Concerning the Curious Case of an Unnatural Amount of Homework: “The Teacher” (1974)

BUCKING FOR TENURE: In "The Teacher", overripe Angel Tompkins sheds conventions inhibitions as well as her clothing at the drop of a school bell for dorky played by TV's "Dennis the Menace" Jay North, while being menaced by a pop=eyed peeper, although sh'e such an exhibitionist, the

BUCKING FOR TENURE: In “The Teacher”, overripe Angel Tompkins plays high school educator Diane Marshall who sheds conventional inhibitions as well as most of her clothing at the drop of a school bell for dorky student Sean Roberts, played by TV’s “Dennis the Menace” Jay North, though what would an exploitation film be without the recurring theme of violent menace in the form of pop-eyed peeper Anthony James nastily intruding on the pair;s idyllic affair (must be a killjoy from the School Committee) with the promise of violent retribution? Perhaps it’s to remind everyone that “these are professionals, do not attempt to do this with your teacher at home”.

   The effect of the removal of the Production Code with regard to the drive-in youth market had an incalculable, though slow, effect on the films produced which always featured- more than mainstream releases -the wholly exploitable elements of action, rebellion and violence, though in matters of the sexual, most producers displayed the same reticence as the big studios. The emergence of more graphic voyeurism by way of quick flashed of breast, buttocks or pubis became standard fare (though chauvinistically, the exposure was entirely on the female side; frontal male nudity usually meriting the dreaded X) though consentual love making was usually enacted encumbered by so much men’s trouser wear, it rendered the concept of the chastity belt irrelevant. But in spite of the visual timidity of credible depictions of consenting sexuality in drive-in fare (the incidence of more graphic rape, however, was unaccountably and disturbingly prevalent), the male fantasy of sex with forbidden suburbanite fantasy objects would find popularity with the emergence of surrogate cinematic succubi with the proliferation of hormonally hyperactive  stewardesses and cheerleaders, and with the addition of the 1974 feature “The Teacher”, the Triple Crown of the Carnal Conquest was complete.

    High school teacher Diane Marshall (Angel Tompkins) finds herself being stalked by the psychotic stalking vet (a concession to an obscenely overused scapegoat for villainy of the era) Ralph Gordon  (Anthony James) while starting an affair with horny 18 year old recent graduate Sean Roberts (Jay North) who happens to be best friends with Lou Gordon (Rudy Herrera Jr.), the younger brother of the deranged Ralph. In other words, what director-writer Hikmet Avedis constructs for his roster of characters is a community rife with the kind of disfunction which the drive-in exploitation film thrives on.  Typical of films of this type, the lead protagonists operate in a special kind of protected universe, in which the presumptive authority figures- in this case, both Sean’s parents and the police, are clueless dolts who appear incapable of noticing the hotbed of adultery, sexual exhibitionism, violent assault, serial threats, attempted murder and inappropriate leering that is going on right in front of them. If a film maker makes the conscious decision to eliminate connective elements in the story which would advance even a cursory level of credibility (for instance, there is no explanation as to how, at the film’s beginning, the police would have missed the cache of weaponry in a madman’s hideout in the middle of a crime scene, except that it would have ended the film directly after the opening credits) in favor to a complete concession to the more prurient aspects of the story, it defines that film maker as either callous or exploitative.

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About chandlerswainreviews

I've been a puppet, a pirate, a pauper, a poet, a pawn and a king, not necessarily in that order. My first major movie memory was being at the drive-in at about 1 1/2 yrs. old seeing "Sayonara" so I suppose an interest in film was inevitable. (For those scoring at home- good for you- I wasn't driving that evening, so no need to alert authorities.)Writer, critic and confessed spoiler of women, as I have a tendency to forget to put them back in the refrigerator. My apologies.
This entry was posted in 1970's movies, drive-in cinema, Drive-In Movies, Film, Film Reviews, grindhouse, movie reviews, Movies, sex and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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