“It’s a school for solid platinum rats. It’s a rich kids’ penitentiary!”
An estranged father (Mickey Rooney) goes to an exclusive military academy on Sabre Island to learn more about his son’s mysterious death.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Amateur Sleuths
- Boarding School
- Dan Duryea Films
- Elisha Cook Jr. Films
- Mickey Rooney Films
- Terry Moore Films
- Yvette Mimieux Films
This surprisingly entertaining B-thriller possesses one of the least suitable titles I’ve come across in a while. Given that it was produced by schlockmeister Alfred Zugsmith, I rented it expecting to see platinum blondes (a la Mamie Doren and Jan Sterling from Zugsmith’s High School Confidential) prouncing around a traditional American high school campus, getting themselves into all sorts of trouble — but I was pleasantly surprised to find that this film deals with a much more serious plot, and that the “high school” in question is actually a military academy for wealthy (“platinum”) hoods who are two steps away from prison, but whose parents (or guardians, or lawyers) can afford to pay to keep them out.
Mickey Rooney turns in an excellent performance in a non-comedic role (proving once again that he was capable of much more than just comedies and musicals), and is surrounded by a very capable cast (including Dan Duryea, Elisha Cook, Jr., Yvette Mimieux, and Terry Moore), all of whom lift the material a notch higher than usual. As entertaining as Platinum High School is, however, I don’t consider it to be “must see” viewing, nor do I necessarily think it’s a “camp classic” as dubbed by Peary in the back of his book. Nonetheless, it remains a slick little thriller, and is certainly required viewing for any fans of Mickey Rooney: you’ll feel genuine concern for his sympathetic character, as he attempts to cut through the dangerous layer of corruption at the Academy, and battles Duryea (playing the nefarious head of the school, Major Kelly) for his life.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Mickey Rooney as a tenaciously truth-seeking father
- Warren Berlinger’s sensitive portrayal as a cadet who witnessed the death of Rooney’s son but is afraid to tell the truth
No, but it’s definitely much better than its title warrants.