Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Her Twelve Men (1954) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Greer Garson plays a devoted teacher in HER TWELVE MEN (1954), released last month on DVD by the Warner Archive.

Garson plays Jan Stewart, a widow who takes a job at the Oaks, an all-boys boarding school. She's the lone female teacher at the school, and though her colleagues and students alike are initially skeptical, her warmth and dedication quickly win everyone over. Soon her living quarters are filled to the brim each evening with students who come down from their dorm room to study, play games, and enjoy the homey environment she provides.

A number of the boys have disinterested parents, with rebellious Richard Oliver (Tim Considine) being one of the toughest cases of neglect. Miss Stewart soon has Richard's widowed father (Barry Sullivan) paying more attention to him...and she is flustered when Mr. Oliver starts paying attention to her, as well.

The senior Oliver's interest in Miss Stewart doesn't sit well with Joe Hargrave (Robert Ryan), a fellow teacher who seems to be quietly harboring feelings for her himself.

HER TWELVE MEN isn't anything particularly special, but it isn't bad, either. It's simply pleasant family entertainment, made watchable by appealing lead actors and a fairly interesting setting.

It's fun to note this wasn't Garson's first film about a boys' school, as she made her feature film debut in GOODBYE, MR. CHIPS (1939).

I didn't always find Garson's character admirable; her writing letters to a lonely boy, pretending to be his mother, seems doomed to eventual disaster as at some point down the road he will probably come to learn his mother didn't write them. That said, at least she did it from a caring heart. For the most part, Garson is as warm and appealing as always, and it's easy to see why the boys cling to her not just as a teacher but as a surrogate parent.

A scene where a mother (Frances Bergen) shows up with her forbidding-looking new husband (Ivan Triesault) is nicely played, as the husband bonds with his new stepson (David Stollery) over a piano and proves not to be so scary after all.

Barbara Lawrence is wasted as Joe's impatient date; I'm not sure she had a scene where she wasn't sitting in a convertible! James Arness is perfect as a P.E. coach, Ian Wolfe is yet another teacher, and Richard Haydn is the snooty head of the school.

It's also worth noting that this film features young Considine and Stollery before they starred as SPIN AND MARTY for Disney the following year; Considine is said to have suggested Stollery to Disney after they worked together on this film.

The movie was directed by Robert Z. Leonard and shot by Joseph Ruttenberg in widescreen Anscocolor. William Roberts and novelist Laura Z. Hobson wrote the screenplay, based on a story by Louise Baker. John Houseman produced. The running time is 91 minutes.

The color is slightly faded but I believe that's more a trait of Anscocolor than the DVD print itself. The disc includes the trailer.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


Blogger barrylane said...

The film is okay. Garson appealing. No, downright sexy, and Barry Sullivan stealing the leading man's thunder.

2:44 PM  
Blogger Vienna said...

Good to hear it is out on dvd. Always liked this film though I agree it is just pleasant entertainment. Greer coming to the end of her leading lady period. Robert Ryan seemed to an unusual choice for her costar.

12:00 AM  

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