This school year started with a whimper. My blog has been delayed due to illness, but I’ve been popping Advil Cold & Sinus and cough drops as often as possible and I do believe I’m on the road to recovery. Hopefully the other students out there have experience a more prosperous beginning!
Continuing with the theme of school and teachers, I wanted to focus on a female instructor first because the final two instructors are comparable by the meaning behind their stories [Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939) & Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995)]. In this blog, I will be touching on a lesser known film from the 1940s titled The Corn is Green (1945), directed by Irving Rapper and starring Bette Davis. Before I dive into the character of Miss Moffat, I would like to go on a small tangent about the woman behind her persona.
Part of the reason why The Corn is Green is one of my favourite films is due to its ability to prove everyone wrong about the supposed typecasting of Bette Davis. Ms. Davis was as versatile as they come — I’ve seen over 70 of her films, and I know the many faces and personalities of her career. Her portrayal of Miss Moffat is one of compassion, mercy, and intellect. Somehow, when Bette Davis plays a back biter, we all rear our heads back and say, “Oh! That’s just Bette!” and then we shove the contrasting roles under the rug. I’d like to lift the rug and smack the dirty hands of those who swept her under it and bring the multitalented woman into the spotlight. Bette Davis was more than a hellcat onscreen, and I believe Miss Moffat is the perfect example.
The Corn is Green follows the story of a woman, Miss Lilly Moffat, who comes to a Welsh coal mining town to build a school. She takes under her wing a stubborn and resistant miner, Morgan Evans (John Dall), who appears to have a higher intellect than most of the students in her class. She becomes his mentor and encourages him to take an examination at Oxford University. Although there is scandal and strife, Miss Moffat refuses to give up on Morgan because she sees his true potential to become something more.
In my heart of hearts, I believe all teachers should be like Miss Moffat at the hand of Bette Davis. Davis portrays a firm but fair character which is essential to learning. Where there is tenderness and compassion, there is also the strength to push intellectual boundaries and challenge creativity. Every teacher I have encountered in my life has contributed to my knowledge and information database in some way, but those who offer the right amount of discipline and care have lingered with me the longest.
From time to time, TCM will air The Corn is Green. I highly recommend it! In the next two blogs, there will be a deeper focus on instructors and the biographical way in which their lives can be narrated through teaching experiences.