Thursday, January 07, 2010
3:15: THE MOMENT OF TRUTH is one of the better, and most obscure, high school urban warfare films of the 1980’s. I never saw it playing in the theatres, or even on cable, during the 80’s. Only in the 1990’s did I find it on VHS and it became something of a genre favorite.
Adam Baldwin stars. This was released six years after MY BODYGUARD, where he played the title character.
In 3:15, Baldwin plays Jeff, a high school student. As the film opens, he is part of a leather jacketed gang of street toughs known as the Cobras. They appear like they are out of some 50’s movie, with switch blades and such, but this is the mid 80’s.
During a gang fight, the rest of the Cobras get a bit too rough, eventually stabbing someone, so Baldwin has had enough. He leaves the gang.
Cut to a year later. Baldwin has no cleaned up his act. He is on the basketball team. He has a beautiful girlfriend (“What Ever Happened To” star Deborah Foreman). He stays away from his former friends the Cobras, who are the school drug dealers. They take the orders before school, and deliver the drugs to the students’ lockers during third period. I guess they are trustworthy if the students agree to this deal.
The principal (Rene Auberjonois nearing the end of his run as Clayton Endicott on BENSON) wants to stop the drugs in his school. With the help a detective (Ed Lauter, and if his name doesn’t sound familiar, you would definitely recognize him), they organize a raid of the school.
During the raid, gang member Cinco (Danny De La Paz) tries to get Baldwin to hold the drugs in his locker. When he refuses, the cops catch Cinco. Cinco vows revenge as he is taken away.
Due to the laws, Cinco is only being held for 36 hours. After that, he is on his way to get Baldwin and his girlfriend. The principal isn’t worried. Since Baldwin won’t narc on his friends, the principal is hoping that Cinco kills Baldwin and they can get him on a murder charge. The big showdown is set for 3:15.
The film is basically an updating of HIGH NOON. It is a fairly gritty look at high school life. Very reminiscent of MY BODYGUARD, where the bathrooms were the big battlegrounds. Unfortunately the big showdown here isn’t quite up to the “You broke my nose” finale of the earlier film.
Adam Baldwin is the big surprise here. Always a reliable performer (and he today appears on CHUCK) he was very good here. Deborah Foreman shows that she had one of the greatest smiles of the 1980’s. How can you not love her?
There are a couple small roles here of note. The leader of the African American gang is Mario Van Peebles. While the role of Foreman’s mother is played by the little known Nancy Locke Hauser, her father is played in an uncredited role by Nancy’s then real life husband Wings Hauser.
But the biggest star, as on of the Cobrettes, the female wing of the Cobras, who only speaks in one scene is Gina Gershon. She is in many scenes. Her role is to simply stand around looking tough and beautiful, which she does very well.
This was, to date, the only directorial effort for Larry Gross. At the time, he had just written 48 HOURS and STREETS OF FIRE for Walter Hill. The film is very reminiscent of Hill’s THE WARRIORS. He has since done a lot of TV work (MIDNIGHT CALLER, MACGYVER) as well as writing Clint Eastwood’s TRUE CRIME. The film was written by Sam Bernard (RAD) and Michael Jacobs (HALLOWEEN 5).
Whether it was released to theatres, I don’t know. It hasn't been released on DVD. It was released on VHS by Media Home Entertainment. Today, the rights are with MGM.
I hadn’t seen it on TV, well ever, but it recently showed up on MGM’s THIS Network. It looks like a TV print had never been created as it was aired in a strangely edited fashion. For the R rated film, every time there was inappropriate for TV language in the film, the audio was dropped. No overdubbing, just no audio. The violence didn’t seem to be edited.
3:15 is a solid film. Not a great one, but certainly watchable with a very good cast. It is worth looking for. Used VHS copies are available.