An Apple a Day Keeps the Teacher at Bay
In her career Doris Day starred in various movies where she ended up being duped by a man who she dislikes but then falls for, probably the most popular of which is "Pillow Talk" the first of the Doris Day and Rock Hudson movies. But before that memorable movie we got "Teacher's Pet" which paired Doris Day up with screen legend Clark Gable in a tale of love, comedy and mistaken identity. And to be honest "Teacher's Pet" is not bad with some entertaining performances from both Day and Gable as well as Gig Young although it also has some issues.
James Gannon (Clark Gable - The Tall Men), the hard nosed editor of a New York newspaper, has learned everything he knows about journalism through hard work and doesn't believe that it can be taught in the class room. So when his boss orders him to help a college professor, Erica Stone (Doris Day - The Pajama Game), with her journalism lectures he is less than pleased. But when he discovers that Stone is a sexy young woman who thinks that editors like Gannon are relics he pretends to be James Gallangher a student to get one over on her. What neither he nor Stone expected was that they would end up becoming attracted to each other.
If you've seen any of Doris Day's numerous romantic comedies then the whole set up to "Teacher's Pet" will be pretty familiar to you as she is duped by the man she dislikes when he pretends to be someone else. And as such there is a predictability to it which goes as far as Gig Young appearing as a third person in the relationship, which may sound like it's quite boring, but in fact "Teacher's Pet" despite being predictable works, it entertains and most significantly switches a few elements around. Where as in many of Doris Day's romantic comedies we would watch Day pulling faces when she becomes infuriated or indignant you don't get that in "Teacher's Pet" but instead you get Clark Gable pulling faces of astonishment. It works surprisingly well and provides much of the amusement and a bit of a difference to her other memorable romantic comedies.
It's the comedy side of things which makes "Teacher's Pet" so entertaining and although the comedy in the earlier scenes which focus on Doris Day being this sexy but slightly frosty professor to Clark Gables' old fashioned paper editor are a little weak, when Gig Young enters the movie it perks up quite a bit. Many of the jokes are obvious from Gable admiring Day's shapely figure, Young struggling with a hang over and so on but the simplicity of the jokes and the wonderful faces which Clark Gable and Gig Young pull make it funnier than maybe it should be. What is quite strange is that for once Doris Day plays it mainly straight allowing the others in the movie to have the lion's share of the comedy.
But there is one major issue and that with 20 years between them the romantic pairing of Doris Day and Clark Gable, it just doesn't really work. Gable's character of James Gannon is purposefully a bit of a letch, he hangs out with young women who dance in what was then deemed a risque way. But it just feels a little bit too lecherous when Gannon makes his advances on Doris Day as Erica Stone. But that's not the only issue, there is a distinct lack of chemistry between Doris Day and Clark Gable and those supposedly romantic scenes end up a little dull, lacking that spark or believability to make you enjoy the romance as it grows.
As for the performances well Clark Gable not only looks brilliant as a stuck in his ways, barracking old paper editor but shows such a great ability for comedy. His looks of astonishment or his drunken head jerks when a sexy woman sings provides much amusement. And Doris Day is not too shabby either playing the sexy professor perfectly and giving us a brief amusing musical number half way through. But in many ways it's Gig Young as psychologist Dr. Hugo Pine which gives "Teacher's Pet" that burst of energy and comedy which at times it lacks elsewhere and he does it so well.
What this all boils down to is that "Teacher's Pet" is to be honest very similar to various other Doris Day movies, it has that formula as we watch her being duped by a man. But with Doris Day playing it for the most straight and allowing both Clark Gable and Gig Young to deliver the comedy it is amusing and slightly different to say "Pillow Talk" or "Lover Come Back".