Three O'Clock High

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Three O'Clock High
Three o clock high p.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Phil Joanou
Written by
Produced byDavid E. Vogel
Cinematography Barry Sonnenfeld
Edited byJoe Ann Fogle
Music by Tangerine Dream
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • October 9, 1987 (1987-10-09)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$5 million
Box office$3.6 million [1]

Three O'Clock High is a 1987 American teen comedy film directed by Phil Joanou. The script, about a meek high schooler who is forced into a fight with an unstable new transfer student, is based on the high school experiences of screenwriters Richard Christian Matheson and Thomas Szollosi. It was shot in Ogden, Utah.



Meek high school student Jerry Mitchell and his sister Brei are home alone while their parents are on vacation. The Weaver High School students this morning are gossiping about new student Buddy Revell, an allegedly violent psychopathic delinquent transferred from a continuation high school.

Jerry's day begins at the school newspaper, where his best friend, Vincent Costello, is editor. Their journalism teacher suggests an article about Buddy to welcome the "new kid" and assigns Jerry an interview. Jerry sees Buddy in the restroom and clumsily attempts to introduce himself but realizes he is annoying Buddy. He tells Buddy to disregard the interview request, and gives Buddy a friendly tap on the arm. Buddy, who has a touch phobia, throws Jerry against a wall and declares the pair will fight outside the school at 3:00 P.M. Buddy warns that running away or reporting the incident would only make matters worse.

Throughout the day, Jerry tries different strategies to avoid the fight. Attempting to reason with Buddy doesn't work. Vincent plants a switchblade in Buddy's locker to get him kicked out of school. Brei advises Jerry simply to skip school, but in his mom's car Jerry finds the switchblade stuck in the steering wheel and ignition wires cut. Trying to run, Jerry is caught by overzealous security guard Duke. Duke finds the switchblade and takes Jerry to Dean of Discipline Mr. Dolinski, who warns Jerry he is under suspicion.

Jerry's further attempts to avoid the fight include bribing football player Craig with money stolen from the school store to intimidate Buddy, getting detention by flirting with a teacher, a séance with his friend Franny, and letting Buddy cheat on his math quiz. All fail, and the clock continues to tick down. Buddy ultimately accepts Jerry's stolen cash in exchange for calling off the fight, but proclaims Jerry a coward since he didn't even try to fight. Seized with self-loathing and anger, Jerry confronts Buddy and demands the money back. Buddy refuses, and Jerry declares the fight back on.

The clock finally reaches the appointed hour, and the fight begins before hundreds of eager students. Principal O’Rourke tries to break it up, but when he touches Buddy's shoulder, Buddy punches him to the ground. Duke and Franny also attempt to intervene, but Buddy knocks out Duke and pushes Franny aside. Jerry, though out-matched, stands his ground while being knocked down. Buddy takes out his brass knuckles, but Vincent distracts him and causes him to drop the weapon, which Brei picks up and slips to Jerry. Jerry desperately uses the brass knuckles to punch Buddy, knocking him out and winning the fight. During the subsequent excitement and police arrival, Buddy vanishes while Jerry is let go for the day.

The next morning, many students show Jerry their admiration and support. They buy individual sheets of paper for $1 from the school store to help make up the missing cash. Buddy appears, silencing the crowd, and returns the money to Jerry. Weaver is filled with new gossip, as Jerry, now allegedly dating his crush Karen, replaces Buddy as the hot discussion topic. Rumors deviate far from the truth.



Three O'Clock High
Three O'Clock High.png
1987 U.S. CD cover
Soundtrack album by
Genre Electronic music
Label Varèse Sarabande
Tangerine Dream chronology
Three O'Clock High
Near Dark

The film's soundtrack is the thirty-first major release and ninth soundtrack album by Tangerine Dream. Additional music was provided by Sylvester Levay. [2] The song, "Something to Remember Me By", was written and performed by Jim Walker.

Track listing

1."It's Jerry's Day Today" 0:44
2."46-32-15" 0:47
3."No Detention" 1:01
4."Any School Bully Will Do" 0:33
5."Go to the Head of the Class" 3:10
6."Sit"Sylvester Levay0:47
7."The Fight"Sylvester Levay2:35
8."Jerry's Decision"Sylvester Levay4:28
9."The Fight is On"Sylvester Levay4:39
10."Paper"Sylvester Levay1:28
11."Big, Bright Brass Knuckles" 1:18
12."Buying Paper Like it's Going Out of Style" 1:35
13."Dangerous Trend" 0:54
14."Who's Chasing Who" 0:59
15."Bonding By Candlelight" 1:35
16."You'll Never Believe It" 2:19
17."Starting The Day Off Right" 1:16
18."Weak At The Knees" 2:34
19."Kill Him (The Football Dummy)" 1:04
20."Not So Quiet in the Library/Get Lost In A Crowd" 1:34
21."Something to Remember Me By"Jim Walker4:12
22."Arrival"Rick Morotta and David Tickle2:10



Box office

The film opened in 849 theaters nationwide on October 9, 1987, and earned $1,506,975 on its opening weekend, 40.9% of its total gross. The total lifetime gross is approximately $3,685,862, against the original budget of $5,000,000.[ citation needed ]

Critical response

The film earned mixed reviews, and has a "rotten" rating of 57% on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 14 critical reviews. [3]

Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times gave the film one out of four stars, declaring the plot to be "pretty stupid" and lamenting that the bully Buddy Revell, "the most interesting character", was underdeveloped. [4]

In a retrospective review from 2016, critic Rob Hunter called the film "a wildly inventive and energetic look at the failures and successes of a typical high school day, and it shapes the daydreams and anxieties into an exaggerated delight." [5]

The dark tone of the film contrasted with other teen films of the time—so much so that executive producer Steven Spielberg removed his name from the credits. [6] In 2017, Adrian Halen wrote that Three O'Clock High was released in "an era when The Breakfast Club , Pretty in Pink , Ferris Bueller's Day Off , National Lampoon’s Vacation and Weird Science were the general norm for moviegoers." [7]

See also

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  1. Three O'Clock High (1987) - Box office / business
  2. Berling, Michael (29 September 2016). "Three O'Clock High". Voices in the Net.
  3. "Three O'Clock High". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2022-07-14.
  4. Ebert, Roger (1987). "Three O'Clock High," 09 October 1987, retrieved 18 July 2020
  5. "Three O'Clock High Blends Anxiety and Daydream with Perfection". Film School Rejects. 2016-11-03. Retrieved 2019-12-03.
  6. "Why Three O'Clock High is a much better movie than you remember". The HotCorn. 2018-11-05. Retrieved 2019-12-03.
  7. "Film Review: Three O'Clock High (1987)". HNN | 2017-09-28. Retrieved 2019-12-03.