Paramount's April '05 Releases
Teacher's Pet (May 22/05)
Starring Clark Gable and Doris Day, Teacher's Pet is an overlong but exceedingly enjoyable romance revolving around a seemingly mismatched pair. James Gannon (Gable) is a cynical newspaper man who finds himself falling for a sweet, good-natured journalism teacher named Erica Stone (Day). Because James knows that Erica hates him thanks to his reputation, James pretends to be a wallpaper salesman and starts attending her classes. Romance, not surprisingly, blooms, but it's not long before Erica discovers James' true identity. Though Teacher's Pet is essentially a prototypical romantic comedy (the fake breakup is usually a dead give-away), it's hard not to get wrapped up in this simple, effective little story. It certainly doesn't hurt that Day and Gable have genuine chemistry with one another, despite the fact that Gable is old enough to be Day's father. Gig Young, playing Erica's comedically perfect boyfriend (he's won the Nobel Prize, can dance professionally, and plays a mean bongo), steals every scene he's in, while Gable delivers an expectedly charismatic, hilariously deadpan performance. It's clear that Teacher's Pet would've benefited from the removal of a few needless subplots, though this is a relatively minor complaint for a film that is otherwise breezy and likeable.
Three Violent People (May 17/05)
Three Violent People casts Charlton Heston as Colt Saunders, a Civil War veteran who returns home with a new bride (played by Anne Baxter) only to find himself confronted by a band of ruthless carpetbaggers. This is in addition to the presence of his bitter, one-armed brother, and the creeping realization that his wife's past isn't quite as squeaky clean as he might like. Though James Edward Grant's screenplay occasionally emphasizes unnecessary melodrama, this is otherwise a well-paced, surprisingly gritty little Western - enhanced by an unexpectedly suspenseful third act. Heston delivers a rugged, compelling performance, eschewing over-the-top histrionics in favor of a subtler vibe (unfortunately, the same can't be said of Baxter).
The Winning Season (May 22/05)
Following in the footsteps of Field of Dreams, The Winning Season tells the uplifting story of a young man named Joe Stoshack (played by Mark Rendall in the present and Shawn Hatosy in the past) who finds himself transported back in time to the 1909 World Series after grabbing hold of a magical baseball card. There he meets legendary ballplayer Honus Wagner (Matthew Modine) and his well-to-do girlfriend (played by Kristin Davis). Through a series of expectedly convoluted events, Joe is soon tagging along with Honus and inadvertently changing history for the worse (Ty Cobb, the film's villain, discovers the true power of the Honus card and uses it for his own gain). Though there's nothing terribly innovative or ground-breaking about The Winning Season, it's hard not to get wrapped up in the breezy exploits of Joe and Honus. Aside from the anticipated moments of fish-out-of-water comedy (Joe tells Honus that he's "the man," much to Honus' confusion), this is essentially just a feel-good sports movie. On that level, the movie certainly delivers (though one wonders if Ty Cobb was really that evil).