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Teachers (film)

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Arthur Hiller
Produced by Art Levinson
Aaron Russo
Irwin Russo
Written by W. R. McKinney
Music by Bryan Adams
Ian Hunter
Freddie Mercury
Bob Seger
The Motels
.38 Special
Cinematography David M. Walsh
Edited by Don Zimmerman
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • October 5, 1984 (1984-10-05)
Running time
106 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $27,536,746 (USA)

Teachers is a 1984 satirical dark comedy-drama film starring Nick Nolte, JoBeth Williams, Ralph Macchio, and Judd Hirsch, written by W. R. McKinney and directed by Arthur Hiller. The movie was shot in Columbus, Ohio, mostly at the former Central High School. The building is now home to the COSI Columbus museum.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Critical Response 3
  • Soundtrack 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The film opens with a typical Monday morning at John F. Kennedy High School; "typical" events including a fight between teachers, a student with a stab wound and talk of an upcoming lawsuit. We meet haggard Vice Principal Roger Rubell (Judd Hirsch) and clueless Principal Eugene Horn (William Schallert), as well as stuffy lawyer and JFK alumna Lisa Hammond (JoBeth Williams), who is in charge of taking depositions for the Calvin case, in which a recent graduate is suing the school for granting him a diploma despite his illiteracy.

Alex Jurel (Nick Nolte) is a veteran Social Studies teacher who takes his job lightly despite being one of the most popular teachers in school because of his ability to identify and connect with the students. Jurel has been worn down by years of being in-between the rowdy students and the demands of the administration. He is assigned to temporarily take over the duties of the school psychologist (who started a fight in the office) and meets a young man named Eddie Pilikian (Ralph Macchio) to whom he becomes a mentor. During this time, a romance also develops between Jurel and Hammond, his former student.

The major plotline centers on the Calvin lawsuit, with Superintendent Donna Burke (Richard Mulligan), an outpatient from a mental institution, and coincidentally a brilliant history mind who is accidentally put in charge of a U.S. History class and makes it fun, educational and engaging; gym teacher Mr. Troy’s sexual relationship with one of Jurel's students, Diane Warren (Laura Dern) that ends with Jurel taking her to an abortion clinic, and the death of Eddie Pilikian’s best friend Danny Reese (Crispin Glover), a schizophrenic and kleptomaniac student who is shot and killed by the police after he draws a gun from his locker during a drug search.

At the climax of the film, the administration recognizes the threat Jurel poses to their social standing and forces him to resign before his deposition. After harsh criticism from Lisa, as well as her streaking down the school hallway naked (an allusion to Jurel's earlier accusation that she was unable to walk down the school halls 'naked' and see its true troubles), he finally stands up to Burke and Rubell, reminding them that the school exists for the students and not for the administration and protecting their jobs. He also threatens to sue should he be fired. He proudly walks back into the school, with loud cheers from the school's students and Lisa looking on proudly.


Critical Response

The movie opened to mixed reviews, with reviewers feeling it lacked the incisive touch of Paddy Chayefsky's satires (he had previously written Hiller's other dark satire, The Hospital).[1][2][3] It holds a rating of 58% on review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes.[4]


Soundtrack album by various artists
Released 1984
Genre Rock, Hard Rock
Label Capitol Records
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic [5]
  1. "Teacher, Teacher" - 38 Special
  2. "One Foot Back in Your Door" - Roman Holliday
  3. "Edge of a Dream" - Joe Cocker
  4. "Interstate Love Affair" - Night Ranger
  5. "Foolin' Around" - Freddie Mercury
  6. "Cheap Sunglasses" - ZZ Top
  7. "Understanding" - Bob Seger
  8. "I Can't Stop the Fire" - Eric Martin & Friends
  9. "In the Jungle (Concrete Jungle)" - The Motels
  10. "(I'm the) Teacher" - Ian Hunter
The theme song by 38 Special was released as a single and reached No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.

See also

  • General Custer he partially reprises in Teachers, as mental patient Herbert Gower, who teaches his pupils while impersonating historical figures such as Custer, but also Abe Lincoln and Ben Franklin amongst others (see above).
  • Up The Down Staircase
  • To Sir With Love, another film dealing with high school.
  • My Bodyguard, another film dealing with high school.


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External links

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