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 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
Simple words that could start a war.
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Did You Know?
Film debut of Bud Cort
, in an uncredited walk-on role as a student. He is seen at the tail end of the film, chewing gum and tossing a book in the air as he passes by Sandy Dennis in the school hallway. 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
[Suggesting a teaching method
Ever tried "punctuation sex", Henrietta? Hyphens are kisses, commas are maybes, and a period is a definite no. And then of course, there's the... limitless realms of semicolons and apostrophes. I shudder to think what an exclamation point might mean.
Referenced in The Acid Eaters