B Movie Challenge – High School Caesar

If there is one thing the youth of America can’t do is be chill. You dig, daddy-o? Just like the great Pink Floyd pointed out “We don’t need your education! We don’t need no thought control! Hey, teacher, leave them kids alone!” (I still eat my pudding before my meat). In the 1950s a group all of sudden came to be in our culture based on war-time profits and easy suburban living, and this, was, of course, the teenager. For the first time, this little bastion of spiteful hooligans had “no particular place to go” as Chuck Berry pointed out, and the need to chill needed to be filled. Drive-ins, burger stands, and drag races seemed to be the right calling.  As an adult I can leave you alone to satisfy a little “juvenile delinquency’, but I will have to stand by the teachers union when another brick in the wall actually starts throwing bricks (duck)  just like our little reform school hoodlum entrepreneur in the 1950s rebel-with-a-cause-to-make-profits High School Caesar.

He ain’t no Don Corleone (I’m gonna give him an algebra test he can’t refuse) but the one thing about our little Don Noxema babyface is he’s a go-getter. Getting a student to do their homework or not fall asleep in class (maybe we should bring back the drill-holed board of education) is a miracle, but this kiddo? He isn’t writing a book report, he’s selling it! Matt Stevens (played wonderfully by American International Pictures go-to teen throb John Ashley) certainly collects his stolen milk money and can’t be blamed for reaching beyond the gymnasium for a future. It seems a little insulting to modern-day teenagers (heck, it was insulting back then) but the “Teeny bopper rebel” films of the 50s lensed an image that there were two kinds of teenagers: those who believed lucky coins would bring good luck, and those who flipped the coins in the air (and you just don’t care) like they were Edward G. Robinson Jr. High School Casar does well enough to stand out above the other ‘James Dean’ wannabees for Ashley’s performance and a storyline which doesn’t waste time guessing what tore this kid apart. Society did, my main man, and if he does a little study hall underground business, then maybe we should just let kids be kids… unless they yank the keys to the classroom, steal the answer sheets, and sell them in the boy’s bathroom at three dollars a page!

Mr. Stevens is a high-end middle class with lots of time and dimes. With his parents hardly around, and being raised by a nanny and butler (how they afford them in a two-bedroom rancher is beyond me), our seventeen mafioso needs more in life. Yeah, he could read Bill Shakespeare or figure out trigonometry, but he doesn’t know much about history, biology, or the French he took, but he does know a good hustle. He is a king of the school, even winning class president, but Mr. Stevens has gathered himself a little criminal enterprise the assistant principal can’t hold in detention. The only problem is Matt gets a little too sure of himself and kills a fellow classmate in a drag race. He tries his best to hide this from the fellow poodle skirt thieves, but penny for my thoughts (or three cents for inflation), don’t flash the coin you took from a dead guy if you don’t want to get caught!

Burning rubber your way at seventy-five minutes, and directed with ill-contempt for youth culture by O’Dale Ireland (who previously directed the teen drama Datebait), Ireland is kind of a mystery, going on to only edit the Al Admenson grindhouse classic Pyscho-A-Go-Go. Like most students who forgot to do their homework, the producers let the film fall into the public domain, so you can find this high school hellcat on streamers like Tubi and YouTube, as well as on a lot of ‘Juvenile Deliquent’ bottom barrel DVD collections. So zip up your cracking leather jacket, drench your microwaved french fries in dollar store catsup (cheap bastard), and get lost in a teenage wasteland as you render to remedial Caesar the things that are remedial Caesar’s!

About Ian Klink

As a filmmaker, writer, and artist, Ian Klink’s work includes the feature film Anybody’s Blues and short stories for Weren't Another Way to Be: Outlaw Fiction Inspired by Waylon Jennings, Negative Creep: A Nirvana-Inspired Anthology, A-Z of Horror: U is for Unexplained, The Creeps, Vampiress Carmilla, The Siren’s Call, and Chilling Tales For Dark Nights. Born and raised in Iowa, Klink lives with his family in Pennsylvania where he shares his talents as a teacher of multimedia studies.

View all posts by Ian Klink

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