Cast & Crew
Miss Constance Brooks, the new English teacher at Madison High School, looks through the newspaper want ads for rooms to rent. After finding an ad placed by Mrs. Margaret Davis, Connie proceeds to the address listed and rings the doorbell. Instead of answering the door, however, the elderly Mrs. Davis mistakenly answers the phone in her foyer. Connie can hear Mrs. Davis speaking into the phone and so has a conversation with her from the front porch. After Mrs. Davis invites Connie to visit, Connie knocks on the door and Mrs. Davis, surprised at her promptness, welcomes her. With the approval of the resident cat Minerva, Mrs. Davis rents the room to Connie. As an afterthought, Mrs. Davis points out the view from a window, which reveals a rundown but charming cottage for sale. Seeing the property's romantic potential, Connie fantasizes about the man who will buy it. Later, at school, Connie meets a student, Fabian "Stretch" Snodgrass, who shows her the campus, but when she sees the handsome biology teacher, Phil Boynton, working out with barbells on the lawn, Connie decides to continue sightseeing on her own. While introducing herself to the bashful teacher, Connie imagines how he would look in front of the cottage. Osgood Conklin, the domineering principal, then walks up and reminds them that teacher "fraternizing" is prohibited. Over the following months, Connie and Phil go on frequent dates, but only to the zoo. Oblivious to Connie's romantic frustration, Phil contemplates the mating habits of beasts and admits that he occasionally thinks about marrying. In class, Connie cannot reach a bright but failing student, Gary Nolan, and so visits Gary's widowed father Lawrence, a busy newspaper owner. When Larry accuses Connie of being incompetent, she retorts by calling him a stuffed shirt. Soon Connie realizes that Gary, who is surrounded by everything money can buy, needs his father's attention, and agrees to tutor him at the Nolan home. One day, Phil confesses to Mrs. Davis that he is saving money and hopes for a promotion so that he can marry Connie. Although she promises to not reveal his plans, Mrs. Davis later pretends to read Connie's fortune in the cards and "foretells" of a marriage proposal being postponed until there is economic security. Mr. Stone, the head of the board of education, who is campaigning for the post of coordinator of education, criticizes Osgood's military style and threatens to fire him after he is elected. To avoid what he considers "a dishonorable discharge," Osgood decides to campaign against Stone and, by promising to promote Phil if he is elected, enlists Connie as his campaign manager. Connie gets whole-hearted cooperation from the students when she reveals her campaign slogan, "Get Mr. Conklin into public office and out of Madison." During tutoring sessions, Connie assigns Gary to write stories for the school paper and Larry encourages Gary by printing some of his articles in the town newspaper. Grateful to Connie for Gary's improvement, Larry becomes romantically drawn to her. When the Nolans invite her to sail on their yacht, Connie agrees to go, after Phil, feeling neglected, jealously breaks his date with her. While on the yacht, Connie considers Larry as a suitor and briefly daydreams about how he would look standing in front of the cottage, but the fantasy does not seem right. To assist Phil and Connie's failing romance, Mrs. Davis suggests to Phil that Connie is "in jeopardy" from Larry, whom she describes as a "suave operator." Borrowing an old jalopy from student Walter Denton, Phil drives to the beach and then rows out to save her, but falls in the water near the yacht. After Larry pulls him to safety, Phil discovers that Gary is aboard. Realizing that Connie is on a family outing and not at the mercy of a lecherous playboy, Phil admits he feels "ridiculous." Soon after, Osgood rows up. Having learned from Walter, his daughter's boyfriend, that Connie knows the powerful newspaperman, he is eager to request Larry's help in publicizing his campaign. Osgood also falls in the lake and is rescued, after which Larry agrees to help Osgood, because it would involve working with Connie. That evening, Phil admits to Connie that he has nothing to offer her in comparison with the wealthy Larry. When Connie suggests, "the best defense is a good offense," Phil thinks for a minute, then kisses her passionately. Later, Phil is called out of town to see his ailing mother. The doctor tells him that Mrs. Boynton suffers a psychosomatic illness caused by loneliness. Back in Madison, Phil, who lives in a tiny bachelor apartment, goes house hunting. Connie is at the realtor paying a bill for Mrs. Davis, when Phil calls about the cottage. Overhearing the realtor mention "Mrs. Boynton," Connie assumes that a marriage proposal is forthcoming and takes samples of wallpaper to the cottage, where she fantasizes about married life. When Phil arrives, she learns, to her dismay, that he bought the house for his mother and she leaves in tears. After hearing about Connie's plight, Mrs. Davis visits Mrs. Boynton, with whom she has often played canasta, and tells her about Phil and Connie. Due to Larry's help, Osgood is leading at the polls, but he resigns when he learns that the salary of the new position pays only $500 a year. Later, Mrs. Boynton visits Mrs. Davis at her home and explains to Connie that the shy Phil rarely talked about his feelings for Connie, and consequently she knew little about their romance until Mrs. Davis told her. After explaining her feelings of loneliness, which prompted Phil to bring her to town, she says she is moving in with Mrs. Davis, so that Connie and Phil can live in the cottage. Touched by Phil's kindness to his mother, Connie seeks him out at the zoo. Seeing Connie, Phil imagines how she will look in front of the cottage and they decide to marry.
Philip Van Zandt
G. W. Berntsen
C. M. Folorance
Edward "mecca" Graham
Leo K. Kuter
M. A. Merrick
Irva Mae Ross
Frederick Y. Smith
Our Miss Brooks
Al Lewis, who had been the chief writer on the radio series, directed the film from a script he wrote with Joseph Quillan, based on an idea by Robert Mann. The cinematic version of Our Miss Brooks reunited many of the radio and television cast, including Richard Crenna as Walter Denton, Gloria McMillian as Harriet Conklin, Jane Morgan as Connie's landlady, Margaret Davis, Robert Rockwell as Mr. Boynton, (replacing Jeff Chandler when he left to become a full-time film star), veteran actor Joseph Kearns as Superintendent Stone, and Gale Gordon as the blustering principal, Mr. Conklin. In 1952, Gordon told The Ottawa Citizen, "In my years of radio acting, I have enjoyed many parts, but none have pleased me as much as the role of Osgood Conklin in Our Miss Brooks. Everyone has to 'sound off' from time to time, and by letting go steam every Sunday on the show, I'm able to remain a real quiet, peace-loving individual all week long with my family." Also in the cast were Don Porter and a young Nick Adams.
Despite the poster tagline "She's making passes after classes and more he-larious than ever!" the film version of Our Miss Brooks goes in an entirely different direction than either the radio or television program. Wealthy newspaper publisher Lawrence Nolan (Porter), the father of Connie's student, Gary, (Adams) accuses her of being a bad teacher when his son can't keep his grades up. Connie tells Nolan that he's the one to blame for working so hard and not spending enough time with his son. Despite the rebuke, Nolan asks Connie to tutor Gary. Soon, Nolan and Connie have started a romance, which finally stirs up the jealousy of Mr. Boynton (Rockwell) with whom she has long been in love, one of the themes of the radio and television program.
Made for Warner Bros., the film was premiered in Fargo, North Dakota on April 24, 1956. The television program, which had won an Emmy Award and ran for 130 episodes, was already seeing its ratings flag. It was cancelled the following year.
By Lorraine LoBianco
Hammerston, Claude "Meet 'Miss Brooks' Landlady and Her Principal" The Ottawa Citizen 24 Oct 52
The Internet Movie Database
Knepper, Marty and Lawrence, John The Book of Iowa Films
Our Miss Brooks
Our Miss Brooks -
By Violet LeVoit
Our Miss Brooks -
Richard Crenna, 1927-2002
Born on November 30, 1927 in Los Angeles, California, Crenna was the son of a pharmacist father and a mother who managed a number of small hotels in the Los Angles area the family owned, where Crenna was raised. At the tender age of 11, he was encouraged by a teacher to audition for a radio show, "Boy Scout Jamboree" at the nearby KFI-AM radio studio. Little did he realize that it would be the start of a very long and prosperous career.
Crenna found steady radio work for the next several years, culminating in 1948 with his breakthrough role of the goofy, squeaky-voiced Walter Denton in the hit radio series Our Miss Brooks. Crenna carried the momentum of his success to television when he spent four more seasons as Walter on Our Miss Brooks (1952-1956). Almost immediately after the run of that show, Crenna scored another hit series as Luke McCoy in the rustic comedy The Real McCoys (1957-1963) co-starring Walter Brennan.
Although he had been acting in films since the early '50s Crenna roles didn't come to critical notice until the mid '60s, appearing in Robert Wise's acclaimed The Sand Pebbles (1966) as the stalwart gunboat captain co-starring Steve McQueen; Terence Young's intense thriller, Wait Until Dark (1967), as a criminal who terrorizes a blind Audrey Hepburn; and another Robert Wise film, the Gertrude Lawrence biopic Star! (1968) playing the high profile role of Richard Aldrich opposite Julie Andrews.
Crenna's profile slowed down in the '70s, despite a brief return to television comedy in Norman Lear's political satire All's Fair (1976-1977) with Bernadette Peters. That show may not have lasted long, but Crenna bounced back with a resurgence in the '80s with a string of hit character parts: Lawrence Kasden's stylish film noir Body Heat (1981), as Kathleen Turner's ill-fated husband; Ted Kotchoff's hit Rambo: First Blood (1982), as Colonel Samuel Trautman, Sylvester Stallone's former Commander; Gary Marshall's excellent coming-of-age tale The Flamingo Kid (1984), one of his best performances (for which he received a Golden Globe nomination) as a smooth, charismatic gin-rummy champ who takes Matt Dillon under his tutelage; and many other quality roles in theatrical and made for television movies.
At the time of his death, Crenna was a member of the Screen Actors Guild board of directors and had a recurring role in the hit CBS dramatic series Judging Amy. In addition to Penni, his wife of 47 years, Crenna is survived by a son, Richard, two daughters, Seana and Maria, and three granddaughters.
by Michael T. Toole
Richard Crenna, 1927-2002
The opening credits read, "Eve Arden as Our Miss Brooks. In December 1948, a Los Angeles Times news item reported that actress Eve Arden was interested in taking her CBS radio show, Our Miss Brooks, to "the screen." The news item noted that Arden was at that time considered the "No. 1 comedienne," according to a poll of radio editors and columnists. Beginning in 1952, Arden appeared as "Our Miss Brooks," along with most of her radio cast, in the Desilu-produced CBS television series. The show, which was written by director Al Lewis and his collaborator, Joseph Quillan, became immensely popular and, according to a Sept 1955 Los Angeles Examiner article, the public closely identified Arden with the fictional teacher. She received trophies and other special merits from teacher organizations, and several schools throughout the country named her their honorary principal.
After Jack Webb's success in taking the premise, cast and crew of his radio-television show, Dragnet, to feature film in 1954 (see entry above), Warner Bros. was open to presenting Arden's radio-TV series on the big screen. As noted in a April 7, 1955 Hollywood Reporter, Daily Variety and Los Angeles Examiner news items, most of the cast and crew of the television series worked on the film. Our Miss Brooks was the only film made by the newly formed Lute Productions, Inc., a company owned by Arden and Lewis. Two new characters, "Larry Nolan" and "Gary Nolan," were added for the film.
Although her appearance in the film has not been confirmed, an August 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item adds Dinah Ace to the cast. According to Hollywood Reporter news items and a Los Angeles Examiner article, portions of the film were shot in Glendale and Stockton, CA. Yachting sequences were shot at Venice Reach, twenty miles from Stockton.
According to an October 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item, following the film's completion in September 1955, Lewis requested and received a release from the television show to concentrate on a film career. During its 1955-56 season, ratings for the television show were slipping and its last episode aired in September 1956, a few months after the film was released. The wisecracking English teacher remained in public memory for several decades afterward, and Arden was especially loved and remembered for her portrayal.
Released in United States Spring March 1956
Based on CBS television series of the same name.
Released in United States Spring March 1956