In the back country of South Africa, black minister Stephen Kumalo (Canada Lee) journeys to the city to search for his missing son, only to find his people living in squalor and his son a ... 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
"Blackboard Jungle" marked a turn around in films coming from Hollywood. This was a film that dealt with a reality that movies had not dared to touch before in the way they always wanted to sugar coat every picture about teens in high school. The guys one sees here are the real thing, as though taken from any high school in the inner city of that time.
The amazing thing this high school, at the center of the action, is not typical of any other schools in that one males attended and no females are to be seen around them. By making an old male high school, Richard Brooks updated Evan Hunter's novel to show the violent nature of most of those young men that are clearly from under privileged homes, perhaps, boys whose fathers had bolted and left their women to bring up the sons they didn't want to have anything with.
The film is important in that it marked the arrival of a strong actor that would dominate the movies like no other one, Sidney Poitier. With his handsome looks, and his great screen presence, Mr. Poitier was instrumental in breaking into the main stream movies in ways others tried, but didn't make a dent. Perhaps it was in the cards that Hollywood began dealing with a reality they tried to ignore integrating their stories with Blacks that had taken a back seat to other, not so talented performers.
The film works because of the strong performances by Glenn Ford, Vic Morrow and Sidney Poitier. Also, the theme song of the film, "Rock Around the Clock" went to become an anthem for viewers that filled the theaters for the thrill of hearing it play as the film started, putting them in the right frame of mind to accept what they were going to see.
Richard Brooks is the one responsible for the adaptation and the inspired direction for the movie that still resonates because of its raw energy.
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