Not having seen it yet, I’m not sure how bad a teacher the one Cameron Diaz plays in Bad Teacher (opening this weekend) is, but she looks like a pretty fun bad teacher. Word is the movie kind of blows, but who wouldn’t want to have a teacher who looks like Cameron Diaz and behaves like a crazed party girl? There have been much worse teachers in the movies, for example….

Miss Jean Brodie in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969)

Played with impeccable Englishness by Maggie Smith, Miss Brodie has her good points: She’s a broadminded lover of the arts who places the nurturing of her students above the rules of the stodgy, unimaginative faculty at the Marcia Blaine School For Girls. She’s smart, witty, and rides a bicycle to work.  She’s even pretty damn sexy for a schoolmarm. Unfortunately, she’s also a spiteful, manipulative fascist sympathizer who uses one of her students as a pawn to break up a marriage and indirectly causes
death of another.

Comeuppance: Loses the respect of student Sandy (Pamela Franklin), as well as her job after Sandy rats her out to the school’s board of governors.

Michael “Tiger” McDrew in Pretty Maids All In A Row (1971)

In this completely wacko teen sex farce from Gene (Star Trek) Roddenberry (yes, the same guy who created Star Trek), Rock Hudson stars as a poon hound football coach and guidance counselor who likes ‘em young, and engages in regular, guilt-free dalliances with the comely female students at Oceanfront High School, and helps out a sexually frustrated male student by hooking him up with pretty, twice-his-age substitute teacher Miss Smith (Angie Dickinson). Which is all well and good, except that he’s also the prime suspect in a string of serial killings targeting the pretty maids of the film’s title. Did I mention this is a comedy?

Comeuppance: Moves to Brazil under a cloud of suspicion. Not much of a punishment, but hey, it was a different time.

Mr. Fromm in Carrie (1976)

English Comp teacher (played by ubiquitous character actor Sydney Lassick) who mocks painfully shy Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) when she compliments curly-headed dreamboat Tommy Ross (William Katt) on his poem (“Why, Carrie White! ‘Bee-yoo-ti-ful!’”) As Tommy correctly observes under his breath: “You suck.”

 Comeuppance: Gets electrocuted during Carrie’s telekinetic freak-out at the prom when he’s sprayed by a fire hose while clutching a live microphone and urging everyone to stay calm. Yay!

The Mean Grade School Teacher in Annie Hall (1977)

Frowning, squinty-eyed sourpuss who shames a young Alvy Singer in front of the whole class for sneaking a kiss from a pretty classmate, instilling in him a lifetime of sexual neuroses. It was a long time ago, but that’s how Alvy (Woody Allen) remembers it.

Comeuppance: The woman’s probably miserable enough already.


“The Economics Teacher” in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Professional annoyance Ben Stein appears in the brief but memorable role of smug smartass Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick)’s homeroom teacher, in which he calls out the truant student’s name over and over and over again in his distinctive adenoidal drone. While some may argue this isn’t enough to qualify him as a bad teacher, I suggest they imagine spending an hour locked in a room with Ben Stein.

Comeuppance: Sadly, none.

Jim McAllister in Election (1999)

Matthew Broderick’s hapless ethics teacher is a complicated, tragic figure à la Miss Jean Brodie, a popular and dedicated educator undone by his own ego and insecurities. In an effort to derail the bright future of perky, ruthless overachiever Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon), McAllister tampers with the election of class president, tossing out the deciding vote that favors Flick over good-natured lunkhead Paul Metzler (Chris Klein). Alas, a grudge-bearing janitor intercedes, and McAllister’s subterfuge comes back to bite him on the ass.

Comeuppance: Forced to resign in disgrace and gets his Ford Festiva spat on by a disenchanted student. Moves to a broom closet-sized apartment in New York and becomes a tour guide.

Mrs. Tingle in Teaching Mrs. Tingle (1999)

In Scream screenwriter Kevin Williamson’s all-but-forgotten directing debut, Dame Helen Mirren classes up some really hokey material as the titular Mrs. Tingle, a frustrated history teacher who makes life miserable for sweet little Leigh Ann (sweet little Katie Holmes) because she’s jealous of Leigh Ann for being so young and cute and smart and everything. It’s a two-dimensional, nasty old biddy role, but Mirren’s steely intelligence and shrewd wit goes a long way toward making Mrs. Tingle a believable and even memorable character, even if the movie she’s in isn’t.

Comeuppance: After Leigh Ann and two friends invade Mrs. Tingle’s home, knock her unconscious, tie her to a bed, attempt to blackmail her and then push her down a flight of stairs, she gets fired from her teaching position for being really, really mean to Leigh Ann. And the three young felons skip off arm in arm into the sunset.

Father Berenguer in Bad Education/La Mala Educación (2004)

It’s one thing for a priest to bugger one of his underage students, it’s another thing for him to be a lying, cheating jerk. Father Berenguer, the principal and literature teacher (another one!) at a Mexican Catholic boarding school for boys circa 1964, not only extorts sex from one of his young charges, but then goes back on the bargain, expelling the boy’s true love and breaking both their little hearts out of jealousy and spite.

Comeuppance: Years later gets killed in a car accident caused by one of the boys’ brother. ¡Al Diablo con tigo, puta!