Moments of Movie Wisdom: Cherishing Good Teachers in ‘Confidentially Connie’ (1953)

Moments of Movie Wisdom: Cherishing Good Teachers in ‘Confidentially Connie’ (1953)

A cropped lobby card for the film “Confidentially Connie” (1953). (MovieStillsDB)

Tiffany Brannan

Tiffany Brannan

3/27/2024

Updated: 3/27/2024

Do you remember who first taught you about our great American tradition of freedom, equality for all, and the liberties we enjoy in this country? Probably not, but, undoubtedly, you owe some gratitude to a schoolteacher.
Unfortunately, teaching is an under-appreciated profession. Most teachers must moonlight or have second careers during their summer breaks to make ends meet. We think that throwing or kicking a ball around is worth a lot more money than educating our children and training the next generation, who will sometime soon be running the country.
Today’s Moment of Movie Wisdom is in “Confidentially Connie” from 1953, starring Van Johnson as Joe Bedloe, Janet Leigh as Connie Bedloe, and Louis Calhern as Opie Bedloe. Joe is a college professor in a small town. He and his wife, Connie, are expecting their first child.

The Story

We see Connie at a medical appointment, where the doctor (Robert Burton) is prescribing vitamins and calcium pills because they can’t afford meat on Joe’s meager salary. When the doctor asks if she doesn’t like meat, she replies, “Next to me, a tiger is a vegetarian! I love meat, but we can’t afford it.”
A lobby card for the film “Confidentially Connie” (1953). (MovieStillsDB)

A lobby card for the film “Confidentially Connie” (1953). (MovieStillsDB)

When she and her friend Phyllis Archibald (Marilyn Erskine), another college professor’s wife, go into the butcher shop, the butcher (Walter Slezak) asks her if she wants some tripe. However, when she sees some delicious-looking, thick lamb chops, she asks for four of them. Phyllis asks her how she will afford it, to which she replies, “I’ll use my cigarette money.” Her friend decides to do the same thing.
That night at dinner, when they are about to eat the lamb, Joe asks Connie how she could afford it; she tells him she gave up cigarettes. He is so disheartened that his wife can’t afford meat on his salary that he begins to consider going back to the very large, successful ranch in Texas owned by his father, Opie. Connie tells him that she loves being married to a professor but encourages him to try and get the recently opened position at the college which would provide a better salary. She tells him they need the extra money for their soon-to-be-born baby. He says he will try, even though buttering up the dean is not his style.

The Scene

One day, Opie arrives unexpectedly at their front door, and Connie is delighted to meet him. He has come on the mission to bring Joe back to the ranch to help him run it. Joe is very suspicious, but Connie and Opie become fast friends.
After being fed fish for dinner and watching Connie take her pills at Joe’s urging, Opie is very concerned to learn that she’s expecting his first grandchild. He tells her that Joe’s mother ate three steaks a day when she was expecting him, and he was a strapping 11-pound, 4-oz. baby! Connie says that the pills are good, too, but Opie insists she needs meat, saying, “You can’t have no good baby eating pills and fish. ... There is nothing as good as meat! Nothing in all this world!”
That night, Opie has a terrible nightmare about Connie’s giving birth to a fish and a bottle of pills. He decides to take matters into his own hands, even though he knows Joe would resent his interference. He goes down to the local butcher and tells him to slash his meat prices so Connie can stock up by buying a freezer. However, when the other wives find out about it, a price war ensues among the butchers in town.
A cropped lobby card for the film “Confidentially Connie” (1953). (MovieStillsDB)

A cropped lobby card for the film “Confidentially Connie” (1953). (MovieStillsDB)

Its Significance

This scene in question comes 32 minutes into this 71-minute movie. Opie tells Joe he is begging him to come back to the ranch, but Joe declares he is a teacher, and he intends to stay a teacher. He gives an impassioned speech about the importance of teaching, saying, “Listen, Pa, every 30 years, there is another generation of Americans. A whole new nation. A hundred-and-sixty million new people. What’s to guarantee that they’re Americans? Why don’t they just turn into a hundred-and-sixty-million people with powerful airplanes and big bombs and an itch to rule the world? I’ll tell you why—because they’ve got a heritage. They’ve got a Constitution and a Bill of Rights and a Declaration of Independence and a tradition of fair play! And how do they know it? Because the teachers of America tell it to them; not only tell it to them but sell it to them!”
“Alright now, hold on, boy! There’s no need to get so riled!” Opie reasons. “But there is a need, Pa, there’s a crying need!” Joe interrupts. “Something’s got to be done for the teachers!” “Sure, boy, sure.” Opie tries to interject, but Joe continues, “Why doesn’t anybody care about the teachers’ salaries? Why are people willing to trust their children’s minds and souls to someone who earns a good deal less than the man who fixes their television set?” When Joe realizes his father doesn’t get his point, he feels and looks defeated. Opie agrees that it is an injustice but doesn’t understand why his son wants to struggle financially when there is a great job and home just waiting for him in Texas.

Changing the Rancher

Opie is so affected when he sees men and women excited about being able to buy steaks, roasts, and lamb chops, that he anonymously donates a $1000 bonus to all of the teachers for the next year. When Joe finds out that his father gave the money, he accuses him of trying to buy his affection. It’s only when he realizes that Opie made the donation when he thought Joe had decided to come back to the ranch that he realizes his father has really changed.
The film ends with Joe and Connie visiting the ranch during summer vacation. When they show Opie his grandson, they tell him that his name is Opie T. Bedloe. He asks for what the T stands, to which Connie replies “T-Bone,” because she ate so many steaks while she was expecting him. The proud grandpa says that he came along just in time, or else his middle name may have been Sardine!
Although there are still some good teachers in this country, I think it might be better for our children at this point in history if many of our teachers became ranchers instead of pushing their immoral, un-American agendas. They couldn’t do too much harm to the cattle!
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Tiffany Brannan

Tiffany Brannan

Author

Tiffany Brannan is a 22-year-old opera singer, Hollywood historian, vintage fashion enthusiast, and conspiracy film critic, advocating purity, beauty, and tradition on Instagram as @pure_cinema_diva. Her classic film journey started in 2016 when she and her sister started the Pure Entertainment Preservation Society to reform the arts by reinstating the Motion Picture Production Code. She launched Cinballera Entertainment last summer to produce original performances which combine opera, ballet, and old films in historic SoCal venues.

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