The theme tune of this movie is simply magnificent, played by twangy-guitar ace Duane Eddy, and it rightly outlived this little Columbia teenage angst flick.
A cameo was written into the film for Eddy, but he’s most prominent miming the melody of this otherwise string-drenched tune solely on the bass strings of his guitar in an assembly hall populated by cavorting teenagers.
The film was given street credibility by the starring presence of American Bandstand host (and teen idol) Dick Clark as Neil Hendry, the new ex-football star teacher at Harrison High School, who is still haunted by a tragic event in his past. Hendry takes an interest in the personal problems of his pupils, despite frowns from Principal Donlan (Wendell Holmes). Unfortunately, Clark proved to be no thespian.
Hendry’s students include Buddy McCall (Warren Berlinger), a promising football player; Anne Gregor (Tuesday Weld), an ” experienced ” girl, and Griff Rimer (Michael Callan), a delinquent trying to make a fresh start. following an affair with Anne.
Buddy, now Anne’s “steady,” gets a shock on learning that his own mother (Linda Watkins) is no better than she should be and goes berserk when Gruff, jealous, brags about his and Anne’s association.
Later, Griff is troubled by crooks, one of whom knifes him, but eventually, Neil Hendry puts things right.
At the helm was superior cult director Paul Wendkos, perhaps best-remembered for Gidget (1959).
The film is based on a paperback bestseller of its day called Harrison High by John Farris, and the student cast is a teen dream: here’s Tuesday Weld and James Darren (who also recorded the theme song), plus Cat Ballou‘s Michael Callan and Warren Berlinger, who starred in How to Succeed in Business in London’s West End.
Very much of its time. Dig it for the fashions.
Richelle ‘Ricky’ Summers