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High School Confidential
Directed by Jack Arnold
Written by Robert Blees
Lewis Meltzer
Produced by Albert Zugsmith
Starring Russ Tamblyn
Jan Sterling
John Drew Barrymore
Mamie Van Doren
Jerry Lee Lewis
Ray Anthony
Jackie Coogan
Charles Chaplin Jr.
Diane Jergens
CinematographyHarold J. Marzorati
Edited by Ben Lewis
Music by Albert Glasser
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • June 13, 1958 (1958-06-13)
Running time
84 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$532,000 [1]
Box office$1,915,000 [1]

High School Confidential is a 1958 American crime drama film directed by Jack Arnold, starring Mamie Van Doren, Russ Tamblyn, Jan Sterling, John Drew Barrymore, Jackie Coogan, Diane Jergens and Michael Landon.

The film also features a cameo by Jerry Lee Lewis who opens the movie singing a song of the same name, which Lewis co-wrote with Ron Hargrave. [2] [3] Lewis released the title track as a Sun Records 45 single which became a Top 40 hit, reaching #21 in the Billboard charts. [4] The film is listed in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson's book The Official Razzie Movie Guide as one of The 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made. [5]


Mike Wilson, a young police officer, poses as a student under the alias Tony Baker and thus infiltrates a high school in order to investigate a narcotics ring. He lives in an apartment with Gwen Dulaine, a married woman who pretends to be his aunt in public but attempts to seduce him in private.

"Tony" flirts with pupil Joan Staples and incurs the wrath of teacher Arlene Williams as he makes acquaintances in school. He discovers that Joan uses marijuana and inquires about where she purchases it. He ultimately learns that a mysterious man known only as "Mr. A" is the one who sells drugs to the students, helped by an assistant called Bix.

With help from an undercover cop, Quinn, who risks his life to save Mike's, the criminals are apprehended and Joan promises Mike that her drug use is over.


Veteran character actor Charles Halton appears uncredited in his last role as Mr. Robinson, the high school principal.


Drive-in advertisement from 1958 for High School Confidential with co-feature, Teenage Doll.

The film was based on an original script by Lewis Meltzer. It was produced by Albert Zugsmith, the first of a six-picture deal he had signed with MGM. MGM would get 75% of the profits, Zugmsith 25%. [6]

In January 1958 Russ Tamblyn, who had just made Tom Thumb, was assigned to star. [7] Filming started February 1958.

George Raft was meant to play a role but in March MGM announced Jackie Coogan would be playing the part instead. No explanation was given. [8]

Box office

According to MGM records the film earned $1,290,000 in the US and Canada [9] and $625,000 elsewhere, resulting in a profit of $578,000. However, the follow up films Zugsmith made for the studio, including The Beat Generation and Platinum High School, lost money. [1]

In popular culture

This film is sampled on White Zombie's album La Sexorcisto: Devil Music, Vol. 1 on four separate occasions: the "Do you want to start a rumble?" conversation, the "Drop it, buster!" line, the "tomorrow's a drag" poem, and the Columbus speech ("the only thing square about this world...").

In the 1980 song " High School Confidential" by the Canadian new wave band Rough Trade (album: Avoid Freud), singer Carole Pope refers to the star of this film, Mamie Van Doren.

See also


  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. ^ Crouse, Richard (2003-09-01). The 100 Best Movies You've Never Seen. ECW Press. p.  115. ISBN  1-550-22590-1.
  3. ^ Denisoff, R. Serge; Romanowski, William D. (1990). Risky Business: Rock in Film. Transaction Publishers. p. 96. ISBN  0-887-38843-4.
  4. ^ Havers, Richard; Evans, Richard (2010-04-01). The Golden Age of Rock 'N' Roll. Book Sales Inc. p. 76. ISBN  978-0-785-82625-5.
  5. ^ Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN  0-446-69334-0.
  6. ^ Universal Pictures, Trying to Erase Loss, Joins in Switch to Independent Producers By STANLEY W. PENN Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. W10 July 1958: 7.
  7. ^ JULIE LONDON CAST WITH GARY COOPER New York Times 16 Jan 1958: 32.
  8. ^ ROLE AS CO-STAR FOR MEL FERRER . New York Times 5 Mar 1958: 36.
  9. ^ "Top Grossers of 1958". Variety. 7 January 1959. p. 48. Please note figures are for US and Canada only and are domestic rentals accruing to distributors as opposed to theatre gross

External links