Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Arthur Hiller|
|Produced by||Art Levinson
|Written by||W. R. McKinney|
|Music by||Bryan Adams
|Cinematography||David M. Walsh|
|Edited by||Don Zimmerman|
|Box office||$27,536,746 (USA)|
Teachers is a 1984 satirical dark comedy-drama film starring Nick Nolte, JoBeth Williams, Ralph Macchio, and Judd Hirsch, written by W. R. McKinney and directed by Arthur Hiller. The movie was shot in Columbus, Ohio, mostly at the former Central High School. The building is now home to the COSI Columbus museum.
The film opens with a typical Monday morning at John F. Kennedy High School; "typical" events including a fight between teachers, a student with a stab wound and talk of an upcoming lawsuit. We meet haggard Vice Principal Roger Rubell (Judd Hirsch) and clueless Principal Eugene Horn (William Schallert), as well as stuffy lawyer and JFK alumna Lisa Hammond (JoBeth Williams), who is in charge of taking depositions for the Calvin case, in which a recent graduate is suing the school for giving him a diploma despite his illiteracy.
Alex Jurel (Nick Nolte) is a veteran Social Studies teacher who takes his job lightly despite being one of the most popular teachers in school because of his ability to identify and connect with the students. Jurel has been worn down by years of being in-between the rowdy students and the demands of the administration. He is assigned to temporarily take over the duties of the school psychologist (who started a fight in the office) and meets a young man named Eddie Pilikian (Ralph Macchio) to whom he becomes a mentor. During this time, a romance also develops between Jurel and Hammond, his former student.
The major plotline centers on the Calvin lawsuit, with Superintendent Donna Burke (Lee Grant) and school lawyer Al Lewis (Morgan Freeman) attempting to avoid bad publicity associated with the case. To this end, they try to figure out which teachers will potentially damage the school's reputation in their depositions. Intertwined with the major storyline are Jurel's efforts to reform Pilikian into a student who believes in himself.
A number of minor plotlines deviate from the primary goings-on. These include Herbert Gower (Richard Mulligan), an outpatient from a mental institution, and coincidentally a brilliant history mind who is accidentally put in charge of a U.S. History class and makes it fun, educational and engaging; gym teacher Mr. Troy’s sexual relationship with one of Jurel's students Diane Warren (Laura Dern) that ends with Jurel taking her to an abortion clinic, and the death of Eddie Pilikian’s best friend Danny Reese (Crispin Glover), a schizophrenic and kleptomaniac student who is shot and killed by the police after he draws a gun from his locker during a drug search.
At the climax of the film, the administration recognizes the threat Jurel poses to their social standing and forces him to resign before his deposition. After harsh criticism from Lisa, as well as her streaking down the school hallway naked (an allusion to Jurel's earlier accusation that she was unable to walk down the school halls 'naked' and see its true troubles), he finally stands up to Burke and Rubell, reminding them that the school exists for the students and not for the administration and protecting their jobs. He also threatens to sue should he be fired. He proudly walks back into the school, with loud cheers from the school's students and Lisa looking on proudly.
- Nick Nolte as Alex Jurel
- JoBeth Williams as Lisa Hammond
- Judd Hirsch as Vice Principal Roger Rubell
- Ralph Macchio as Eddie Pilikian
- Allen Garfield as Carl Rosenberg
- Lee Grant as Dr. Donna Burke
- Richard Mulligan as Herbert Gower
- Royal Dano as Ditto a.k.a. Kenneth Stiles
- William Schallert as Principal Horn
- Art Metrano as Troy
- Laura Dern as Diane Warren
- Crispin Glover as Danny Reese
- Morgan Freeman as Alan Lewis
- Madeleine Sherwood as Grace Wensel
- Steven Hill as Sloan
- Zohra Lampert as Mrs. Pilikian
- Mary Alice as Linda Ganz
- Terrance Ellis as Tim Hahn (as Terry Ellis)
- Ronald Hunter as Mr. Pilikian
- Virginia Capers as landlady
- Ellen Crawford as Social Worker
- Vivian Bonnell as Nurse
- Anthony Heald as Narc
- Katharine Balfour as Theresa Bloom
- Jeff Ware as Malloy
- Richard Zobel as Propes
- George Dzundza as paramedic (uncredited)
The movie opened to mixed reviews, with reviewers feeling it lacked the incisive touch of Paddy Chayefsky's satires (he had previously written Hiller's other dark satire, The Hospital). It holds a rating of 58% on review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes.
|Soundtrack album by various artists|
|Genre||Rock, Hard Rock|
- "Teacher, Teacher" - 38 Special
- "One Foot Back in Your Door" - Roman Holliday
- "Edge of a Dream" - Joe Cocker
- "Interstate Love Affair" - Night Ranger
- "Foolin' Around" - Freddie Mercury
- "Cheap Sunglasses" - ZZ Top
- "Understanding" - Bob Seger
- "I Can't Stop the Fire" - Eric Martin & Friends
- "In the Jungle (Concrete Jungle)" - The Motels
- "(I'm the) Teacher" - Ian Hunter
The theme song by 38 Special was released as a single and reached No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
- Little Big Man, a 1970 western by Arthur Penn in which Richard Mulligan originated the portrayal of General Custer he partially reprises in Teachers, as mental patient Herbert Gower, who teaches his pupils while impersonating historical figures such as Custer, but also Abe Lincoln and Ben Franklin amongst others (see above).
- Up The Down Staircase
- To Sir With Love, another film dealing with high school.
- My Bodyguard, another film dealing with high school.