Sylvia Barrett is a rookie teacher at New York's inner-city Calvin Coolidge High: her lit classes are overcrowded, a window is broken, there's no chalk, books arrive late. The administration is concerned mainly with forms and rules (there's an up and a down staircase); bells ring at the wrong time. Nevertheless, she tries. How she handles the chaos and her despair in her first semester makes up the film: a promising student drops out, another sleeps through class, a girl with a crush on a male teacher gets suicidal, and a bright but troublesome student misunderstands Sylvia's reaching out. A discussion of Dickens, parents' night, and a mock trial highlight the term. Can she make it? Written by
The first mistake this pretty young teacher made was to get off the bus. The second was to walk into Calvin Coolidge High School for the first time. The third was to fall in love with it.
See more »
Did You Know?
Bel Kaufman, in the Preface to the 25th anniversary edition of the book, writes: "The movie was filmed in New York City, in and around Haaren High School, which had been emptied for the summer." See more
When GO President Kagan is talking to Miss Barrett, his tie keeps changing lengths. In the close-ups it is short, just above his belt. In the long shots is appears to be tucked into his belt. See more
If you deny what you know, or what you are, or where you are, you deny the simplest part of being alive, and then you die.
Referenced in The Acid Eaters