I was wondering if you could help me find this movie I remember watching on TV when I was in the 1990s on UPN.
Here’s what I remember. It was a movie about a collection of teenagers in some small town, I think somewhere in the southwest. They were Greasers(?), a style showcased in the image above (though this pic is not from the movie, just an example from the internet) which makes me think it was set in the 1950s. The film was in color though so it was definitely a period piece.
The movie I recall starts with close up shots of some guy’s morning makeup routine, combing his hair, zipping his jacket, carefully penciling on a mole on his face. This guy is not the protagonist of the film, but rather the cool guy all the other teenage males in the town look up to as the greatest hippest person on earth. The actual protagonist is a sort of happy second fiddle to Mr. Cool in the story if I remember correctly. He is our narrator, and we hear his inner monologue. During the course of the movie you see Mr Cool getting lots of girls, looking cool, and generally keeping up his reputation. Mr. Second-fiddle isn’t doing to bad either.
Then things go wrong. Mr. Big shot naturally has a pretty girlfriend, but shes gets pretty angry with him and their relationship gets pretty volatile. He kills her. This is where things get interesting because Mr. Second fiddle learns about this and…shock…has a conscience. He eventually turns in Mr. Cool to the police. Now the middle part of the story didn’t make a big impression on me as you can probably tell (for a lot of it I was just watching for the pretty girls, not because I was super impressed with the type of guys who were lording over me and my fellow nerds daily in real life albiet with different hairstyles… there was little novelty there), but the scenes I really remember are at the end. In one final scene you see Mr. Cool smiling nervously, his mole smeared, the lifts in his shoes gone… looking smaller, scared, pathetic. Mr. Second fiddle though is devastated. Ostracized by the other teenagers for having brought their idol low (his being a murderer apparently failed to diminish him in their eyes) Mr. Second fiddle is seen sitting alone hold his head in his hands at a drive in movie or parking lot or something. A group of his former friends speed by hanging out of a car and hurl beer cans at him calling him a ‘rat’ or ‘fink’ or some other old-timey insult. The movie ends with our narrator’s inner monologue saying something along the lines of “Sometimes, its just the right thing to do you know? You just know it.” Or something along those lines. I can’t remember. But it sounds like he’s trying to convince himself. He’s clearly torn up with guilt.
I keep thinking the name of the film was “The Phony” or “The Fink” or some derogatory term from the 50s. Or it may be the exact opposite, some slang for “A really cool guy” again along the lines of The ____. The title was an obvious reference to the images the Mr. Cool or maybe Mr. Second-fiddle presented to the world vs the frightened, vulnerable, even contemptible people they were inside. I just cant remember which one the title used to draw attention to this.
This was actually a movie whose ending I found pretty interesting, and I’d love to watch it again because I remember very little of it, and I’m sure some of what I remember, and probably some of what I’ve written here, is garbled. I’ve thought about the film now and then a few times over the years and hoping to track it down, but have never succeeded.