Martha Scott stars in CHEERS FOR MISS BISHOP (1941), now available on DVD and Blu-ray from Olive Films.
CHEERS FOR MISS BISHOP was Scott's third film, following OUR TOWN (1940), in which she recreated her stage role opposite William Holden, and THE HOWARDS OF VIRGINIA (1940), opposite Cary Grant.
Miss Ella Bishop is a dedicated instructor of freshman English at Midwestern College. While Ella enjoys a rewarding career, she has poor taste in men; her first love, Del Thompson (Donald Douglas), runs off with her cousin Amy (Mary Anderson), and her second love, John Stevens (Sidney Blackmer), is married.
Meanwhile she never seems to notice that storekeeper Sam Peters (William Gargan) is there for her at every turn; she thinks of him as a dear friend but doesn't reciprocate his love.
When Del abandons the pregnant Amy, who dies in childbirth, Ella raises her daughter Hope (Marsha Hunt). Eventually Hope and later Hope's daughter Gretchen (Lois Ranson) attend Midwestern College, where Ella's career continues for decades.
CHEERS FOR MISS BISHOP is more melodrama than Americana, focusing as much as it does on Ella's love life. I found it quite watchable, although Ella's obtuse romantic decisions were annoying, as Sam is such a lovely fellow.
The movie's other flaw is that not much happens in the last half hour. Time marches on, but not much happens, other than some sentimental tugs at the heart.
That said, it's a movie worth taking a look at, and it's a particular treat to see a number of interesting actresses in the film in addition to the leading lady. Mary Anderson makes an impression as Scott's selfish cousin. Rosemary DeCamp, who was always excellent with accents, uses one here in her film debut as a student with a photographic memory. And it's always wonderful having the chance to see Marsha Hunt! Her character is lovely, warm, and likeable, just as the actress herself is off the screen.
The cast also includes Edmund Gwenn, John Archer (billed as Ralph Bowman), Dorothy Peterson, Sterling Holloway, Rand Brooks, Charles Smith, Pierre Watkin, and John Hamilton.
CHEERS FOR MISS BISHOP was directed by Tay Garnett. It was filmed in black and white by Hal Mohr. Stephen Vincent Benet adapted a novel by Bess Streeter Aldrich for the screenplay by Adelaide Heilbron and Sheridan Gibney. The running time is 91 minutes.
The Olive Films DVD is a fine print. There are no extras other than subtitles.
Thanks to Olive Films for providing a review copy of this DVD.