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Bad teacher nothing new In Focus by Richard Crouse METRO Published: June 22, 2011

Cam-diaz-bad-teacherDetroit columnist Bob Talbert once wrote, “Good teachers are costly, but bad teachers cost more.”

Of course he wasn’t talking about actual dollars, but the emotional cost of a sketchy education. He could also have been talking about the new Cameron Diaz movie, Bad Teacher, in which she plays – you guessed it – a bad teacher! More concerned with hooking up with a wealthy co-worker (played by her real life ex Justin Timberlake) than with her students, she doesn’t make much of an effort to actually educate until she learns there’s a cash bonus for the teacher with the highest classroom grade average.

Bad teachers are nothing new on the big screen.

In Animal House, Donald Sutherland played stoned-out college professor Dave Jennings. Sutherland said he has regrets about the film.

Not that he had to parade around dressed only in a shirt and effectively moon the audience, no, he bemoans that he didn’t accept a percentage of the box office as payment. “(Director John) Landis phones up and says, ‘I’m going do this movie called Animal House, and they want to give you two-and-a-half per cent of the profits.’

“And I said, ‘No way! I’ve got to have my daily salary everyday.’ So I got paid for one day’s work and threw way $2 million!”

Probably the worst teacher ever appears in Class of 1984, a trashy school drama starring Roddy MacDowell as Terry Corrigan, a fed up teacher who threatens his unruly class with a loaded gun.

Director Mark L. Lester claims the scene was based on a real event, although a follow-up sequence showing an unbalanced Corrigan attempting to run down his students was pure fiction.

Due to excessive violence the movie was banned in several countries but is of interest to Canadian audiences for a performance by Hamilton, Ont. punk band Teenage Head.

One bad movie teacher actually redeems himself. When we first meet Fast Times at Ridgemont High’s Mr. Hand (Ray Walston) he’s prone to saying things like, “What is this fascination with truancy?” to his students, but near the end of the movie he softens and even pulls out all the stops to help his worst student, Spicoli (Sean Penn), graduate.

Ray Walston, so memorable as the uptight Mr. Hand, almost didn’t get the part, however. It was originally offered to Munster’s star Fred Gwynne who declined over objections to the film’s sexual content.

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