← Back to Reviews
\
Teacher's Pet



John Gannon is a self-taught newspaper editor. He did go to school, but never graduated. He believes the best way to learn about journalism is by hard experience, and that learning it through college is a waste of time. After writing an angry letter to a school, his managing editor gives him the loathsome task of helping the college professor out. Only he thought he wrote to a man, and is embarrassed when he finds out it's a beautiful woman called Erica Stone. Not wanting to admit he's the one who wrote it, he disguises his identity as the eager student Gallagher. Inititally only wanting to show himself as better than her, he (you guessed it) falls in love with her in the process...

This feels like the romantic comedy Billy Wilder never made. The dialogue is very witty and clever, the humor is well-executed at every turn, and the actors all give the characters their own effeminate charm.
Clark Gable takes on a very interesting role. He still plays the classic sneaky gentleman type, but he's not invulnerable. Quite a few times, we see Gannon make an ass of himself and sometimes get upstaged by his love interest/rival.
Which speaking of, Doris Day is just as fantastic as the teacher who gets on Gannon's nerves, but at the same time that's what he loves about her. She's a strong, confident woman that's like right out of a dream. Their repertoire is excellent, to the point where it almost seems like they've worked as a duo for years, but in fact this is their first and only screen effort together.

The story unfolds in a highly engaging manner. While Erica is definitely very impressed by Gallagher's short, but tenseful story aout a street gang-connected murder, she sees more potential in him and asks him to build on it further. You know... like a thinkpiece. Used to only pumping out stories by the minute, he's quite taken aback, never really having thought about the humanitarian element before, just the cold hard facts. I love when he gets annoyed by another worker at the work station when he just like Erica asks why someone committed a certain crime.

Besides the journalism elements, Gannon also has a romantic rival: the young and hunky psychologist Dr. Hugo Pine. He's the textbook definition of Mr. Perfect; always comes up with eloquently presented analyses, knows the answer to everything (even when it's a baseball game), can speak a lot of different languages, has traveled the whole wide world. You can really see Gannon gritting his teeth at this guy. But then just like that, Hugo drunkenly falls down on the ground like Eddie Willis after one too many drinks. And to Gannon's surprise, Erica thought that moment alone was more entertaining than Hugo having all the right answers. It's a great little moment to advance their relationship.

But when she takes him home to her apartment, his entire world falls apart. He finds out that
WARNING: spoilers below
the Pulitzer Price-winning newspaper writer Jonathan Barlow Stone is actually her father. Feeling ashamed of having tricked her all along, he leaves before she has time to get back with the coffee. At a loss of what to do, he surprisingly goes to Hugo Pine for advice. And unlike the cocky guy we saw earlier, he's now tired, sick and groggy. The scene of them talking is one of my favorites in the movie. You see how Hugo isn't so bad after all, and talks to Gannon almost like a friend.
How Gig Young portrays him getting pained by the littlest loud noise and feeling in pain is also very funny. The way he moves and talks immediately brings Jack Lemmon in The Odd Couple to mind.
WARNING: spoilers below
Gannon's talk about how worthless he is, good at absolutely nothing and probably shouldn't have even gotten into the newspaper business is very depressing. You can feel how all lust for life has drained right out of him. It's a very effective dramatic shift from the previously smiling and cocky seductor we witnessed earlier. After a while Hugo tells him the only way to make himself feel better is by telling Erica the truth. If she hears it from him there's a better chance of forgivance than if she hears it from a second source.

But alas, she does find out, and naturally she's mad at him. When Hugo later tells her how awful Gannon feels about disguising his identity and how lowly he thinks of himself, she starts to feel some empathy... until then he suddenly comes out of Hugo's bedroom criticizing her father's poor articles, how he never could come up with memorable stories.
Surprisingly (although she's defensive at first), this doesn't lead to a bigger conflict, but instead she starts to adopt some of his ideas just like he adopted hers. I thought this it a smart and unpredictable route to take their relationship. This also leads to him firing his copy boy Barney Kovac. Not because he thinks he does a bad job (on the contrary), but more along the line with ”Why be satisfied with this when you can study and do so much better later in life?”. He's showing a bit of tough love, reaching the final bit of realization that he misjudged the value of teaching.


Teacher's Pet is both a warm and boisterously merry piece of 50's fluff.