Brick, an alcoholic ex-football player, drinks his days away and resists the affections of his wife, Maggie. His reunion with his father, Big Daddy, who is dying of cancer, jogs a host of memories and revelations for both father and son.
In the Salinas Valley, in and around World War I, Cal Trask feels he must compete against overwhelming odds with his brother Aron for the love of their father Adam. Cal is frustrated at ... See full summary »
War veteran Rick Dadier is one of three new teachers hired at North Manual High School, an inner city boys school. This is his first teaching assignment, which he needs to support himself and his insecure pregnant wife, Anne. Despite Principle Warnecke's assertions to the contrary, Dadier quickly learns that the rumors of student discipline problems at the school are indeed true. The established teachers at the school try to counsel the newcomers, all inexperienced in such situations, as how best to handle the rowdy students. Regardless, Dadier tries to exert discipline in his class, which provokes a violent response. Dadier believes the student leaders against him are Artie West, but more specifically Gregory Miller, who he thinks uses the fact of being black as a means of racial provocation. Dadier has to decide either to leave and teach at a "real" school, or stay and figure out how to get through to his students. If he decides to stay, he has to figure out who the real disruptive ... Written by
When Dadier is talking to Miller in the auto shop, Miller is working on a car. He is using a ratchet. But instead of twisting the ratchet handle, he is holding it still and twisting the socket extension bar with his hands. See more »
Blackboard Jungle is one of the seminal films in Glenn Ford's career. As Richard Dadier, newly minted teacher going into one of the inner city schools in New York City, he's nervous, but full of idealism and commitment that he can make a difference in the lives of these kids.
One of the aspects of Blackboard Jungle that is never discussed is the problem, still very much with us today, of illiteracy. For me the key to the whole story is when Ford has to get down to the level of running a movie cartoon of Jack and the Beanstalk in order to communicate with them. That's when he reaches them and also takes control of the situation in his classroom away from the school thug as graphically portrayed by Vic Morrow.
I was involved with someone for many years and his literacy level was very low. It made him angry and unable to handle the world and all the problems he had in life. He had a worse situation than the kids in The Blackboard Jungle. He was raised in a group home where they didn't care at all if you learned anything.
Blackboard Jungle is also memorable for the use of a previously recorded song by Bill Haley and the Comets that sold a few records the year earlier, but didn't set the world on fire. Director Richard Brooks heard it in young Peter Ford's collection and decided it would be his theme. Rock Around the Clock became a rock and roll institution after The Blackboard Jungle was out in theaters.
Blackboard Jungle also started another less fortunate trend. That of picking very obviously adult actors to play high school kids. A trend that has continued to this day with such shows as Beverly Hills 90210 carrying on the tradition. Capable players that they are and they certainly delivered fine performances, Sidney Poitier and Vic Morrow don't look like high school kids, especially not next to Rafael Campos who was in the correct age bracket when the film was being shot.
Teacher burnout is also covered in Blackboard Jungle with Louis Calhern leading the pack of cynics Glenn Ford has as colleagues. In many ways Blackboard Jungle is the grandfather of a film like Stand and Deliver where Edward James Olmos is the dedicated math teacher of inner city kids a generation later. Other than ethnic, not too much difference between Richard Dadier and Jaime Escalante.
Richard Brooks assembled and directed a cast that made a classic that's still agonizingly relevant today.
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