Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cheers for Miss Bishop (1941)

The life story of an college English teacher, from entering college to her retirement. Along the way, she must deal with happiness and disappointment, love and loss.
            Boy, oh boy, what to say about this movie. This is a stinker of a old melodrama. The sentimentalty and cloyness is so overpowers the film like a flood of molasses.
            How can it be this sentimental? Well get out your checklist of Elements of a Hollywood melodrama, and start checking the following things off: Sympathetic, self sacrificing main female character; everyone’s lives revolving around said female character; devoted male friend; sluttly relavtive/friend who steals love intrest; different love intrest is already married; flashbacks… the list goes on and on.
            It is worth noting that in the rare moments that this film is reviewed, it is often compared to Goodbye, Mr. Chips. That is easy to understand. After all, they both focus on the lives of a teacher. Alas, I myself cannot provided proper comparison, as I’ve seen just once years ago, and barely remember it.
            This was a rather forgettable movie, dispite Martha Scott providing a very good perferomance as the titular Miss Bishop, beliviably aging from her twenties to seventies. And Sterling Haloway (of Disney voice acting fame) creates some amusing moments as a Swedish gardner whose roses are always being trampeled.
            My biggest complaint was with how the film showed the passing of time: going over 50 years of history and relationships in 90 minutes allowed for a (relatively) fast moving story, but at the cost of beter understanding of other characters' motivations, in addition to their and their relationship with Miss Bishop.