ignoring its box office draw and diverting to its clever use of situational comedy.
Hat’s off to Shout Entertainment for dusting this one off and giving it the bluray treatment it deserves. This runaway which also seemed to fly under the radar was not only a charming era piece, but a great story filled with all sorts of memorable scenes and moments.
This one is a must own that stands the test of time by simply being a funny piece of work worth talking about. In bluray form with small helping of extras. We would have loved to see the 2 main actors joining us for a re-look but that didn’t seem to be in the stars for this release.
NEW Audio Commentary With Director Phil Joanou
NEW “Head Of The Class” – An Interview With Phil Joanou
NEW “Passing the Test” – Interviews With Screenwriters Richard Christian Matheson And Tom Szollosi
NEW “School Clothes” – An Interview With Costume Designer Jane Ruhm