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Graham Weir is an alcoholic schoolteacher whose criminal record for refusing to fight during the Second World War has prevented him from progressing further in his teaching career. He is looked upon with disdain by his headmaster, his pupils and even his wife. The one person who appreciates his shyness and warmth is one of his pupils, Shirley Taylor. After Weir offers to give her free private tuition, the pupil slowly falls in love with her teacher. She treats this as an obsession that can never be fulfilled but in her frustration and naivety, she reveals her true feelings for Weir and offers to sleep with him. Weir gently refuses and intends to forget about the episode but a new problem surfaces in his life when Taylor accuses him of indecent assault. Written by
David Claydon <email@example.com>
At this point in his career Laurence Olivier was doing rather more stage work than film. Term Of Trial came between Spartacus and Bunny Lake Is Missing and those two other films were five years apart. This film according to the Citadel Films Series Book on the Films Of Laurence Olivier was one strictly for the money as he was acquiring a new wife and family at the time.
This film ought really to be seen back to back with To Sir With Love. Olivier is the same kind of inner city school teacher that Sidney Poitier was, but hardly as charismatic. This man he portrays, Graham Weir, maybe the saddest character Olivier ever played. He was a pacifist during World War II and went to prison for his beliefs and his employment opportunities are limited. Olivier can't get into the really good schools to teach and he's not advancing in this job. But on that side of the pond as well as here, good teachers are hard to find for inner city schools. The Sidney Poitiers don't come along every day. And Olivier is also a functioning alcoholic.
Olivier is also married to former bar maid Simone Signoret who is about as supportive to him as Peg Bundy is to Al. One of his adolescent pupils finds him attractive because he shows he cares more about her than the parents she has. On a school trip to Paris, young Sarah Miles makes a move on him and when he rejects her, she goes to the police and Olivier finds himself in the dock at Old Bailey.
This film was the debut film of Sarah Miles and Terrence Stamp who plays a young tough who Miles rebounds to after Olivier rejects her. Simone Signoret's scenes are few, but they really count though in terms of the plot for the life of me I can't see how she ever hooked up with Olivier. She's quite the lowlife.
One of my favorite character actors Hugh Griffith is also here as Olivier's lawyer. He has a beautifully played cross examination scene with Miles as he rips her to shreds. And matching Simone in the slattern department is Thora Hird as Miles's mother who is a real piece of work.
Although this will never be listed at the top as one of Laurence Olivier's best work. Olivier and the rest of the cast provide some good moments.
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