High School Confidential

High School Confidential

Before MST3K there was The Texas 27 Film Vault!

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of this neglected cult show from the 1980’s. Randy Clower, Richard Malmos, Ken “Tex” Miller and Joe “The Hypnotic Eye” Riley played machine-gun toting members of the fictional Film Vault Corps (“the few, the proud, the sarcastic”) who would show and mock bad and campy movies preceded by episodes of old Republic serials. They would also have comedic sci-fi adventures before and after commercial breaks.

ORIGINALLY BROADCAST: Saturday September 7th, 1985 from 10:30pm to 1:00am.

SERIAL: Before the movie our Film Vault Technicians First Class showed and mocked a chapter of Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940).

FILM VAULT LORE: Randy Clower at E-Gor’s site on Texas 27 Film Vault groupies: “We were a bit wild during that time and having a cult show on late at night opened a few doors around the Dallas area which we were all more than willing to go through and explore.” 

THE MOVIE: High School Confidential has a well-deserved reputation as one of the campiest Juvenile Delinquency films of the 50’s and 60’s. Some of the fun comes from the hilariously heavy-handed anti-marijuana messages sprinkled throughout the movie, most of them delivered by some of the stiffest adults imaginable. Seriously, the grown-ups in this movie are so uptight they make Dragnet‘s Joe Friday seem like Elvis Presley.

Jerry Lee Lewis performs the opening song on the back of a flat-bed truck. Even if you’ve never watched this film you have probably seen the footage of this iconic performance by Lewis.

High School Confidential

High School Confidential

Russ Tamblyn stars as a sneering punk who wants to move up from pushing marijuana to dealing heroin. MAJOR SPOILER: Many of the film’s laughs come from how old Tamblyn and his fellow cast members look for supposed high school students. In Tamblyn’s case it’s because he’s really an undercover cop out to bust the dealers supplying the high school students with dope.

John Drew Barrymore, who is John Barrymore’s son and Drew Barrymore’s father, plays a marijuana dealer too timid to move on to the harder stuff. Barrymore’s use of slang stands out even in this film’s orgy of 50’s teen argot, especially when he delivers an all-slang “history lesson” about Columbus discovering America.

Mamie Van Doren, for once playing a character her real age, plays Tamblyn’s “aunt”, whose husband is out of town and who tries to seduce Russ’s character with howlingly over-the-top vamping.

Jackie Coogan portrays the nefarious drug lord of the piece. His front is a Beat club where some incredibly lame, cornball and funny attempts at Beat Poetry are recited, with Coogan himself playing in the jazz band that accompanies the recitations.

Charley Chaplin Jr, whose father Coogan appeared with in The Kid, plays a seemingly menacing man lurking in the background of many scenes, but who turns out to be one of Tamblyn’s fellow undercover cops.

"No, Frenchies, it was Jerry LEE Lewis, not Jerry Lewis who appeared in this movie!"

“No, Frenchies, it was Jerry LEE Lewis, not Jerry Lewis who appeared in this movie!”

Michael Landon portrays a hot-rod racing jock who races Tamblyn in the film’s obligatory Drag Race. He also leads his fellow football players into battle with the drug lord’s goons in the action-packed, yet absurd, finale.

Ray Anthony, who was married to Mamie Van Doren in real life at the time, plays one of Coogan’s underlings. Ray loves booze which infuriates Coogan in what I guess is supposed to be supreme irony but which really just seems silly.

Lyle Talbot, Ozzie and Harriet’s neighbor, is a cop who delivers some of the film’s most heavy-handed anti-drug proselytizing.

Jody Fair, who was apparently required by law to appear in any and all teen-oriented movies of the 50’s, appears as a jonesing teenager being pushed toward prostitution by Coogan.

Randy (right) and Richard way down on Level 31 hosting The Texas 27 Film Vault

Randy (right) and Richard way down on Level 31 hosting The Texas 27 Film Vault

Some of the slang shrapnel that lodged in my mind from this flick:

“That’s the way the bongle bingles.”

“I’m puttin’ it down … Are you pickin’ it up?” (I’ve owned dogs who seemed to live by that motto.) 

“I’m lookin’ to graze in some grass.” (As in purchasing marijuana, but you can insert your own cunnilingus joke here.)

“Let’s blow this Townsville!” (A Power Puff Girls joke would be way too easy.)

“I’m not no schmoe from kokomo.” (I’m putting that on my business cards.)

” I really dig a gassy chick like you.” (No comment.)

And of course the words Tamblyn uses to greet his female teacher: “Why don’t we cut out and go to your pad and light it up?” (Smoooooth!)

Naturally in the end the bad guys all go to jail, Russ reveals his true identity to his teacher so they can start a romance and Mamie’s husband returns to take care of her horniness. A ham-fisted voiceover from Lyle Talbot wraps it all up for us, providing one last round of laughs as the film comes to an end.  

IN THE NEAR FUTURE BALLADEER’S BLOG WILL PRESENT MORE TEXAS 27 FILM VAULT MILESTONES. Be here to share the Film Vault Corp’s mission of “safeguarding America’s schlock-culture heritage”.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFO ON THIS SHOW – https://glitternight.com/texas-27-film-vault/

© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 


Filed under Bad and weird movies, Movie Hosts


  1. Great Post, funny movie. I always like to read your posts about The Texas 27 Film Vault! Randy and Richard paved the way for MST3K!

  2. Are you fucking with me? This show was pretty much a pre-Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of Mystery Science Theater 3000!

  3. Unquestionably cool! These guys were just a couple years away from being MST3K!

  4. Tamblyn makes me laugh in this.

  5. ur reviews of this show and the movies from it always make me smile.

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  9. Classic bomb and what sounds like a classic show!

  10. Very funny! Loved this review and the tv show!

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  12. Would have loved to see Randy and Richard riffing on this movie!

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  21. OMG! This early version of MST3K sounds so much more fun! No stupid songs!

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