High School Confidential. 1958. USA . Directed by Jack Arnold. 35mm. 85 min.
“Albert Zugsmith produced some interesting semi-exploitation movies in the 1950s at Universal-International studios, including Orson Welles’s Touch of Evil, Douglas Sirk’s Written on the Wind, and the Joan Crawford vehicle Female on the Beach. Somehow Zugsmith got from U-I to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to make High School Confidential, taking U-I’s Mamie Van Doren and director Jack Arnold (The Incredible Shrinking Man) with him. Mamie was a celestial icon at Club 57, where several of her films were screened. This one concerns juvenile delinquents and drugs at school. MGM contract player Russ Tamblyn stars, along with Oscar winner Jan Sterling and Zugsmith favorites John Drew Barrymore (Drew’s father and son of Jack), Ray Anthony (Mamie’s husband), and “Woo Woo” Grabowski. Rock’n’roller Jerry Lee Lewis also appears as himself. From the website Apocalypse Later: ‘This is an amazing film. That doesn’t mean it’s a great work of art, because it certainly isn’t, but within its own parameters (firmly a B movie), it’s fascinating, and proves to be a telling snapshot of a moment in time.’” (film notes by John Epperson). Print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive.