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 have the house to themselves while their parents are on vacation. The students this morning are gossiping about the new student Buddy Revell, a violent psychopathic delinquent who has just transferred to Weaver from a continuation high school.

Jerry's first hour is spent at the school newspaper, where his best friend, Vincent Costello, is the editor. Their journalism teacher has the idea of doing an article about Buddy to welcome the "new kid", and she assigns Jerry to do an interview. Jerry sees Buddy in the restroom and clumsily attempts to introduce himself but realizes he is only making Buddy angry. He tells Buddy to disregard the interview request, and gives Buddy a friendly tap on the arm. Buddy, who does not like to be touched, responds by tossing Jerry against a wall and states the pair will fight outside the school at 3:00 P.M. Buddy also tells Jerry that running away or reporting the incident to a teacher will only make the situation worse.

With little more than six hours to go, Jerry tries different strategies to avoid the fight. Trying to reason with Buddy doesn't work. Vincent suggests that he plant a switchblade in Buddy's locker to get him kicked out of school; Brei advises him to simply skip school, but when Jerry tries to leave, he finds the switchblade he planted now stuck in the steering wheel of his Mom’s car, and the ignition wires cut. Trying to run, Jerry is caught by overzealous school security guard, Duke, who finds the switchblade and takes Jerry to the office of Mr. Dolinski, the Dean of Discipline. Doliniski warns Jerry he is under suspicion.

Jerry makes several other attempts to avoid the fight. All attempts fail, and the clock continues to tick down. Ultimately Buddy accepts cash Jerry stole from the school store in exchange for calling off the fight, but declares Jerry is a coward and that he didn’t even try. Now seized with self-loathing and anger, Jerry decides to confront Buddy, and demands the money back. When Buddy refuses, Jerry insists that he is no coward and declares that their fight is back on.

The clock finally reaches the appointed hour, and the fight begins with hundreds of eager students awaiting the fight outside the school. When Mr. O’Rouke proceeds to break up the fight and take Buddy to the office, Buddy knocks O’Rouke out and engages with Jerry. 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. When Buddy proceeds to use his brass knuckles to knock out Jerry, Vincent intervenes to hold off Buddy for Jerry, and Brei picks up the dropped brass knuckles and slips them to Jerry. Jerry uses the brass knuckles in a desperate move to stun and knock-out Buddy. During the excitement and appearance of the police that follows, Buddy vanishes while Jerry is allowed to be let go for the day.

The next day, many students show their admiration and support to Jerry for such a great fight. They begin buying individual sheets of paper for $1 from the school store to help Jerry make up the store's missing cash. Buddy suddenly shows up, silencing the crowd. He openly returns the cash to Jerry, begrudgingly showing his respect. Weaver High is now filled with new gossip, as Jerry, who is now dating his crush Karen, replaces Buddy as the school's hot discussion topic, with rumors having a wide and humorous range from the actual 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.