Movie Review: 'Learning Curve'

by Rich Brooks

24 March 2004

How would you like to see a movie where a bunch of foul-mouthed, insolent, spoiled high school brats were drugged by their teacher and taken to a remote Texas wilderness, whereupon they were then stripped naked and thrown into electrically charged circus animal cages? I thought so, which is probably why most of you will like director/screenwriter Andy Anderson's 2003 release "Learning Curve."

The background information on "Learning Curve" is somewhat sketchy, although it was apparently first released in 1998 under the title "Detention." According to the director, there was another film by that title, and thus he made the change. It's still very confusing, however, because there is another run-of-the-mill crime movie named "The Learning Curve" which came out in 2001 and received much wider distribution. This "Learning Curve" is anything but run-of-the-mill Hymiewood fare, however. It is not even a Hymiewood production, since it was made in Texas by independent (and presumably gentile) filmmakers. Director Anderson, judging from the short amount of DVD commentary I listened to, is a modest and soft-spoken gentleman, the complete antithesis of a typical Hollywood jew.

John S. Davies plays substitute teacher Bill Walmsley, a middle-aged man with a mysterious and evidently troubled past. We sense that he is not completely stable mentally, but nonetheless he is called upon to take over a class of unrepentant juvenile delinquents in a "detention" room. It turns out that the regular teacher has had a fatal heart attack, so this becomes more than a temporary assignment. The politically correct school administrators just want someone who will maintain some semblance of order in that classroom ("just keep the students from killing each other," is how the principal put it), but Mr. Walmsley takes his job as a teacher much more seriously and doesn't mind stepping on a few toes and ruffling a few feathers in the process. Davis reminds one a little of Charles Bronson in both physical appearance and the tough, no-nonsense attitude he lends to this role.

The students in this suburban Dallas school (Donner High School!) are, with one exception, all White. At first I thought to myself, "Oh how typically Hollywood PC for a movie to make all these troublemakers White," but changed my mind after seeing the entire film. Mr. Walmsley is obsessed with drilling some knowledge into these miscreants precisely because he sees in them a high potential based on their innate intelligence. "The world is tough, but it's a lot tougher if you're stupid," he tells these students. I would have been really upset if a film depicted niggers that way. There was one latrino/nigger of indeterminate mud mixture, but Walmsley at one point told him he was "affirmative action gone nuts."

There is a dark tone to this movie, and at times we are led to believe from some of the music and imagery that we are watching a horror flick unfold. The circus is often used as a backdrop for these kinds of movies, and Walmsley, it turns out, comes from an old circus family who had seen better days. There is a foreboding sense throughout the film that this story will end in some catastrophic way. I really don't want give away too much of the plot, however, so I won't say much more about that.

Anyway, Mr. Walmsley hatches a plot to kidnap six of his most troublesome students along with his one "teacher's pet" Joey. He sends out letters about a fake government "Push Start Program" and has parents and school administrators convinced that these students will be attending a scholarship program for "disadvantaged youngsters" in Washington, D.C. It helps considerably that he has managed to get himself a part-time job as a school bus driver in addition to his substitute teaching duties. It is Mr. Walmsley who is driving the school bus to the airport the day they are scheduled to depart. Instead, he feeds them "breakfast" laced with drugs and drives them to his family's old deserted circus headquarters in the remote mountains of Alpine, Texas. (Yes, there actually is an "Alpine, Texas." I looked it up on the map.) Here we have the tiger cages and the forced "learning curve." His teaching method, he at one point says, is a mixture of Skinner and Pavlov. Extreme, and yes, a little bit creepy. Davies gives a masterful performance by showing a hardheaded intelligence combined with just a hint of mental instability.

The other major player in this drama is the art teacher played by Marsha Dietlein. She is at one point sexually assaulted at gunpoint by a student, but is saved when Walmsley comes along and thwarts that rape attempt. She also gets her tires slashed and is beaten up by the assailant's girlfriend, but in spite of her victimhood it is she who gets sued by the guilty student's parents. Her only witness is Walmsley, and suddenly he has disappeared. This leads her on a search that ultimately unravels some of the mystery.

Lawyers, school administrators and parents deservedly get blamed for many of the ills of our rotten public schools, and there are a few politically incorrect potshots taken as well as some funny caricatures drawn. The film misses the mark only when it tries to blame Christians for banning textbooks rather than properly denouncing the Semitically Correct and watered down content of the books themselves. All in all, however, the overall political message is one basically compatible with a White Nationalist perspective on our educational system. There is one very good exchange where the art teacher accuses Walmsley of "brainwashing" the students with his teaching methods. Walmsley replies, something to the effect that "It's all brainwashing. The only question is who gets to do it -- lawyers, or mothers, churches or politicians or bureaucrats? Who do you think should be responsible?" Of course he might have added "jews," but this would be too much to expect even from a non-Hymiewood filmmaker.

"Learning Curve" was a low-budget film, and sometimes this shows. Outside of the leading actors, many of the performances are less than polished, although the role of the worst wiseass kid is well cast. Overall, these "students" appear older and more worldly than most high school pupils, but maybe I'm naive and not up to date about what's really going on in our schools today. However, the script avoids clichés and the acting is good enough not to elicit the unintended laughter movies of this genre often do. The film works on several levels, as social commentary but also as a mystery and even at times as a comedy. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw this film, and I think most VNN and WhiteAlert readers will be too. Just be sure you pick up the correct "Learning Curve" (not "The Learning Curve") when you go to the video store.



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