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The Independent Critic

Jay North, Anthony James, Angel Tompkins and Marlene Schmidt
Hikmet Avedis
Rated R
97 Mins.
Cheezy Flicks Entertainment (DVD)

 "The Teacher" Review 
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Every actor who has ever been cast in what turned out to be an iconic sort of role has made that one desperate attempt to break their typecasting or to simply prove capable of doing something different.

The Teacher, a 1974 grindhouse flick, is that film for Jay North, who became a household name as a child star playing Dennis the Menace on television. As is often the case, as most of us know by now, The Teacher didn't light up the career of North nor did it convince anyone in Hollywood that he was capable of doing anything differently. While North has shown up in occasional supporting roles, The Teacher is pretty solid proof of why North truly was a one-hit wonder in Hollywood.

In The Teacher, a beautiful and seductive small-town high school teacher (Angel Tompkins) seduces her star pupil (North). As always happens in movies such as this one, the growing lust and desire leads to murder and mayhem when their increasingly out of control passions stokes the jealousy of a town oddball (Anthony James) recently released from a mental hospital.

The Teacher, which seems to show up on compilation DVD's every once in a while, is getting a full-on DVD treatment from those whacked out folks at Cheezy Flicks Entertainment, purveyors of the finest in bad movies, B-movies and oddball movies past and present. While this DVD treatment is devoid of any extras, the film is afforded what is likely the best packaging it's ever had (I'd dare say it's better than the film, but that would be a tad sarcastic).

The truth is if you're looking at a 1974 film starring Jay North, there's a pretty good chance that you're not exactly expecting an Oscar winning film anyway. The Teacher is a grindhouse/exploitation film that is fairly tame by modern standards but also, I must say, a tad creepy given the frequency with which it seems like teachers sleep with their students these days. In 1974, this entire thing likely was incredibly, it could easily be inspired by a true story.

None of the performances here are fantastic, but they don't need to be. North was in his early 20's when this film was made, and you can just get the sense that he's clinging to whatever semblance of a career he can hold onto here. He's not bad. He's not good. He's perfectly functional as Sean, a fairly shy young scholar who is fervently brought out of his shell by the young and incredibly pretty (and often topless/nude) teacher. Tompkins was actuall nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Newcomer in 1971, but appears to have downward spiraled by 1974. That said, her career held steady as a supporting player until 1992 when her credits stopped for unknown reasons.

Writer/Director Hikmet Avedis has assembled a fairly straightforward flick here, but it's one that never really seduces the audience as much as the teacher seduces the student. Tech credits are competent across the board including D.P. Alfred Taylor and the stereotypical 70's score from Shorty Rogers.

For more information on picking up this truly cheesy flick, visit the Cheezy Flicks Entertainment website.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic