Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


HIGH SCHOOL BIG SHOT (1959). Writer/director: Joel Rapp.

"What's love got to do with it?"

Marvin (Tom Pittman), an intense, intelligent high school student, becomes smitten with a pretty gal, Betty (Virginia Aldridge), and completely loses his focus. He doesn't realize that she's only using him and when he understands that she can only fall for a man with money, decides to organize a heist of drug money that is to be collected from the warehouse where he works. In the meantime, his father (Malcolm Atterbury) is depressed over losing his job and his girl. Pittman gives an excellent performance and makes the hero much more sympathetic than he might have been had he been portrayed by some less talented pretty boy. The supporting performances are generally on the money as well. The film is suspenseful and builds to a doubly tragic climax. A bigger tragedy is that the talented Pittman, who may have amounted to something in Hollywood despite starring in a low-budget picture, died at 26 before the film was even released. Stanley Adams and Louis Quinn score as Pittman's colleagues in crime; Atterbury isn't quite as good although he has his moments. Derivative perhaps, but also absorbing and entertaining.
Verdict: Surprisingly worthwhile crime drama. ***.


JB said...

Great to read this. My mentor, Stan Bickman, was the producer on this movie, and he always said he thought Tom Pittman would have been the next James Dean. I used to kid him the only thing they had in common was they both died in car crashes. Thanks for great post.

William said...

And thank you for your comments. Dean and Bickman were both intense although they looked nothing alike.

You have a very interesting blog as well!

Thanks, again. William