BTC: Beat Poetess Phillipa Fallon

Haven’t seen High School Confidential yet? It’s high time you did. (Double-decker pun intended, natch!) Directed by Jack Arnold, it’s a campy, unexpectedly sharp teensploitation romp that peaks with this adrenalizing scene:

The finger-snapping nihilist’s name was Phillipa Fallon, and that was her all-too-brief moment to shine.

Via the ever-entertaining CONELRAD webzine:

Approximately mid-way through the Albert Zugsmith exploitation film masterpiece High School Confidential (1958), an attractive, quasi-bohemian woman strides on stage at a coffee house and belts out a beat poem that provides a delightfully nihilistic snapshot of the Cold War—including references to the space race and atomic evacuation. The fact that she happens to be accompanied by Jackie Coogan (who plays a heroin kingpin in the film) on piano is, like, pure existential gravy. Predictably, the teens in the audience appear to be digging Coogan’s incongruous ragtime key work and disregarding the depressing content of the lyrics.

B-movie actor and writer Mel Welles (1924-2005) was the person most responsible for the hep jargon —including “High School Drag”— in Confidential. He was recruited by producer Zugsmith for help in this regard because, as Welles recalled for interviewer Tom Weaver in 1988, “I was an expert on grass in my day…”

Up until very recently, precious little was known about the sneering sex bomb “who so memorably portrays the hipsteress delivering Welles’ boptastic words.” But just last month, after years of sleuthing and compiling, CONELRAD began to parse out Fallon’s story on a separate site devoted to her life and times. Installments are still going up.

“High School Drag”
(Written by Mel Welles / Performed by Phillipa Fallon)

My old man was a bread-stasher all his life.
He never got fat. He wound up with a used car,
a 17 inch screen and arthritis.

Tomorrow is a drag, man.
Tomorrow is a king sized bust. *snap*

They cried ‘put down pot,’ ‘don’t think a lot,’ for what?
Time, how much? And what to do with it.

Sleep, man, and you might wake up digging the whole
human race giving itself three days to get out.

Tomorrow is a drag, pops, the future is a flake. *snap*

I had a canary who couldn’t sing.
I had a cat who let me share my pad with her.
I bought a dog that killed the cat that ate the canary.
What is truth? *snap*

I had an uncle with an ivy league card.
He had life with a belt in the back.
He had a button-down brain.
Wind up a belt in the mouth and a button-down lip. *snap*

We cough blood on this earth.
Now there’s a race for space.
We can cough blood on the moon soon.

Tomorrow is dragsville, cats.
Tomorrow is a king size drag. *snap*

Tool a fast shore, swing with a gassy chick.
Turn on to a thousand joys.
Smile on what happened, or check what’s gonna happen,
You’ll miss what’s happening.
Turn your eyes inside and dig the vacuum.

Tomorrow, DRRRRAAAAAG. *snap*

yearbook photo of Ferne Mark aka Phillipa Fallon

Via What Gets Me Hot.

4 Responses to “BTC: Beat Poetess Phillipa Fallon”

  1. Gabe Says:

    That movie is such wonderful cheese. And Uncle Fester lynched somebody?

  2. seedymckenzie Says:

    Tomorra is a drag. The future is a flake.

    So relevant.

    I’m astonished. Thanks Coilhouse

    (I do wonder what swinging with a gassy chick would entail?)

  3. Nadya Says:

    Starring Russ Tamblyn!

    So this is where Jacoby went to high school…

  4. Nash Says:

    And I thought I was the senslibe one. Thanks for setting me straight.