The Alcoholic Tenured Professor Stereotype on Film: Doctor Detroit
For anyone who assumes that all professor-oriented films are twee affairs that feature pompous characters exploring their navels, Post Academic gives you “Doctor Detroit.” No other film rivals it. It is basically a comic book in which a comp-lit professor leads a multicultural hooker posse. Sorry to spoil the ending for you, but the professor gets the money and the girl (uh, make that girls). For that reason, it deserves far more love and attention than it currently receives.
Meet the Professor: Clifford Skridlow (Dan Aykroyd), comparative literature, Monroe College
Hot Pepper Rating: Depends on how you feel about Dan Aykroyd.
Likelihood of Having an Undergrad Piece on the Side: This movie is about sex and money. Yet there is no undergraduate fraternization to speak of.
Boozing and Drugging Quotient: The only way to transform Professor Skridlow is to get him higher than a kite, and he is more than appreciative.
Mental Condition: As this is such a broad ’80s comedy, the characters have very few nuances or concerns other than escaping the clutches of a nefarious crime queen.
Financial Fakery: In this field, “Doctor Detroit” is more subersive than any other film in the professor genre. Skridlow lives with his parents, and his father is the president of the college. The thought of a comp-lit prof having to camp with parents isn’t all that outlandish, and this flick was made in the 1983.
Plus, the college in question is broke, and Skridlow’s father is desperate to obtain an endowment check from a tycoon. This may be the only movie in the “horndog” series that foreshadows the current month-by-month condition of higher education. And it is definitely the only movie in the “horndog” series that equates college fundraising with pimping.
Teaching Talent: Skirdlow does indeed appear in the classroom and wax eloquent on King Arthur. He also makes frequent references to the greats, like Don Quixote, lest the audience forget that he is a professor of literature. The members of his multicultural hooker posse, however, are more conscientious about grading papers than he is.
Quotations: 1. “I’m a full assistant professor now!”
2. On free food at a faculty party: “These people are in academia! Free food is like honey to a bear to these people!”
3. Hooker 1: “What should I do about these papers?”
Hooker 2: “Give ’em all a B. That’s what they deserve, anyway.”
Conclusion: So it isn’t a drama. So it’s silly. So it is wildly offensive to modern sensibilities. But professor as pimp? Professor as metal-handed badass? Professors in lime-green pants instead of tweed? The writers of this movie thought big. And its soundtrack–which features Devo and James Brown–kicks the ass of any other film in this genre.