Up the Down Staircase (1967)
[Suggesting a teaching method]
Paul Barringer: 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.
Sylvia Barrett: When I finally get the chance, the first few precious minutes to talk to them about something I want them to understand, and I find that I am some kind of enemy... the butt of some enormous joke.
[Lou Martin gives an oral book report]
Lou Martin: My book is...
Sylvia Barrett: [Correcting his grammar] The book you read.
Lou Martin: Yeah. The title is called "MacBeth," by Shakespeare.
Sylvia Barrett: [Correcting his grammar, again] The title 'is.'
Lou Martin: [Finishing her sentence] "... MacBeth."
Sylvia Barrett: Isn't "MacBeth" required reading for last english term?
Lou Martin: I ain't never read it before.
Sylvia Barrett: [Correcting his grammar, again] I' ve never read it.
Lou Martin: Me neither.
Lou Martin: In this book, the author depix...
Sylvia Barrett: [Correcting his grammar, again] "De-picts."
Lou Martin: Depix how this guy, he wants to...
Sylvia Barrett: [Correcting his grammar, and beginning to lose track] : Who.
Lou Martin: Him.
Sylvia Barrett: [Correcting his grammar ,again] He.
Lou Martin: Yeah.
Sylvia Barrett: [Giving up trying to correct him] All right, what is the theme of MacBeth?
Lou Martin: Well, the author narrates this murder.
[Pretending to be strangled to death]
Lou Martin: Uhh! Ugh! Ugh! Uhh! Uhh! Strangling! Uhh Ughh!...
[Class breaks out in laughter, and eventually Miss Barrett does too]
[Defending her inability to treat an abused student]
Nurse Frances Eagen: I give them tea. At least that's something.
Joe Ferone: I've just seen your type before, that's all. There's one every year. "Not living up to your potential," they say. Is that what you were going to say, teach? "Just wanna help you, Joe?" "Just wanna be your friend?" Then they get to feeling very sorry for your about your "environmental factors", and your "low socio-economic level". Till you've just have to tell 'em; "Get your nose outta my environmental factors, will ya? Keep your damn hands off my potential"... and then they turn you in.
[Mr. McHabe notices Miss Barrett walking towards class with a homemade suggestion box]
J.J. McHabe: Oh. Suggestions, Miss Barrett, ahh? I must say you've got guts.
Sylvia Barrett: It's just an idea, Mr. McHabe. It seems to me that if the students have a chance to speak freely without fear of punishment...
J.J. McHabe: Listen, you start running this school with ideas, you'll have riots in your rooms. Fear - That's all they understand.
Sylvia Barrett: 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.
Paul Barringer: They say a writer should stick to what he knows. What nonsense. What did Dickens know about French Revolutions? What did Shakespeare know about Moors in Venice? If he stuck to what he knew, we'd have no Othello, we'd have no Alice in Wonderland, we'd have no Treasure Island. You brats think that I and Miss Barrett stand up there day after day, talking about books, and the writing of books, just for the hell of it? You think it's got nothing to do with YOU? A writer creates a book. And individual creates a life. For a writer to create a masterpiece, he's got to think beyond what he knows. For an individual to create a life, even a half-way decent one, he's gotta go beyond what he knows. Go beyond the poverty, the dope the disease, the degeneracy. Go beyond the oceans to the alps... a magnificent replica of which the board of education has generously donated. Stick with what you think, and that's what you're gonna be stuck with. You may as well get out. Now! All of you... Miss Barrett's class dismissed. All of you dismissed for the rest of your crummy lives. Some of you prefer to leave by the window. I prefer to leave by the door. Punch me out. Will ya, Teach?
Sylvia Barrett: The theme of MacBeth is that too much ambition can lead to ruthless ambition, and end up in disaster. That's what words are for - to be used. Who can tell me what "ruthless" means? Joe?
[Gets no response, decides to ask... ]
Sylvia Barrett: Eddie?
Eddie Williams: Steps all over.
Sylvia Barrett: Use it in a sentence.
Eddie Williams: Steps all over, like white people. I know because I'm colored.