Teacher’s Pets – Rediscovering ‘Good Morning, Miss Dove’ (US 1955 – 107 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - September 01, 2014
Teacher’s Pets – Rediscovering ‘Good Morning, Miss Dove’ (US 1955 – 107 mins)

I’ve always had a soft spot for old-fashioned drama’s which cover many years in the life of the central character. Some of my favourites are the little-known ‘Wait till the Sun Shines, Nellie’ (’52), with David Wayne and Jean Peters, and the 1950 biopic ‘The Magnificent Yankee’, with Louis Calhern. There’s just something reassuringly cosy about them, and the type of movie that you can return to over the years.

Based on Frances Gray Patton’s 1954 bestseller of the same name, ‘Good Morning, Miss Dove’ is a charming piece of Americana about a small-town teacher looking back on her past. Spanning a few decades, it lovingly recaptures the warmth and feel of a bygone era.

Miss Dove (Jennifer Jones) is a stern yet well-loved teacher who has proved herself to be an inspiration to many of her students over the years. After suffering with back pain during class, she sends one of her students off to get medical help. Doctor Baker (Robert Stack), himself a former student of Miss Dove’s, takes her to hospital, where she is rested. While bed-ridden she receives much help from her students, causing the aging and ailing Miss Dove to recall her past.

As the beloved Miss Dove, Jennifer Jones has one of her best roles here. Jones had earlier won an Oscar for ‘The Song of Bernadette’ (’43), and co-starred with Gregory Peck in the controversial western ‘Duel in the Sun (’46). One of Jennifer’s most popular movies was made the same year as this one; ‘Love is a Many-Splendored Thing’, with William Holden. Jones was married to famed producer David O. Selznick from 1949 until his death in 1965, when she went into semi-retirement. Her final role was as a victim in the epic disaster flick ‘The Towering Inferno’ (’74). Aged 90, Jennifer died on December 17th 2009. Tough guy actor Robert Stack plays Jones’ doctor and former student, and is best remembered for his television role of Eliot Ness in ‘The Untouchables’ (’59-63). Stack’s biggest success came the following year, playing an alcoholic opposite Rock Hudson and Lauren Bacall, in Douglas Sirk’s cult melodrama ‘Written on the Wind’ (’56), earning him a Best Supporting Actor nomination. Another television veteran; Chuck Connor’s, has a good role as local policeman Bill Holloway.

German-born director Henry Koster had previously made the popular comedy ‘The Bishop’s Wife (’47) with Cary Grant and Loretta Young, and the 1950 James Stewart fantasy ‘Harvey’. He would direct Stewart again in the amusing family comedy ‘Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation’ (’62).

‘Good Morning, Miss Dove’ is a winning little nostalgia piece, and makes for an ideal afternoon’s viewing. The whole cast give fine performances, with Jones especially good, aging convincingly from her youth to old age, with the latter scenes more impressive than the early ones. As ‘inspirational teacher’ movies go, it may not be as moving as ‘Goodbye Mr Chips’ (’39), or as memorable as ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’ (’69), but this small-town fable is still very nearly top of the class.

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