After the death of famed calculus teacher Jaime Escalante, who was depicted in the inspirational movie Stand and Deliver, USA Today reporter Greg Toppo took a look at education movies more generally. Greg talked to James Trier, a University of North Carolina professor who studies movies and television shows about teachers. Going all the way back to Blackboard Jungle, teachers have been presented as saviors who — with some humor, tough love or other means — change the lives of their most troubled students. CNN showed no skepticism and assembled a list of 10 such cliched films in this piece.
Neither piece mentioned my favorite: Teachers, a 1984 film starring Nick Nolte, as a once-idealistic teacher who has been beaten down by booze and the inanity of the system. He’s reinspired by his students as well as JoBethWilliams, a former student-turned civil rights lawyer, who shows up to sue the district because of the poor quality of education it is delivering.
Teachers riffs on other teacher movies and includes a classic staff lunchroom scene (a humorously ironic re-creation of a similar scene in Blackboard Jungle). But what I mostly like about Teachers is the writing.
The hapless principal who, as in many other school movies hides out in his office, says: “We’re not here to worry about one kid, we’re trying to get as many through with what we’ve got.” Lots of other great quotes can be found here, on ImDb.
— Richard Lee Colvin