Blu-ray Review: Good Luck Miss Wyckoff



Remember when Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola would go on AMC pleading for people to donate to film restoration efforts? They would go on about how silent films were vanishing as the nitrate film fell apart. The duo emphasized how badly we needed to preserve our cinematic legacy. Well the sad truth is that you don’t need to go all the way back to 1915 to uncover movies that have been forgotten and are at risk of vanishing. There are hundreds of movies from the ’70s and ’80s that studio executives wish would crumble into dust and blow into the desert. They never get aired on TV. Forget a DVD release, these were titles that might not have been released on VHS or Beta. Many of them are quite embarrassing productions that the programmers at Turner Music Classics and THIS TV would be mortified to air. A few of these nearly lost films deserve a second chance at exposure. However too many of the big studios don’t have the time or patience to revive an obscure title from the deepest bowels of the vault. Even a film that was independently distributed can find itself slipping away in the memories of the few that saw it in the theater. It’s up to people willing to champion these films and put out home videos worthy of a fresh audience’s attention. Good Luck Miss Wyckoff could have easily vanished yet the fine folks at Vinegar Syndrome revived it with a lovingly created Blu-ray that includes a DVD and the soundtrack on CD.

Anne Heywood (The Fox) is a prim and proper college teacher in Kansas, 1956. She has lived her life doing the best to be a model citizen. But she’s starting to get too emotional in public and depressed in private. What’s wrong with her? Her doctor’s (Robert Vaughn) diagnosis is early onset menopause. At 35, she’s still a virgin. He warns her that it’s a case of if you don’t use it, you lose it. She needs help to overcome her fear of sex so Dr. Vaughn sets her off to see a shrink in Wichita. Dr. Steiner (Donald Pleasance) is a specialist when it comes to sexuality. He wants her to open up even though he still gives that creepy Donald Pleasance face as he gets her to talk about sex. She seems on the road to recovery. She even finds a prospective lover in Earl Holliman (from Police Woman). But then things go for a twist with the arrival Rafe (John Lafayette). He’s a black student who, as part of his football scholarship, has to work as a janitor at night. He senses that Miss Wyckoff wants what she can’t ask for. This is not your usual teacher and adult student romance that turns into the student being the teacher. Rafe is an attacker. Miss Wyckoff’s reaction to a sadistic situation is frightening.

Good Luck Miss Wyckoff can easily be dismissed as a exploitation film eager to attract the crowd that loved Mandingo. The sexuality is harsh without sympathy. You may be majorly horrified during the scene where their relationship is exposed. This is a woman eager to be punished for giving into her carnal desires. There’s plenty of real talent behind this tale of forbidden love in middle America. The cast and crew isn’t the usual b-movie crowd with carny aspirations. This is a classy production with familiar faces and notable creative credentials. The movie is based on William Inge’s first novel. His script for Splendor in the Grass won the Oscar. Polly Platt (writer of Pretty Baby) translated the book to the screen. Director Marvin J. Chomsky had changed the face of TV miniseries with his work on Roots and Holocaust. The other teachers included Carolyn Jones (The Addams Family), Ronee Blakley (Nashville), Dorothy Malone (Written on the Wind) and Doris Roberts (Everybody Loves Raymond). Jones delivers a knock out performance as a racist teacher. She has venom in her prudish way. When she drops the N Word, Tarantino must wince.

Vinegar Syndrome must be applauded for releasing such a cringeworthy masterpiece. Good Luck Miss Wyckoff could have easily been allowed to vanish from screen and only remembered in tattered copies of Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide. Instead they’ve created a crisp new high definition transfer so that viewers can truly taken in the ill fated sexual journey of a school teacher. This is film restoration worthy of getting behind.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The high definition transfer brings out how the cinematography crew in the late ’70s gave it the feel of the mid-50s.

DVD
has the movie along with the bonus features.

CD of the soundtrack.

The Sin (80 minutes) is a recut for the re-issue that also didn’t catch on with the public. This is on the DVD.

Shirley Knight (6:39) recounts her encounters with William Inge. The two time Oscar nominee isn’t in Good Luck, but was part of the William Inge festival. She provides plenty of good background on the writer.

Still Gallery (0:55) are the publicity photos taken on location. There’s also a few pages from the press kit.

Theatrical Trailers (5:27) has an extremely long trailer that doesn’t spoil the film. The second is for The Sin recut. The focus is “How long can a woman remain a virgin.”

Television Spots (2:05) focuses on Miss Wyckoff flipping out. The third of the three ads is the retitled The Sin.

Good Luck Miss Wyckoff will scare you more than Fifty Shades of Grey with its messed up blending of sex and violence. The film goes beyond the innocent ’50s romantic comedies. This is a fantastic cinematic revival.

Vinegar Syndrome presents Good Luck Miss Wyckoff. Directed by: Marvin J. Chomsky. Starring: Anne Heywood, Donald Pleasence, Robert Vaughn, Earl Holliman and Carolyn Jones. Running Time: 106 minutes. Released: August 13, 2013.

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