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Peter Gifford is a likable, dedicated schoolteacher that teaches a senior life skills class. When student Janet Sommers brings up the topic of sex and dating, he asks students to write questions on the topic, and will cover them in the next class. The parents get wind of what Gifford is about to do, notify the principal, and he warns Peter not to read the questions in class. Gifford decides to go against this and is suspended. The whole student body protests, and the administration gets worried on what to do. Written by
Progressive teacher Peter Gifford (William Shatner) allows the students in his class to write essays about anything they want. Most write about sex and their feelings about it. One student tells her mother, other parents find out, go crazy about their kids talking about sex in school (this WAS 1961) and order the principal (Edward Platt!!!) to fire Gifford. He does but the students led by Bobby (Billy Grey), Dan (Lee Kinsolving) and Janet (Patricia McCormack) decide to fight back. But will they win?
This film is laughably dated but still is not bad at all. The kids naivety is actually pretty interesting and the parents overreaction is convincing. This could have become a camp classic but competence at every level makes it work. The acting is pretty good--this is before Shatner became full of himself and it's amusing to see McCormack all grown up from "The Bad Seed". However Billy Grey is TERRIBLE in his role. And look for a young Beau Bridges in a few scenes. It's well-written (and based on a true incident) and I really liked how the students fought back in a non-violent fashion. Also well-directed in stark black & white. It also treats the teenagers (and parents) with respect. The ending was a little TOO goody-goody but still worked.
Worth seeing as a (I think) pretty accurate look at teen life back in 1961. Recommended.
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