Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Overlooked Movies -- Our Miss Brooks

I may have mentioned before that Our Miss Brooks, both on radio and TV, was probably at least in part responsible for my choosing to become an English teacher.  I thought Eve Arden was great, and I still think so.  I wanted to be like her.

The radio show, by the way, outlasted the TV show, and it was on for about a year after this movie version was released.  I didn't listen to it in the later years, but I did watch the TV show right up until the end.

The movie is a curiosity, since it's both an origin story of sorts and an ending to the story, an ending which wasn't carried out on the radio or TV versions.  It begins with Miss Brooks arriving in town, getting a room at Miss Davis' place, and going to Madison High School for the first time, where she meets Stretch Snodgrass (Leonard Smith), Mr. Conklin (Gale Gordon), and Mr. Boynton (Robert Rockwell), with whom she's immediately smitten.

And here comes the sociology.  This is a true 1950s movie, in which Miss Brooks' one thought is that she wants to marry.  She's a good teacher and loves her profession, as is made clear, especially by a passionate speech she gives to Gary Nolan (Nick Adams), a reluctant learner and son of Lawrence Nolan (Don Porter), one of the richest men in town, the owner of the local newspaper (this was a long time ago, for sure).  It's also clear that Mr. Boynton wants a salary increase so he can marry Miss Brooks.  It's accepted without comment or question that she'll quit her job when she marries.  The guy is the head of the house and is required to have an income to support his family without the wife having to work.  

There are several complications in the plot, all of them fairly easily overcome, and in the end the shy Mr. Boynton [HUGE SPOILER] proposes marriage, and they're ready to move into their vine-covered cottage [END OF HUGE SPOILER].

I didn't find this movie as funny as either the radio or TV shows.  Gale Gordon never gets to go into a real rage, for example, and there aren't many jokes.  Eve Arden gets to play to the camera and do a good many double takes, but that's about it.  She never unleashes the kind of sarcasm she did in the other incarnations, or maybe I just missed it.  Still, I'm glad I watched, and if you want a quick glimpse into a bygone era, here it is.


11 comments:

Fred Blosser said...

And of course Walter Denton, played by Richard Crenna, later "Col. Denton Walters" in "Hot Shots Part Deux."

Bill Crider said...

Crenna didn't have much to do in the movie, unlike the radio and TV versions.

George said...

Loved the TV show. I'll have to track down a copy of the movie.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Neither of us ever saw the movie, though we both watched the TV show. I was going to mention Richard Crenna too.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I miss the old days.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Just checked. The series is running on MeTV.

Todd Mason said...

And one of the movie channels or networks, perhaps TCM or Movies!, recently ran the film...is that what put it in mind?

My father just turned 80...and while he was a technician and engineer, then administrator/engineer for most of his working life, his last paid gig was as a instructor for at-risk kids...in constructing and using home computers.

Though he always has had a certain lack of appreciation for Eve Arden...MOTHERS-IN-LAW was his default choice for his least-favored tv series, even ahead of MY MOTHER THE CAR and other contenders.

I've preferred the radio BROOKS to the tv series or the film, but the "kids" are what makes it better for me to take it in small doses...

Bill Crider said...

I watched it on TCM. The kids all looked about 30, except for Stretch, who looked about 45. but considering his scholastic abilities, he might have been 45. The radio show was superior to the other versions, but I like 'em all.

Cap'n Bob said...

I saw this movie a couple or three years ago and found it tepid. As you say, the good parts of the TV show were missing and the ending seemed wrong to me. I never heard the radio version.

Dan said...

Somehow I always thought Eve Arden was kinda hot.

Todd Mason said...

I wouldn't disagree. Jimmy Stewart seemed to be missing a trick in ANATOMY OF A MURDER.