Teaching Mrs. Tingle

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Teaching Mrs. Tingle
Teaching Mrs Tingle.jpg
Theatrical film poster
Directed by Kevin Williamson
Produced by Cathy Konrad
Julie Plec (co-producer)
Written by Kevin Williamson
Starring Katie Holmes
Helen Mirren
Barry Watson
Marisa Coughlan
Music by John Frizzell
Cinematography Jerzy Zielinski
Edited by Debra Neil-Fisher
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release dates
  • August 20, 1999 (1999-08-20)
Running time
96 min.
Language English
Budget $13,000,000
Box office $8,951,935

Teaching Mrs. Tingle is a 1999 black comedy-drama film and the directing debut of screenwriter Kevin Williamson. The film stars Helen Mirren, Katie Holmes, Marisa Coughlan, Barry Watson, and Jeffrey Tambor and was released on August 20, 1999. It 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.


Leigh Ann (Katie Holmes) is a high school student living in a small sleepy town in Northern California with her single mother Faye (Lesley Ann Warren) who works as a waitress. Leigh Ann's aim is to achieve top grades to become valedictorian and leave the rather dead end town. However, her grade in history class is threatened by her sadistic and thoroughly vindictive teacher, Mrs. Tingle (Helen Mirren). Mrs. Tingle has a special dislike for Leigh Ann (she appears to look down on her over her modest background) and down-grades Leigh Ann's well-designed project. Fellow student Luke (Barry Watson) takes the final exam papers from Mrs. Tingle and makes a copy. He offers Leigh Ann the papers but she insistently refuses to cheat. Ultimately, Luke stashes the papers in Leigh Ann's backpack without her consent. Out of nowhere Mrs. Tingle happens by, discovers the papers in Leigh Ann's backpack, and threatens to expel her for cheating.

Leigh Ann, her best friend, Jo Lynn (Marisa Coughlan), an aspiring actress, and Luke head to Mrs. Tingle's house that night and try to convince Mrs. Tingle that Leigh Ann is innocent. Mrs. Tingle, however, does not listen. Luke picks up a loaded crossbow and aims it at Mrs. Tingle, threatening 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, Luke keeps watch downstairs, and Jo Lynn is left to watch Mrs. Tingle in the bedroom. While under Jo Lynn's watch Ms. Tingle regains consciousness and playing on her guilt, Mrs. Tingle feigns dizziness and understanding for the prank and asks to be untied. Jo Lynn proceeds to untie her from the bed, and Mrs. Tingle immediately attacks Jo Lynn and tries to throttle her on the bed. Luke, with loaded crossbow aimed at Mrs. Tingle, convinces her otherwise, and she is retied to her bed.

The trio gathers together at Mrs. Tingles's house the next morning. Jo Lynn then calls the school and impersonates Mrs. Tingle calling in sick in order to buy the trio some time, but all are unsure of what they should do next. Leigh Ann and Luke go to school, leaving Jo Lynn to watch Mrs. Tingle. When they return home, the trio devise a plan to blackmail Mrs. Tingle by using fake photos of Luke and Mrs. Tingle in bed together, suggesting they were having an affair. Meanwhile, Mrs. Tingle plays mind-games with Jo Lynn, planting seeds of jealousy about Leigh Ann's supposed relationship with Luke. Later that day, the plan goes awry when the school's gym teacher, Richard Wenchell (Jeffrey Tambor), called 'Spanky' by Mrs. Tingle, arrives and is revealed to be having an affair with her. Jo Lynn, again, impersonates Mrs. Tingle and blindfolds Mr. Wenchell to hide her identity. When Mr. 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 Mr. Wenchell.

While Leigh Ann and Luke leave to have to have the pictures printed and take an unconscious Mr. Wenchell home undetected, Mrs Tingle manipulates Jo Lynn into turning against Leigh Ann by revealing to her that Leigh Ann and Luke spent the night together at a party. Distraught, Jo Lynn leaves. Leigh Ann and Luke arrive back and cannot find Jo Lynn, thinking Mrs. Tingle had some to do with it. Mrs. Tingle eventually reveals that she hates Leigh Ann because Leigh Ann has, unlike herself, the potential to leave their small town and experience life. Mrs. Tingle's romantic self-revelations are incredible, furthering her captors' disdain of her. Later, she also opines that Leigh Ann does not have the guts to do anything risky that might get her in trouble; in response, an angry and infuriated Leigh Ann kisses Luke and has sex downstairs with him on Mrs. Tingle's couch. Luke and Leigh Ann find Mrs. Tingle's history grade book, and with little persuasion from Luke ('What's right any more'), decides to cheat by changing Mrs. Tingle's grade book. Leigh Ann marks down her rival, Trudie Tucker (Liz Stauber)'s top A grade down to B, and upgrades her own C to an A+.

The next day at school, Jo Lynn ignores Leigh Ann, still hurt over her betrayal. A regretful Leigh Ann tries to make amends with Jo Lynn, but an admission that she'd had sex with Luke further infuriates Jo Lynn because of Mrs. Tingle's seeds of jealousy.

Mrs. Tingle escapes from her bonds and, using the loaded crossbow, once again threatens Leigh Ann. Jo Lynn also appears to be on Mrs. Tingle's side now, but turns out to be only faking it so she could help her friends. After a violent fight Mrs. Tingle appears to tumble to her death down the staircase, but quickly recovers, scrambles to her feet, and picks up a crossbow. She fires it wildly, trying to hit Leigh Ann. Trudie Tucker walks through the door, gets hit in the chest by the bolt, and appears to be dead just as Principal Potter (Michael McKean) arrives to check up on Mrs. Tingle. Furious, Potter confronts Mrs. Tingle and compels her to confess. Tingle vehemently reveals that she wanted Leigh Ann to fail. However, Trudie was protected by a thick textbook she was holding to her chest and is completely unharmed. Mrs. Tingle is fired and arrested for the attempted murder of Trudie and her intended sabotage against Leigh Anne. The final scene of the film shows Leigh Ann being named valedictorian at graduation.


Actor Role
Helen Mirren Mrs. Eve Tingle
Katie Holmes Leigh Ann Watson
Jeffrey Tambor Coach Richard 'Spanky' Wenchell
Barry Watson Luke Churner
Marisa Coughlan Jo Lynn Jordan
Liz Stauber Trudie Tucker
Michael McKean Principal Potter
Lesley Ann Warren Mrs Faye Watson
Molly Ringwald Miss Banks
Vivica A. Fox Miss Gold
John Patrick White Brian Berry
Robert Gant Professor (scenes deleted)


The film received mostly negative reviews, with Rotten Tomatoes measuring a 19% approval rating.[1] 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 sympathethic characters. Ebert complimented Mirren's acting, however.[2]

Box office[edit]

The film made US$3.3 million in its opening weekend, debuting at #10 at the North American box office.[3]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]