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3 O’CLOCK ROCK

     

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Nov. 10, 2017

EDITOR’S NOTE: With the 1987 made-in-Utah flick ‘Three O’Clock High’ getting a Blu-ray upgrade (see review below), how about a fond look back at the film’s local premiere. This Weekend-section cover story, under the headline, ‘Gearing up for premiere of Ogden-filmed flick,’ was published in the Deseret News on Oct. 4, 1987.

There are those who felt our neighbors to the north went a little nuts when “Three O’Clock High” was filmed in Ogden late last year, but that’s nothing compared to the preparation for the film’s first public showing next week.

Everyone and his cousin will apparently be at the film’s premiere Tuesday night in the Plitt Cinedome Theater, an event that will benefit the Ogden School Foundation, and which is co-sponsored by the foundation and the Ogden Standard-Examiner, in cooperation with the Utah Film Development Office. (The Standard-Examiner is the newspaper where yours truly got his journalism start, by the way. Rumor has it that circulation has risen dramatically since my departure.)

Tickets for the benefit are $20 (this is a charity, remember) and include a reception in the Ogden Radisson Suite Hotel from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The film will be shown at 8:30 p.m. in the Cinedome.

     

Phil Joanou on the Ogden High School set of his first film, 'Three O'Clock High.'

Gov. Norman H. Bangerter will offer opening remarks at the reception, and the film’s director Phil Joanou, along with producer David E. Vogel, will be in attendance.

If $20 is too stiff, you might be interested in a second screening the Cinedome Wednesday. That once is $10 a seat and will be followed by a stomp at Ogden High School from 9 to midnight.

Of course, that screening will also be filled mainly with whooping and hollering students. Twenty dollars buys you a quieter viewing of the film (along with Hollywood small talk at the reception.)

If that’s not enough, the Ogden City Mall has a tie-in contest with the top prize going to the person who best answers a question related to the film’s ad line: Where is “The place to be after three”?

What is the top prize, you ask? Would you believe an all-expenses-paid “lavish trip to where the movie ‘Three O’Clock High’ was made”?

That’s Ogden High School, of course.

The winner will be taken to the site in a chauffeur-driven limousine — “a 1959 convertible stretch Volkswagen” — and will be wined and dined (well, dined anyway) in the school cafeteria with the school principal.

     

Richard Tyson and Casey Siemaszko square off in the Ogden High School parking lot in the comedy 'Three O'Clock High.'

How can you pass up a contest like that?

Of course, the next question you’re going to ask is “How’s the movie?”

Sorry, I haven’t seen it yet. But there is some information available on director Joanou that is both interesting and promising.

Young Joanou — he turned 25 while shooting this film — is a protégé of Steven Spielberg, who saw Joanou’s student film at a USC film school screening and called him the next day offering an assignment for his “Amazing Stories” TV series.

Though Spielberg’s anthological “Twilight Zone”-ish series was generally roasted by critics (and was consistently very low in the ratings), Joanou’s “Santa ‘85” episode, a gently comic tale of Santa Claus making his rounds to a doubting world on Christmas Eve, was well received.

But Joanou’s second “Amazing Stories” segment, “The Doll,” fared even better. The story of lonely John Lithgow becoming obsessed by a handmade doll, eventually discovering that it has guided him to his true love, is now considered one of the series’ best segments. And it won Lithgow an Emmy.

So, all things considered, there are high hopes for “Three O’Clock High.” And Universal Pictures must have faith in the film. Perhaps the studio is hoping it will become a “sleeper,” in the manner that another little unknown pre-teen movie did last year, creeping up the box office scales to become one of the big hits of 1986 — “Stand By Me.”

Like that film, “Three O’Clock High” has no recognizable names in the cast and no particularly unusual hook to grab audiences.

Let’s face it, they can’t be relying on the star power of Casey Siemaszko to compete against the other films opening next Friday — Sally Field and Michael Caine in the romantic comedy “Surrender,” Rob Reiner’s long-awaited comic fairy tale “The Princess Bride” and the suspense-thriller “Someone to Watch Over Me,” which is getting strong advance notices. Potential blockbusters all.

Still, you never know.

If “Three O’Clock High” is good enough and does manage to find its audience, it just might hang in there and become a surprise success.

And if that happens, we’ll never be able to live with our friends in Ogden. They’ll probably just keep reminding us that the most famous movie made in Salt Lake City is “Silent Night, Deadly Night.”