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September 12, 2006

50 Best High School Movies Ever?


I received the latest issue of "Entertainment Weekly" yesterday. On the cover, for those who can look past Eva Longoria's rear, is the blurb, "The 50 Best High School Movies Ever". Once again I had to ask two questions: Do these guys ever take the time to see films that are NOT in English? And: Am I the only one who remembers films made before 1970? Not to totally complain, as there were some smart entries like Frederick Wiseman's High School, Elia Kazan's Splendor in the Grass, Flirting with Nicole Kidman and Thandie Newton from 1991, and the Scottish Gregory's Girl.

Looking through this list that includes two favorite musicals, Bye Bye Birdie and Rock 'n' Roll High School, I was shocked to see that my beloved High School Confidential was not included. Admittedly, this film takes place in an alternate universe with actors who look like they haven't been to any kind of school in at least a decade, but that's part of the fun of this nutty film. If you haven't seen High School Confidential, you're missing one of the greatest opening scenes in the history of cinema. Jerry Lee Lewis sings the title song, banging away on his piano with his hands and feet, performing outdoors while the kids gather 'round. This hysterical film about high school students and drugs from producer Albert Zugsmith features the bizarre set-up of Russ Tamblyn as an undercover cop posing as the nephew of Mamie Van Doren. Also in the cast are Charlie Chaplin's "Kid", Jackie Coogan, and Chaplin's kid, Charles Chaplin, Jr. John Drew Barrymore is also featured along with Michael Landon in a brief role. It's hard to fathom how the writers of Entertainment Weekly would not consider this a classic, but have room for the forgettable Can't Buy Me Love.

Since high school is not restricted to English speaking youth, there should have been some accounting for the recent trend of Japanese high school films like All about Lily Chou Chou, Kamikaze Girls and Swing Girls. These three films, just off the top of my head indicate how Japanese youth are both the same, and different, from their US counterparts. From Korea there are several films such as Momento Mori which, like Carrie look at the theme of the literal horror of high school.

Curiously, none of the post-Columbine films made the list. True, this became a genre of its own, but it indicates to me some kind of censorship at work, as if to deny how horrible high school is for some of the students. I would have listed the little seen Massacre at Central High, which may have seemed over the top in 1976 when it was released. This film about a bullied student taking revenge upon his tormentors is worth a re-examination. The tagline on the poster is "Thank God You've Graduated!". Which is pretty much how I feel about my old school.

Posted by peter at September 12, 2006 03:59 PM


Not sure if you're into Blog-A-Thons at all, but just in case you are, I'm hosting one... Drop on by for details


Posted by: Squish at September 13, 2006 10:31 PM

Squish, if you check out my archieves you'll note my blog-a-thon participation. Squish has announced an Alfred Hitchcock blog-a-thon for November 15. Flickhead has one for Forest Ackerman for November 24. To the best of my knowledge, there is still a blog-a-thon for Robert Aldrich with a date to be announced.

Posted by: Peter Nellhaus at September 14, 2006 08:43 AM