by Kyle Stevens
After teaching for years as a graduate student, then as a postdoc, and then as a Visiting Assistant Professor, I’ve finally started a proper position as Assistant Professor of Film Studies. As semesters begin all over the country, I turned to thinking about my favorite on-screen professors. High school movies tend to serve as microcosms of society; they’re all emotional peaks and valleys, in-groups and out-groups, and the goal is to get out. In college movies, from Animal House and Old School to Legally Blonde and The House Bunny, the goal is to stay on the rip-roaring ride of university life.
Not surprisingly, college teachers don’t feature heavily in these movies. And in other genres where professors pop up, they’re not exactly realistic. Think Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor, Natalie Portman in Thor, Hugh Grant in The Rewrite, and so on. (Propriety dictates that I not comment on the realism of Bruce Humberstone’s 1952 Virginia Mayo vehicle She’s Working Her Way Through College.) Television doesn’t fare much better, as the patently absurd characters in How to Get Away with Murder or Transparent attest.
But here are my personal favorites. The Top Five Professors in Film..