by Jeric Llanes
Listen up everyone, class is now in session! Teacher’s Pet (1958) stars Clark Gable as James Gannon, hot-shot editor of the city newspaper who made a name for himself by working from the ground up. He fought his way to the top without a lick of formal education, and he sure is proud of it. So proud that he scoffs at the idea of guest lecturing a night-time journalism class for the local University. But when he discovers that the class is taught by the lovely Erica Stone (played by Doris Day), Gannon hopes to impress her and eventually take her out on a date. The only problem is that this stubborn editor left a sour taste in the Ms. Stone’s mouth by condescendingly rejecting her humble request, and now Gannon must win her over by going under disguise…as a student!
I thought this was a very witty romantic comedy carried by the charismatic performances of the romantic leads of the film. Gannon is amusingly brash and arrogant, but Gable is able to add a bit of charm to the character by balancing him with some vulnerability.
As confident as Gannon’s character may seem, it’s clear that his strong resistance against the educational system stems from an insecurity of his own intelligence. And it surely makes the romance difficult when his love interest represents everything he is fighting against. As good as Gable is throughout the film, I was equally amused with Doris Day’s performance as Erica Stone. Clearly the more reserved between her and Gannon, Stone still has her comedic moments from time to time (especially in moments when she decides to tease her would-be lover about his taste in women). But she’s also a talented journalist in her own right, choosing to share her knowledge by teaching theory, instead of offering hands-on experience the way Gannon does in the newsroom. This clash of two worlds makes for a dynamic riddled with humorous conflict, aided by the irony that Stone does not know who Gannon truly is as they get romantically closer.
The pacing of this film was managed nicely. It seemed that every time Gannon managed to overcome one obstacle, another problem rose to top the other. Adding the Dr. Pine character (Gig Young) as a potential rival for Gannon halfway through the film was a simple, but effective way of making the lovers’ journey more intriguing. An educated psychologist who is both younger and more knowledgeable in many aspects than the older journalist, Dr. Pine offers up a legitimate threat to Gannon’s chances with Stone. The sequence where the two men try to outshine the other in front of Stone was my favorite in the entire film. It not only made me laugh, but it also added some depth to Gannon’s character by showing off more of his insecurity. Pine was perfect in his role as Gannon’s foil, but at times I felt that his tendency to psychoanalyze the other characters was too obvious. I thought that his scenes toward the end of the film over-explained both Gannon and Stone’s ideals and feelings, instead of allowing for the characters to reveal themselves through their own actions and dialogue.
But the film doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s all about the charm and romance, and there’s plenty of that to go around! If you’re wanting to get into classic cinema and are looking for a light-hearted movie to get you started, then this film is right up your alley. The story is simple and easy to follow, and the fantastic acting performances are enough to wow romantic comedy fans and classic film enthusiasts alike!
Where to Watch this Film:Teacher’s Pet (1958) is currently available to stream on Netflix and can be rented/purchased on Youtube, Amazon Video, VUDU, Google Play, and iTunes.