In one of his last film roles, Clark Gable plays cynical Manhattan newspaper editor James Gannon, who never graduated high school and not surprisingly, thinks college is a lot of hooey. So, when his boss asks him to give a lecture at a continuing education college, his response is a stinging letter asserting his belief that journalism can’t be taught and college is, just “amateurs teaching amateurs how to be amateurs.” But, his boss puts the pressure on, and eventually, Frank agrees to go.
The teacher is one Erica Stone (Doris Day). Pert, yet slightly standoffish, her class is largely made up of men, most of them older than she is. Given the time and place, the makeup of the class isn’t particularly surprising, but it irks Gannon. He decides to disguise himself as a student, rather than reveal himself as a lecture. Though James likes to regularly challenge her authority in class, Erica quickly recognizes his talent for news writing and urges him to work with her outside of class to polish his skills. James is content to play along until Erica’s secretary (Marion Ross) tells him that Erica is already spoken for.
Dr. Hugo Pine (Gig Young), a smart and handsome psychologist, appears to be a strong rival for Erica’s affections, but Gannon uses his tutoring sessions to try and worm his way into her heart, with little success. While we know that Gable and Day will eventually end up together (it couldn’t end any other way), the husband and wife writing team of Fay and Michael Kanin provided some wonderful comedic lines and director George Seaton directed with an expertness that made potentially ordinary scenes, such as Gable’s reactions to a strip-tease by Mamie Van Doren, stand out.
Clark Gable essentially mugs his way through most of the comedic moments, but it makes for effective low comedy. Day is sweet, fresh, and funny; everything we would come to expect from her after the hit movies Pillow Talk (1959), That Touch of Mink (1961), Send Me No Flowers (1964) and others. On a more serious level, Teacher’s Pet serves as a fairly effective bridge between the time old guard, tough talking, (mostly) male reporters were forced to welcome a new breed: educated, thoughtful, men and women.
Warner Archive Collection has done a fine job with this Paramount title. The image looks extremely sharp in enhanced B&W. It’s a VistaVision film and the added detail shows. The soundtrack is also clean and clear throughout.
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