Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tonight's Movie: Teacher's Pet (1958)

It had been so long since I last saw TEACHER'S PET (1958) that all I remembered from my previous viewing was newspaper editor Clark Gable showing up in college instructor Doris Day's classroom. I'd also forgotten just what a good movie it was, well-written and very well played. It provided a fine evening's entertainment.

The storyline throws Day and Gable together to battle over the importance of experience vs. education when working in the newspaper business. Dislike for the other's point of view wars with growing attraction...meanwhile there's a seemingly perfect professor (Oscar-nominated Gig Young) who may provide Gable with competition for the lovely Day.

The Oscar-nominated screenplay by Fay and Michael Kanin is bright and witty, presenting characters who are realistically flawed yet sympathetic. While a couple of the "woman in the workplace" moments are dated, the movie remains surprisingly relevant, as newspapers are struggling to compete with the immediacy of television and radio. (Are longer "think pieces" an answer?) They couldn't know in 1958 that newspapers would continue to do well for a few more decades but that something called the Internet would prove to be an even bigger problem for print media than TV.

Day could do comedy like nothing else, and the scene where she suddenly staggers with stunned shock a few seconds after having been kissed by Gable delighted me so much that I rewound it and watched it again! Perfectly played. I also loved her attempts at nonchalant poses after she notices Gable is in the nightclub when she's out on a date with Young. Gable, of course, was no slouch in the comedy department either. They're a great team.

I've read some criticisms over the years that Gable was too old for Day -- my husband reminded me of hearing USC Professor Drew Casper, a huge Day fan, say that John Wayne would have been fantastic casting as the editor -- but Gable was the King and he works just fine for me.

I liked that the screenplay took the "other man" storyline in an unconventional direction, having the good professor ultimately coaching Gable's character on how to win Day. There are some good moments between Gable and Young. It's nice that the Academy chose to reward a comedic performance with a Supporting Actor nomination.

I was particularly delighted by the appearance of Charles Lane, playing one of Gable's righthand men, who sits with him at a table in the middle of the newsroom, making important-looking newspaper decisions. Lane didn't have a lot of lines but his very appearance throughout the film added tons of atmosphere.

The cast also included Mamie Van Doren, Nick Adams, Marion Ross (HAPPY DAYS), Jack Albertson, and Peter Baldwin.

If there's a nightclub scene in a movie, there must be an appearance by Dress Extra Extraordinaire Bess Flowers, and indeed, there she is in the Bongo Club, at the next table over from Doris Day and Gig Young. Bess turns up next to the famous in so many party and nightclub movie scenes that I joked at Jacqueline's place the other day, "It's almost like she's a stalker!"

TEACHER'S PET was directed by George Seaton, whose credits included MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947) and APARTMENT FOR PEGGY (1948). It was filmed in black and white by Haskell Boggs. The film runs 119 minutes.

TEACHER'S PET is available on a widescreen DVD. The DVD can be rented from ClassicFlix. It also had a VHS release.

TEACHER'S PET can be streamed via Amazon Instant Video. There's no additional charge for Amazon Prime members.

Recommended as well-crafted, enjoyable entertainment. Day and Gable fans will love it.

6 Comments:

OpenID vienna said...

Love your review and mention of Charles Lane - he was perfect as Gable's right hand man on the newspaper.
A perfect example of the great character actors on tap in Classic Hollywood.

12:36 AM  
Blogger Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Enjoyed your review, and reminds me I haven't seen this one in a long time.

So when is Criterion going to come out with a Bess Flowers Collection?

Thanks for the mention.

4:42 AM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

I will have the theme song in my head all day.

6:55 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Love hearing from fellow fans of Charles Lane and Bess Flowers. LOL re the Bess Flowers Criterion Collection. :)

Caftan Woman, you've reminded me I didn't even mention the bouncy title tune sung by Day, which makes the film a cheery delight from the outset.

Best wishes,
Laura

8:18 AM  
Blogger Irene said...

My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw how much Amazon wants for this DVD! Thank goodness the library has it :)

2:05 PM  
Blogger Irene said...

Watched the DVD today. I noticed that Edith Head did the costumes and I was loving the various dresses at the nightclub.

A very enjoyable movie with witty dialogue. I too especially enjoyed the the friendship that developed between Gable and Young.

Doris Day is a delight in everything she does.

11:34 PM  

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