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Gerald S. O'Loughlin
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? Written by
Ed Sutton <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Heart-warming classroom drama with a great sound-track.
Novice teacher, Mark Thackeray, arrives at a secondary school in a depressed area of London's East End and transforms a class of jeuvenile delinquents into a group of responsible, mature and caring young people, confounding his critics amongst the jaundiced teaching staff.
From the very beginning, members of the class try to bait him into losing his temper so that he'll quit. Their previous teacher committed suicide, we are told. Gradually, he gains their trust and helps them overcome their personal struggles, thus winning their respect and friendship.
Its a slice of sixties social idealism that may appear dated and oversentimental to some, but it loses none of its sincerity or good intentions. The book by E.R. Braithwaite was based on his own real life experiences in the 1950's. Once again, James Clavell displays his winning touch with the screenplay and direction. The role of Thackeray had strong appeal to Sidney Poitiers for its portrayal of African-American characters as responsible role-models, a theme common to many of his films. There is a notable screen debut for Judy Geeson who went onto become one of the most fashionable jeuvenile actresses of the late 1960's. With a schoolgirl crush, she competes with beautiful teacher Suzy Kendall for the attentions of Thackeray.
The films sound-track provides good material for another debutante, Lulu, who sings the main title. It went onto become the top-selling record in the U.S. for 1967, but inexplicably, was never released in the U.K. as a single. The lyrics are provided by the highly talented Don Black who had also written the themes to 'Born Free' and 'The Italian Job' as well as collaborating with John Barry on three of the James Bond Films of that period. The backing group are The Mindbenders who provide the school band sound. They had a U.K. No.2 in the charts at the time with 'A Groovy Kind of Love' and in collaboration with Wayne Fontana, a U.S. No.1 with 'Game of Love' the previous year.
The recently released DVD provides a good quality print of this thoroughly enjoyable film and is well worth viewing. I give it ten out of ten.
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