Film: Three O'Clock High

"No matter what you say or what you do, you and me are gonna fight when that bell rings at 3 o'clock."

Three O'Clock High is a high school comedy from The Eighties. A riff on classic westerns like High Noon, the film centers on the geeky Jerry, who inadvertantly angers the new bully at school, Buddy Revell, and gets challenged to a fight at the end of class. Jerry has until 3 pm to get out of the fight, or face certain destruction.

This film provides examples of:

  • Arc Words: “It looks like it’s gonna be one of those days.” These were Jerry’s first words and last words in the movie.
  • The Bully: Buddy Revell is a passive example of this - he doesn't bother anybody, unless they press his Berserk Button
  • Berserk Button Buddy really Hates Being Touched.
  • Book Ends: At the beginning of the movie we are informed about Buddy by a montage of random students gossiping about the New Kid with highly improbable anecdotes. At the end, we have a nearly identical montage of the same students gossiping about Jerry with anecdotes we know are exaggerated.
  • Bully Hunter: Subverted. Local jock Craig Mattey is famous for beating up on a bully, but only because the bully's victim paid him. Jerry buys his services, but doesn't get his money's worth.
  • Can't Get In Trouble For Nuthin': One of Jerry's attempts to avert the fight, on the recommendation of his sister is to get himself suspended for the day. He tries to do this in his English Lit class by volunteering to recite a book report for the whole class, and then generally being boorish, lighting a cigarette, making a pass at the teacher and even dropping ashes into her coffee. This backfires when she becomes romantically aroused by this assertive behavior. at the end of the film she gives him her phone number.
  • Chick Magnet: By the end of the film, Jerry's best friend, his English teacher, and the head cheerleader of his highschool are all smitten and horny for him.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The fight between Buddy and Craig consists of Buddy breaking Craig’s finger and punching him so hard that he knocks over all bookshelves in the library.
  • Dawson Casting: The actors playing Buddy and Jerry were both 25 at the time of filming. They look it.
  • Dean Bitterman: Played straight with Dolinski but subverted with Principle O’Rourke, who lets Buddy off after he proves he didn’t (need to) cheat and later convinces the detective not to arrest Jerry, even though it was pretty apparent that he robbed the store.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Buddy returns Jerry's money in the end and even gives him the faintest of smiles, suggesting that Jerry has at least earned his respect for standing up for himself.
  • Dumb Jock/Dumb Muscle: Buddy (a former football player) subverts this trope, upending both Jerry and O’Rourke’s expectation that he was too dumb to answer the math quiz questions correctly.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Initially subverted, but eventually played somewhat straight. Nemeses Jerry and Buddy get caught cheating on a math test. After the ordeal, Jerry tries to invoke the trope, saying that they've been through a lot together and should be friends. Buddy insists that nothing will prevent Jerry's inevitable pummeling. However, after the fight, Buddy shows up to return Jerry's money and gives him the very faintest of smiles, indicating that Jerry has at least earned his respect.
  • Genius Bruiser: Hinted at with Buddy. When Craig goes looking for him, he finds Buddy quietly reading in the library. Later, Buddy tries to cheat on Jerry's math test, but then reveals that he could have easily solved the problems himself. Buddy seems to prefer being a feared bully over being recognized as intelligent.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Jerry’s book report is clearly based on a pornographic movie, laced with several double entendres.
  • Groin Attack: Buddy knees Vince in the groin when Vince intervenes in the fight.
  • Hates Being Touched: Buddy. He wants to fight Jerry because he had the audacity to put a hand on his shoulder. When Craig threatens Buddy, it's the fact that Craig pokes him in the chest that causes Buddy to flip out.
  • Hidden Depths: Hinted at with Buddy due to the way he seems to hide his intelligence.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Buddy gets knocked out by his own brass knuckles.
  • Hot Teacher/Hot for Student: To avoid the fight, Jerry puts the moves on his English lit teacher (who is dressed like a Hot Librarian) and gives her a kiss in the hopes of getting ejected from class. He immediately loses his nerve and passes out afterwards, only to wake up in the school nurse's office... with the teacher's phone number.
  • Ironic Echo: Both Book End Gossip Evolution scenes have someone calling the person being talked about (Buddy and Jerry, respectively) "a psycho".
  • Ironic Nickname: Buddy is a real jerk.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Buddy apparently goes unpunished for knocking out the principal and destroying the library.
    • A rare hero example: It is strongly suggested that Jerry will not be punished for robbing the school store, particularly after Buddy returns the money.
  • Mr. Exposition: The entire high school collectively performs this role during the first scene, as they trade rumors about the new transfer student, Buddy Revell.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight: In spite of being twice Jerry's size, as well as a Bad Ass, Buddy sees it necessary to bring brass knuckles to the showdown. During the brawl, Jerry gets possession of them and uses them to knock Buddy out.
  • Nobody Calls Me Chicken: Jerry finally agrees to fight Buddy after Buddy calls him a “pussy.”
  • Official Kiss: Subverted following Jerry and Franny’s kiss. Rather than going through with “bonding” with Jerry, Franny decides there must be some other way to help him. The ending is ambiguous about what happens to their relationship from there.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Buddy disappears after the fight, and even the surrounding crowd doesn't seem to realize he left. Downplayed, though, as no one seems worried about where he is or whether he’ll return.
  • Power Creep, Power Seep: This happens to Buddy within universe. Buddy is able to knock out Craig and the Dukester with one punch, but has a four-minute fight with the much smaller Jerry, in which Buddy ultimately resorts to (unsuccessfully) using brass knuckles.
  • Reckless Sidekick: Vince is largely responsible for everything that happens to Jerry. When Jerry finally calls him out on this, Vince denies it and walks away, but clearly feels guilty.
  • Showdown at High Noon: Jerry and Buddy have a duel scheduled for 3:00. The name of the film is a riff on "high noon" and "high school," as well as a Shout-Out to Twelve O Clock High.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Jerry invokes this trope in his attempt to get detention. His plan backfires.
  • The So-Called Coward: Jerry is a wimp, and spends most of the film trying to avoid fighting. Ultimately he has the opportunity to dodge the fight, but changes his mind and stands up for himself. He actually wins the fight and gains a newfound reputation as a Bad Ass.
  • The Worf Effect: Craig and the school security guard seem to exist in part to show how tough Buddy really is.
  • Yandere: His best friend Franny who Can't Spit It Out but still has an intense desire to "bond" which got positively creepy at one point.