Teaching Mrs. Tingle

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Teaching Mrs. Tingle
Teaching Mrs Tingle.jpg
Theatrical film poster
Directed byKevin Williamson
Produced byCathy Konrad
Julie Plec
Bob Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein
Written byKevin Williamson
Music byJohn Frizzell
CinematographyJerzy Zielinski
Edited byDebra Neil-Fisher
Distributed byMiramax Films
Release date
  • August 20, 1999 (1999-08-20)
Running time
96 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$13 million
Box office$8.9 million

Teaching Mrs. Tingle is a 1999 American black comedy film written and directed by Kevin Williamson, in his directorial debut, and starring Helen Mirren, Katie Holmes, Marisa Coughlan, Barry Watson, and Jeffrey Tambor. It follows a trio of high school seniors who must prove their innocence to their vindictive history teacher, who accuses them of cheating on their exams. Williamson originally shelved the script, before the success of his later projects, including Dawson's Creek, Scream, and its first sequel. Following this, the script was eventually picked up.

Released in the United States on August 20, 1999, the film was originally titled Killing Mrs. Tingle, but was delayed and retitled due to the uproar over teen violence in films after the Columbine High School massacre. The film received mostly poor reviews from critics and was a box-office bomb. It has since gained a small cult following. It remains Williamson’s only directional effort on film to November 2018.


In Grandsboro, Northern California, Leigh Ann Watson is a high school student living with her single mother Faye, who works as a waitress. Leigh Ann's aim is to achieve top grades to become valedictorian and leave town. However, her grade in history class is threatened by her sadistic and vindictive teacher, Mrs. Eve Tingle, who has a special dislike for Leigh Ann and downgrades Leigh Ann's well-designed project due to a minor historical inaccuracy.

Fellow student Luke Churner takes the final exam papers from Tingle and makes a copy. He offers Leigh Ann the papers, but she insistently refuses to cheat. However, Luke stashes the papers in Leigh Ann's backpack. Tingle discovers the papers in Leigh Ann's backpack, and threatens to expel her for cheating. Mrs. Tingle heads to Principal Potter's office, but he has left for the day and decides to tell him in the morning. The trio head to Mrs. Tingle's house that night and try to convince Mrs. Tingle that Leigh Ann is innocent. Mrs. Tingle, however, refuses to listen and hints that she believes them but does not care. Luke picks up a loaded crossbow, a project from one of Mrs. Tingle's students, and threatens her. A physical struggle ensues, the crossbow goes off, and in the ensuing mêlée, Mrs. Tingle is accidentally knocked unconscious. The students panic and tie Mrs. Tingle to her bed. Leigh Ann returns to her house and promises to return in the morning, while Luke and Jo Lynn are left to watch Mrs. Tingle in the bedroom. While under Jo Lynn's watch, Mrs. Tingle regains consciousness, and playing on her guilt, asks to be untied. Mrs. Tingle immediately attacks Jo Lynn, but is restrained by Luke and is retied and gagged.

The trio gathers together at Mrs. Tingle's house the next morning. Jo Lynn then calls the school and impersonates Mrs. Tingle, calling in sick. Leigh Ann and Luke go to school, leaving Jo Lynn to watch Mrs. Tingle. When they return home, the trio devises a plan to blackmail Mrs. Tingle by using fake photos of Luke and Mrs. Tingle in bed together. Meanwhile, Mrs. Tingle plays mind games with Jo Lynn, concerning her jealousy about Leigh Ann's supposed relationship with Luke. Later that day, the plan goes awry when the school's gym teacher, Coach Richard Wenchell arrives and is revealed to be having an affair with her. Jo Lynn, again, impersonates Mrs. Tingle and blindfolds Coach Wenchell to hide her identity. When Wenchell passes out after a high intake of alcohol, Leigh Ann, Luke, and Jo Lynn decide to blackmail Mrs. Tingle by producing photographic evidence of her love affair with Wenchell.

While Leigh Ann and Luke leave to have the pictures printed and take an unconscious Coach Wenchell home undetected, Mrs. Tingle reveals to Jo Lynn that Leigh Ann and Luke spent the night together at a party. Distraught, Jo Lynn leaves. When Leigh Ann and Luke arrive back, Leigh Ann charges that Tingle only hates Leigh Ann because Leigh Ann has, unlike herself, the potential to leave their small town and experience life and that Leigh Ann is not afraid of Tingle. In retaliation, Tingle acknowledges Leigh Ann's cowardice, saying she used to be Leigh Ann in every way and that Tingle herself is Leigh Ann's future. In response, Leigh Ann and Luke have sex downstairs. Later, the two find Mrs. Tingle's history grade book. Leigh Ann marks down her rival Trudie Tucker's top A grade down to a B, and upgrades her own C to an A+.

The next day at school, Jo Lynn ignores Leigh Ann, still hurt over her betrayal. Leigh Ann tries to make amends with Jo Lynn, but admits that she had sex with Luke, further infuriating Jo Lynn, who accuses Leigh Ann of being just like Mrs. Tingle. Mrs. Tingle escapes from her bonds, ties Luke down in her place, and using the loaded crossbow, once again threatens Leigh Ann. Jo Lynn returns, now saying she will help blackmail and ruin Leigh Ann, but is revealed to be lying. After a violent fight, Mrs. Tingle picks up a crossbow and fires it wildly, trying to hit Leigh Ann. Trudie Tucker walks through the door, gets hit in the chest by the bolt, and collapses. Leigh Ann checks her pulse and says she is dead. Principal Potter arrives to check up on Mrs. Tingle and is horrified by the scene. Guilt-ridden, Tingle confesses that she shot Trudie while trying to kill Leigh Ann and wanted to make her fail like Tingle did herself. However, Trudie was protected by the thick textbook she was holding to her chest and is completely unharmed, which Leigh Ann already knew. Potter calls the police and fires Tingle. The film ends with Leigh Ann being named as valedictorian at graduation.




Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Sigourney Weaver and Sally Field were considered for the role of Mrs. Eve Tingle, the antagonist. Gillian Anderson was offered the role of Mrs. Tingle, but turned it down. Alicia Silverstone was considered for the role of Leigh Ann Watson, the protagonist.

Kevin Williamson chose Helen Mirren, in part because she seemed so unlikely for the role. "This is not the sort of film that I'm usually associated with, so I was thrilled that Kevin would think of me for this role.", said Mirren. Impressed with Williamson's mix of comedy, thrills, and psychological savvy in the script, Mirren saw the story of Mrs. Tingle as being about the most frightening and very real adolescent rite of passage: facing the future. "For me "Teaching Mrs. Tingle" addresses teenagers' insecurities, ambitions, and fears about the future," she explains. "Remembering back to the ages of Leigh Ann, Luke, and Jo Lynn, fear of the future is the most powerful thing driving you on. You don't know what's going to happen to you and it's terrifying. I think adults forget how scary that is. But Mrs. Tingle hasn't forgotten how scary it is; on the contrary, she uses that fear to her own slick advantage when the stakes become higher, manipulating Leigh Ann, Luke and Jo Lynn with savage aplomb." "I think Helen Mirren is one of the greatest living actresses that we have," says Williamson, "and the fact that she wanted to play this role was amazing. She elevated Mrs. Tingle to a new level."


Filming began on May 10, 1998, and ended on July 14, 1998, lasting 65 days. The film was entirely filmed in California. Outside school footage was filmed at El Segundo High School, El Segundo. Other scenes were filmed at Culver Studios, Culver City. Other locations include Pasadena, Culver City High School, John Burroughs Middle School, and Los Angeles.


The film was originally to be called "Killing Mrs. Tingle" and receive an earlier release date. However, due to the Columbine High School massacre that occurred on April 20, 1999, a huge uproar occurred over violence in media. Because of this, many films and TV shows were affected and were rescheduled or re-edited. The film was pushed back to August 20, 1999, and retitled Teaching Mrs. Tingle, which was deemed more acceptable.


Critical response[edit]

The film received mostly negative reviews, with Rotten Tomatoes measuring a 19% approval rating with an average rating of 4 out of 10. The critics' consensus reads: 'As a dark comedy-thriller, this movie lacks humor and thrill.'[2] On Metacritic, the film scored 35 out of 100 based on 32 critics, indicating 'generally unfavorable reviews'.[3] Roger Ebert compared the film to Election in its concept but said that Teaching Mrs. Tingle fell short of Election in wit, and in that Teaching Mrs. Tingle had no sympathetic characters. Ebert complimented Mirren's acting, however.[4] Beth Pratt Common Sense Media gave the film 1 star of out of 5, calling it a "misguided teen thriller".[5] However, there were some positive reviews for the film. Thom Bennett of Film Journal International praised the film, calling it "an entertaining film full of Williamson's familiar movie-reference-laced dialogue."[6] Michael Dequina of The Movie Reporter gave the film 3 out of 4 stars calling the film "admittedly junky but wickedly watchable revenge fantasy."[7]

Box office[edit]

The film was a box-office bomb; it made US$3.3 million in its opening weekend, debuting at number 10 at the North American box office.[8] However, by its second week, the film dropped down to number 15 and brought in $2,344,298. The film continued to drop, and on its final week in the box office, the film was at number 44. By the end of its run, the film grossed $8,951,935 at the domestic box office, losing $4,480,065 against an estimated budget of $13 million.[9]



Teaching Mrs. Tingle: Music from the Dimension Motion Picture
Soundtrack album by
various artists
ReleasedAugust 17, 1999

The original motion picture soundtrack was released by Capitol Records on August 17, 1999. The album features music from Eve 6, The Moffatts, Stretch Princess, Tara MacLean, Duncan Sheik, Kendall Payne, Sozzi, Bree Sharp, Radford, and Eman.

Teaching Mrs. Tingle: Music from the Dimension Motion Picture
1."Sorry"Elizabeth Cutler, Jo Lloyd, David Magee and James WrightStretch Princess3:30
2."Tongue Tied"Max Collins, Tony Fagenson and Jonathan SiebelsEve 63:12
3."If I Fall"Tara MacLeanTara MacLean4:09
4."'Til I Cry You out of Me"Jonnie MostSozzi4:09
5."Wonderland"Kendall PayneKendall Payne3:42
6."I Shut Down"Emanuel KiriakouEman4:20
7."Fall At Your Feet" Radford4:27
8."Show Me"Simon Austin, Mike Rogers and Bree SharpBree Sharp3:59
9."Alibi"Duane Lavold and Duncan SheikDuncan Sheik4:10
10."Misery"Klaus Major Heuser, Bob Moffatt, Clint Moffatt, Dave Moffatt and Scott MoffattThe Moffatts4:51
11."At Seventeen"Janis IanTara MacLean4:08
Total length:44:37


Teaching Mrs. Tingle: Original Score From the Dimension Motion Picture
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedAugust 24, 1999
LabelVarèse Sarabande

The score was composed by John Frizzell and was released as an album on August 24, 1999 by Varèse Sarabande.

Teaching Mrs. Tingle: Original Score From the Dimension Motion Picture
1."The Incident At School"2:02
2."Untie Me... Please"2:15
3."The Crossbow Accident"2:49
4."Get a Television, Mrs. Tingle"1:08
5."Spanky Shows Up"3:14
6."I Know You"2:20
7."Caught Cheating"1:38
8."My Mom Has Been Very Sick"1:10
9."Luke Confides In Tingle"2:31
10."Close Your Eyes"1:21
11."Leigh Ann Crosses The Line"1:42
12."I Don't Think So"0:49
13."I'm Your Friend"1:10
Total length:30:21

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD and VHS on December 21, 1999, by Dimension Home Video. As part of a deal with Miramax, Echo Bridge Home Entertainment released the film on Blu-ray on May 3, 2011.[10] Teaching Mrs. Tingle was released in several countries on Blu-ray, including the United Kingdom on June 25, 2012, by StudioCanal UK,[11] Germany on June 7, 2012 by Studio Canal,[12] France on July 3, 2012 by Studio Canal[13] and Spain on November 30, 2011 by Emon Home Entertainment.[14]


Year Award Category Work Result
2000 Saturn Award Best Horror Film Teaching Mrs. Tingle Nominated
MTV Movie Award Best Kiss Katie Holmes
Barry Watson
Teen Choice Award Choice Movie: Villain Helen Mirren Nominated
Choice Movie: Chemistry Katie Holmes
Barry Watson

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "TEACHING MRS. TINGLE (15)". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved March 29, 2011.
  2. ^ "Teaching Mrs. Tingle - Movie Reviews, Trailers, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
  3. ^ "Teaching Mrs. Tingle Reviews - Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved March 20, 2013.
  4. ^ "Teaching Mrs. Tingle Review (1999)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
  5. ^ "Teaching Mrs. Tingle Movie Review". Common Sense Media. Retrieved May 29, 2014.
  6. ^ "TEACHING MRS. TINGLE". Film Journal International. Retrieved March 23, 2015.
  7. ^ "Teaching Mrs. Tingle (PG-13)". The Movie Reporter. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
  8. ^ "Company Town Film Profit Report". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-03.
  9. ^ "Teaching Mrs. Tingle (1999) - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
  10. ^ "Teaching Mrs. Tingle Blu-ray (US)". Retrieved March 23, 2015.
  11. ^ "Teaching Mrs. Tingle Blu-ray (UK)". Retrieved March 23, 2015.
  12. ^ "Tötet Mrs. Tingle Blu-ray". Retrieved March 23, 2015.
  13. ^ "Mrs. Tingle Blu-ray". Retrieved March 23, 2015.
  14. ^ "Secuestrando a la Srta. Tingle Blu-ray". Retrieved March 23, 2015.

External links[edit]