Aarne Tarkas (1923-76) was a prolific screenwriter and director, completing up to five movies per year during his halcyon days in the early 1960s. As usual, the quality of his work varies, but I have nevertheless liked several of his films that I have seen so far: at least Kovanaama (1954), Paksunahka (1958) and Hän varasti elämän (1962) come to mind. The 1960 comedy of errors Opettajatar seikkailee is also a worthy addition to Tarkas' often light but entertaining body of work.
The plot is as silly as they come: an uptight all-girl school teacher Leena Kataja (Leni Katajakoski) stumbles upon a handsome artist Pertti Rinne (Tommi Rinne) who paints her face on a nude portrait, much to her chagrin. She is intent on keeping the painting out of circulation by stealing it from an art gallery, but the aftermath turns out to be more complex than she anticipated, leading Leena to become involved in various misunderstandings featuring a gang of criminals, inept cops and false murder charges among other things.
It has been said that a comedy is only good if it makes you laugh, but luckily Opettajatar seikkailee succeeds decently by such a standard. Katajakoski and Rinne make a great leading couple, especially their antics at a tea party while being chained together belong among the best comedy scenes of Finnish cinema of the golden era. The many supporting characters are very amusing as well, such as the trio of burglars Arska, Eetu and Ville (Leo Jokela, Aarne Laine and Risto Mäkelä) and Tarkas' recurring cop characters Koukku and Ripatti (Uljas Kandolin and Hannes Häyrinen). I might also give a nod to Siiri Angerkoski and Paavo Hukkinen in smaller roles, but I guess I can't really list every funny character in a short review like this. Pirkko Mannola also appears as one of Leena's students, but doesn't get to sing anything this time I wish she did!
Besides the characters, I also enjoyed the jazzy, occasionally almost avant-gardist tones of the score by Jaakko Salo. I feel like I am saying this about every old Finnish movie I watch, but the coastal scenery on artist Rinne's island looks very nice too. My only complaint is that the movie is perhaps just a little bit too long at 93 minutes; some trimming could have tightened the humour into a Finnish comedy classic. But even as it is now, Opettajatar seikkailee is a very entertaining little movie and has a place among the best 1960s comedies of Finland.
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