To Sir, With Love (1967) DVDRip (SiRiUs sHaRe).avi
To Sir, With Love (1967).rtf
To Sir, With Love (1967)
Engineer Mark Thackeray arrives to teach a totally undisciplined class at an East End school. Still hoping for a good engineering job, he's hopeful that he won't be there long. He starts implementing his own brand of classroom discipline: forcing the pupils to treat each other with respect. Inevitably he begins getting involved in the students' personal lives, and must avoid the advances of an amorous student while winning over the class tough. What will he decide when the engineering job comes through?
Sidney Poitier ... Mark Thackeray
Christian Roberts ... Denham
Judy Geeson ... Pamela Dare
Suzy Kendall ... Gillian Blanchard
Lulu ... Barbara 'Babs' Pegg (as 'Lulu')
Faith Brook ... Grace Evans
Geoffrey Bayldon ... Weston
Edward Burnham ... Florian
Gareth Robinson ... Tich
Grahame Charles ... Fernman
Fiona Duncan ... Miss Phillips
Patricia Routledge ... Clinty
Adrienne Posta ... Moira Joseph
Ann Bell ... Mrs. Dare
Chris Chittell ... Potter (as Christopher Chittell)
Recorded on a budget of just $640,000, To Sir, With Love was drafted, as with Lilies of the Field, to give Sidney a share of the gross profits to account for his diminished fee. Writer-director Clavell also received the same arrangement, a writer who was chosen for his love of the source material. The rights to the source, an identically-named novel by E. R. Braithwaite, had passed from studio to studio, and been offered to numerous stars before finally getting the green light when in the hands of Columbia President Mike Frankovich.
Poitier noted in his autobiography the similarities in terms of racial issues between America and England. Filmed in London, the picture featured a number of minorities, many of whom, he observed, would be unable to find work outside of the confines of the movie. However, for his time spent with the cast, he was delighted with their company. Sidney played Mark Thackeray, one of his most famous characters, an engineer taking a teaching post as a stopgap between jobs. Eventually the relationship he develops with the students causes him to question his loyalty to the profession.
To Sir, With Love is often frowned upon nowadays due to its sentimentality. While not wholly condemned as a film, it is certainly regarded as the poor relation of Poitier's three 1967 works. This is an unfair assessment of a movie that commits the only crime of having its heart on its sleeve. And, though the late sixties would see an increase in the political situation, To Sir, With Love was the only one of the three Poitier vehicles that year that did not rely upon his colour for its subtext. Instead, a few bigoted remarks were inserted, largely from a fellow teacher (Geoffrey Bayldon as Mr. Weston) than the pupils. Compared to his other overshadowing works that year, direction paled, too, the camera-work at times almost static. However, the scope for Poitier as an actor was broader than in the other '67 roles, and certainly broader than in the 1996 TV sequel. Where there the plot would be propelled largely by one pupil, here multiple characters would be guided through numerous situations over an entire term period. Over the course of the lengthy film the viewer can feel as though they have experienced the timescale too. And who would argue that the sheer amount of silly moves Sidney and Judy Geeson perform in the final ball didn't directly influence Travolta and Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction?
Sidney Poitier's exceptional lead performance anchors this touching film about that special person who changes your life. As the first time teacher to a group of undisciplined British youth, Poitier is in virtually every frame of this picture. It is a role that calls for a high degree of character development, and Poitier meets and expands the challenge by totally inhabiting the character he is playing. I honestly cannot think of any way his performance could be better, and this is a huge compliment for any actor - even one of Mr. Poitier's immense talents.
While not in the same league, the young cast of then-unknowns also perform quite well. Particularly effective of the young cast members is fresh-faced Judy Geeson, who brings unexpected depth to the stereotypical role of the young schoolgirl love-struck over Mr. Poitier (who could blame her). Director/writer/producer James Clavell avoids over-sentimentalization by inject his well-written script with a healthy dose of realism. The film may not be particularly striking, in the visual sense, but Clavell is a perfectly competent film maker, and his love of the material is evident throughout the entire picture.
A perfect classic that instantly mesmerizes. Remade 3x in the 1990s: first as Sister Act2 (1993); followed by Dangerous Minds (1995); and finally as To Sir With Love2 (1996), the made-for-TV sequel with the aging Sidney Poitier. None of these remakes hold a candle to the beaming lighthouse of the original. Based on the genteel ER Braithwaite's own experiences in 1960s England, the screenplay is a primer in social psychology.
Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier in his signature role) is a struggling Elec.Eng. graduate who can't get an engineering job, so he answers an ad for a teacher in the East End (a chronically run down, industrial part) of London. He's a decent man who's nevertheless met the many faces of rejection, of prejudice, of poverty, yet no-one has managed yet to break his spirit-otherwise he couldn't have brought hope to the East Enders the way he clearly did. He's about 30ish, and single. Ha, as he himself observes to his new students, `Marriage is NO way of life for the weak, the selfish, or the insecure.' Amen to that! Spoken like a man I wouldn't mind (exchanging-shhh) for a husband.
Mr Thackeray is a very cluey guy. He quickly realizes that the `razzing' he's getting from his ill-educated, brutish students is courtesy of their need to dominate the system to SUCCESSFULLY cover-up their academic incompetence. Moreover, the push for this always comes from the biggest bully (ie who rules the school), because the b***ard always has enough cunning to realize he can't afford to show any weakness, for fear of getting toppled by his own. Very primitive behaviour, baboons do the same thing!
Anyway, things come to a head 29mins into the movie. Already exhausted after just a few weeks, Mr Thackeray walks into his classroom and instantly smells a foul stench emanating from the smoking stove. `All you boys, OUT! The girls stay where they are!' he barks. He waits till the boys exit, then rounds on the girls: `There are certain things a decent woman keeps private; only a filthy slut would have done this! And those who stood by and encouraged her are just as bad, I don't care who they are!' He thinks it was a girl who threw a soiled sanitary pad onto the fire (this is never spelled out), but I disagree. Girls don't have ANY fascination for such things, only immature, brutish boys do. My point being, that, of course, it was the boys; but the accusation was extremely effective against the girls nevertheless, because it instantly drove a wedge between the genders. The girls didn't appreciate being humiliated by the boys in the first place, but to be accused of their guilt was now BEYOND what they're prepared to tolerate.
That was the watershed for `Sir'. By the time he re-enters after having demanded they clear the air, he's figured out how he should treat his students, and demonstrates his seriousness as he just junks all their textbooks. Obviously, it's the right technique at the right time, because it starts to work (they don't always). His students begin to trust him; especially the girls who have found their independence from the boys. Soon the class goes on a field trip to the museum. Matched to Lulu's glorious almost-lullaby of a theme song, we watch a montage of heart-tugging stills (by Laurie Ridley & Dennis Stone) of the students wide-eyedly enjoying their first museum experience, as they realize that their mod hairstyles and fashions really are just retreads from history.
There IS another watershed scene that seems to shock all the kids, in the yard, when Denham (Christian Roberts)'s girlfriend Pamela Dare (Judy Geeson) rounds on Seales (Anthony Villaroel), the only black student in the class, for `never speaking up'; who then publicly admits `I'm not Sir. I only wish I was'. It was what they were all thinking about themselves, but Seales is the only one who blurts it out.
The politics between Denham and his girlfriend shift again, because she develops a probably life-altering crush on Sir. I always smirk at the scene where Babs (Lulu) defends Pamela: `You lay off, Denham, you sonova b_' as her voice is drowned out by a passing train. It must be in large part due to this movie that people now GROAN at objections to interracial relationships (so do I-to objections I mean), and no wonder-Sir is `big, broad, handsome, clean, intelligent...', as the Deputy Head, Mrs Evans (Faith Brook) describes him. Poitier is never better than in the scene with Mrs Evans where he is tortured and at a loss at Pamela's crush. His other delicious scenes include being embarrassed at the bawdy candor of some mothers on the bus during the opening, and at the final dance when he gets tongue-tied and almost bursts out crying. I have no doubt that the entire cast had a deep camaraderie.
Sir is NOT PERFECT, though. Some of his attitudes are unjust. He's too aloof as he kept whitewashing the world's continued right to chronically disadvantage his students. He refuses to discuss questions of justice external to his classroom. This seems like insensitivity to me! But he'd apparently put in enough work to have his students trust him, although it was a fine line that could've still gone wrong. Denham, the brewing storm, to our astonishment, actually feared the power that teachers had over his employment prospects. Perhaps he figured he shouldn't really antagonize Sir, who at that stage still tolerated Denham's brinkmanship.
One final WARNING: the cinematography just might blow you away as you watch stills of Sir's students flash by, interrupting a decision he has to make. `So long as we learn, it doesn't matter WHO teaches us, does it?', remarked a colleague in the teachers' lounge when he first started. If you can stand this scene without it almost breaking your heart, then perhaps you've learned that lesson a long time ago. 10/10.
* The film was held from release for more than a year until Columbia Pictures decided to open it in Westwood, California in the summer of 1967 where it really broke through.
* The film did so unexpectedly well in America that Columbia Pictures did market research to find out why so many people had gone to it. Their answer: Sidney Poitier.
* The London bus that appears in several sequences at the start of the film, LLU 829, and in some later sequences, still survives today as a preserved vintage vehicle, and can be seen at the East Anglia Transport Museum, Carlton Colville, Lowestoft, England.
* Judy Geeson and Lulu were both reunited with Sidney Poitier in the TV sequel To Sir, with Love II (1996) (TV) directed by Peter Bogdanovich