Monday, January 12, 2009

The Teacher (Howard Avedis, 1974)

Supremely tawdry, yet slightly awful at the same time, The Teacher is an accidentally brilliant film that knows its limitations. And in doing so, manages to entertain and provoke with an incompetent grace. Taking place smack dab in the middle of the 1970s, the film, written and directed by Howard Avedis (They're Playing with Fire and The Stepmother), is a surprisingly erotic endeavour that elicits hollow pleasure through subtle means. The sexy burden may rest solely on the creamy shoulders of one Angel Tompkins, but when you're as naturally gorgeous as she is, all you really have to do is look in the general of any teenage scallywag, and you'll have them eating out your hand. There are many layers to this wannabe unseemly tale, but the main layer involves the deeply misunderstood Ralph Gordon (a terrific Anthony James, a.k.a. the inn keeper who forgot to arm himself in Unforgiven). A creepy loner in a bright yellow jacket (yeah, that's right, he's so confident in his lurking technique, that he wears the brightest jacket ever to exist), Ralph spends the majority of his free time leering at the shapely Mrs. Diana Marshall, a comely high school teacher, from his warehouse perch, where he keeps a well-stocked red coffin full of stalker-friendly goodies. Everything from Nietzsche books to chewing gum can be found in there. One day while spying on Diane sunbathe on her self-titled boat, Ralph is interrupted by his younger brother, Lou (Rudy Herrera Jr.), and his best friend, Sean (Jay North). A disagreement involving a pair of binoculars causes Lou to take a deadly tumble off Ralph's voyeuristic perch. Screaming bloody murder, the unstable Ralph vows revenge on the innocent Sean. Of course, Sean becoming romantically entangled with the older Diane, the object of Ralph's obsession, isn't going to help his cause in the not-getting murdered by a deranged psychopath department.

However, the chance to experiment sexually with someone who looks like Angel Tompkins doesn't come around often. In other words, despite the risks involved, I think Sean ultimately made the right decision.

I must say, though, it did take the bashful young scamp long enough to make this decision. The alluring Diane, the corrupting centerpiece of The Teacher ("every boy needs a teacher"), seemed to be constantly assailing Sean's crotch area for some much needed loving at every turn, while Sean kept brushing her off with the line, "I got to work on van."

Now, I understand van maintenance was one of the most popular past times for males aged 16 to 26 back in 1974. But to see a healthy 18 year-old repeatedly refuse the vaginal comfort that his 28 year-old teacher was willing to provide, not only frustrated me as a sane viewer, it angered me to my very core as a human being.

Luckily, the kid who used to play Dennis on Dennis the Menace (a television show about a menace named Dennis) eventually came to his senses, and Mrs. Marshall finally got the adolescent cock she so surely deserved.

Yeah, so what if a crackpot in the yellowest jacket known to man wants to straight up kill his scrawny ass, the mildly forbidden climaxes and the tender frolicking are totally worth it. And plus, you know you're lame when your mother is trying pimp you out.

Sean's pimp/mother, by the way, is played by the extremely yummy Marlene Schmidt (Miss Universe 1961). I loved her well-toned ex-East German legs in this film.

Early on, there's a scene where Angel Tompkins exchanges some heated dialogue with a friend of a friend at a pool side luncheon that was so amateurish and stiff, that I refuse to believe that it was the best take out of the lot. Seriously, it has to be one of the most unconvincing bits of acting I have ever witnessed.

Other than that, I thought Angel did a capable job of playing the experienced seductress role. Sure, the material-challenged outfits of the era also helped Angel mask her lack of thespian skills, but you can't deny she owned the scene where Sean admits he spied on her while tanning in the nude (the satisfied smirk she sports was delicious).

Anyway, in a constant state of disrobing, Miss Tompskins bravely saunters and cavorts throughout this sleazy morass with a sexy sense of self-possession. I give The Teacher a passing grade. No wait... Angel Tompkin's overt sexiness prevented The Teacher from earning a failing grade. Ugh. I give The Teacher a shiny red apple. Meh. An A+ in terms of sleaze, The Teacher is nothing like detention, it's recess from start to finish. Okay, I'm done.



  1. I got a big kick out of this movie too...but did you ever notice how they never seemed to take their pants off? They'd be making out with their pants on, then they'd start groning and stuff, then it would all be over.

    It weirded me out. I must say, I am unfamiliar with the technique that allows you to leave a pair of jeans, even without unzipping, fully on, and still be able to complete the act. Sounds rather difficult.

  2. I did notice that Mr. Avedis covered Sean and Diane's lower extremities by placing a large blue umbrella in the frame during a steamy bedroom snuggle. However, the lack of pants being removed is something I definitely failed to notice.

    Maybe they were dry humping.

    Anyway, I'm almost tempted to re-watch these jean scenes you speak of.

  3. Great review! I thought I had watched this out of my Cult Drive-In box set, but apparently I was thinking of one of the other Teacher flicks. I certainly would have remembered a stalker in a bright yellow jacket. I really need to set up the 7-inch black-and-white set in the back of the van and finish watching all those.

    For what it's worth, I figure if Dennis the Menace were ever allowed to grow up, this is exactly the type of shit he would get into once Margaret left for college and there was no one around to keep him on the straight and narrow.

    Cool stuff! And congrats on the TotalFilm blog awards nom!

  4. The titles do sort of sound the same. I mean, The Teacher/Trip with the Teacher, Malibu High/Malibu Beach, The Babysitter/Weekend with the Babysitter, etc.

    The Drive-in Cult Classics series is the perfect remedy for these lean economic times (8 movies for 10.99 CDN). In fact, I'm gonna try to pick up Vol. 4 later this evening.

    Yeah, thanks, man. Wait... nominated? You mean that wasn't some kind of cruel joke? Yikes.

    Anyway, good luck. :)

  5. Memorável atuação do grande coadjuvante Anthony James. Angel Tompkins é linda. Vou atrás de poutros dos seus filmes. Nota 7.