John Lee Farris
Class of 1955
Farris' 1959 novel, Harrison High (a fictional account of Central which spawned five sequels) sold over one million copies. In 1960, Harrison High was adapted into the film, Because They're Young starring Dick Clark. Co-stars included Tuesday Weld, Warren Berlinger, Roberta Shore, Doug McClure, and Victoria Shaw. Paul Wendkos was the director.
Singers Duane Eddy and James Darren had cameo roles in the movie. The title song to the movie proved to be the biggest hit record of Eddy's career. Bobby Rydell's "Swingin' School" also featured prominently in the movie's soundtrack.
After graduating from Central Farris attended Southwestern College at Memphis (now Rhodes College). While completing the University of Missouri Graduate English Program, he finished, Warren and McClaren 19 (his sixth novel).
Farris' 1976 thriller/horror novel, The Fury was also adapted for the screen. Produced by Brian de Palma this 1978 feature film starred Kirk Douglas and Amy Irving. Co-stars included John Cassavetes, Carrie Snodgress, Charles Durning and Andrew Stevens.
In 1972 Farris directed the film Dear Dead Delilah. In the 1990s he appeared in the films The Public Eye and City of Hope.
Apart from his vast body of fiction and his work on motion picture screenplays Farris is probably best known for his work in the Southern Gothic genre. A subgenre of Gothic fiction the stories take place in the American South. The characters are flawed, disturbing or disorienting. Settings are decayed or derelict. Events are sinister or grotesque and related to or result from poverty, alienation, racism, crime, and violence. Unlike it's parent genre which uses such devices solely for the sake of suspense, Southern Gothic uses them to explore social issues and reveal the cultural character and values of the American South.
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