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Blackboard Jungle (1955)

Approved | | Crime, Drama | 25 March 1955 (USA)
Trailer
2:52 | Trailer
A new English teacher at a violent, unruly inner-city school is determined to do his job, despite resistance from both students and faculty.

Director:

Richard Brooks

Writers:

Richard Brooks (screenplay), Evan Hunter (novel)
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Glenn Ford ... Richard Dadier
Anne Francis ... Anne Dadier
Louis Calhern ... Jim Murdock
Margaret Hayes ... Lois Judby Hammond
John Hoyt ... Mr. Warneke
Richard Kiley ... Joshua Y. Edwards
Emile Meyer ... Mr. Halloran
Warner Anderson ... Dr. Bradley
Basil Ruysdael ... Prof. A.R. Kraal
Sidney Poitier ... Gregory W. Miller
Vic Morrow ... Artie West
Dan Terranova ... Belazi
Rafael Campos ... Pete V. Morales
Paul Mazursky ... Emmanuel Stoker
Horace McMahon ... Detective
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Storyline

War veteran Rick Dadier is one of three new teachers hired at North Manual High School, an inner city boys school. This is his first teaching assignment, which he needs to support himself and his insecure pregnant wife, Anne. Despite Principle Warnecke's assertions to the contrary, Dadier quickly learns that the rumors of student discipline problems at the school are indeed true. The established teachers at the school try to counsel the newcomers, all inexperienced in such situations, as how best to handle the rowdy students. Regardless, Dadier tries to exert discipline in his class, which provokes a violent response. Dadier believes the student leaders against him are Artie West, but more specifically Gregory Miller, who he thinks uses the fact of being black as a means of racial provocation. Dadier has to decide either to leave and teach at a "real" school, or stay and figure out how to get through to his students. If he decides to stay, he has to figure out who the real disruptive ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

SHOCKING! (original print ad - all caps) See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 March 1955 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Blackboard Jungle See more »

Filming Locations:

El Segundo, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,168,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the 400 movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies. See more »

Goofs

As Professor Kraal escorts Dadier through the suburban school, the sound of students singing the national anthem is heard in the distance, louder in each succeeding scene, missing no verses. Kraal and Dadier are eventually shown ending their tour in the school auditorium, where they've joined the students in singing the anthem's final verse. However, in order for the two men to be present during the assembly while the students were still singing the anthem, the students would have to have sung the anthem over and over again for the entire time it took for the two men to tour the school. See more »

Quotes

Richard Dadier: Say now, that wasn't true, what you said about teachers. Some of us do care, you know?
See more »

Crazy Credits

"We, in the United States, are fortunate to have a school system that is a tribute to our communities and to our faith in American youth. Today we are concerned with juvenile delinquency -- its causes -- and its effects. We are especially concerned when this delinquency boils over into our schools. The scenes and incidents depicted here are fictional. However, we believe that public awareness is a first step toward a remedy for any problem. Is is in this spirit and with this faith that BLACKBOARD JUNGLE was produced." See more »

Alternate Versions

The film was originally rejected in the UK for containing "unbridled, revolting hooliganism" and having a "damaging and harmful effect (on teenagers)". Following protests from the distributor, it was viewed again but there was an even split between examiners in favor of banning it again or cutting it for an X (16) certificate. After further meetings where the distributor claimed it had a sincere moral purpose, a cuts list was drawn up which removed around five minutes of footage. This included the following:
  • The foreword which absolved the US of blame regarding its realistic depiction - this was added specifically for foreign releases following the huge controversy it caused back home. It reads: "We, in the United States, are fortunate to have a school system that is a tribute to our communities and to our faith in American youth. Today we are concerned with juvenile delinquency -- its causes -- and its effects. We are especially concerned when this delinquency boils over into our schools. The scenes and incidents depicted here are fictional. However, we believe that public awareness is a first step toward a remedy for any problem. It is in this spirit and with this faith that BLACKBOARD JUNGLE was produced."
  • Male pupils leering at women.
  • A boy assaulting a female teacher.
  • Dadier being attacked.
  • Dadier being threatened by a knife-wielding pupil.
  • The planning and execution of a van robbery.
  • Dadier fighting back against a pupil.
Despite the heated conflict involving the BBFC and mixed reviews, the release of this X-rated cut version passed without incident and very little public feedback. No councils who viewed it chose to ban it. In 1996, it was submitted for a video release and passed uncut with a 12 certificate. See more »


Soundtracks

Rock Around the Clock
Written by James E. Myers (uncredited) and Max Freedman (uncredited)
Played by Bill Haley and the Comets (as Bill Haley and His Comets)
Courtesy of Decca Records, Inc.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Rebel with a Cause
2 July 2009 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

Blackboard Jungle (1955)

There is so much intensity and visual punch to this socially concerned schoolhouse narrative, it's hard to not overlook the pushiness of some of the plot and the blatant stereotyping of most of the characters. Glen Ford is, in fact, truly commanding here, and he becomes the movie. Most of the rest, really all the rest, are supporting roles, and not all of them do him credit. And this comes not from lack of talent, but from a script that has too many little agendas at work. Hey, but they are important and interesting agendas, so fear not. It's exciting going every step of the way.

Even young Sydney Poitier, for all his charm and ease on screen, is forced into a role, as a reluctant but talented student, that makes him a two-dimensional, and his relationship with Ford is pushed on us at the expense of the others. Some of the other teachers are convincing in their own ways, most of all Louis Calhern as a grumpy and jaded older teacher who expects the worst and gets it. There are moments of high drama that work--mostly violence or the avoidance of violence--and there are moments too contrived and too foreshadowed to contribute very much. The female teacher is set up to tempt the determined Ford main character, and she plays out in expected ways.

It might be a testament, actually, that the movie grabs you and won't let go even with these storytelling flaws. For one thing, it looks great (with photography by Russell Harlan) and is edited crisply, so technically it soars (and in a vivid widescreen black and white, not 4:3 like IMDb says). The director, Richard Brooks, clearly makes the most of the material. His career has left us a number of almost great movies, and this might be his greatest. It seems to have had the most impact in its time, sparking violence in the theaters where it was shown. And by using "Rock Around the Clock" it helped make Bill Halley and Comets and white rock and roll hugely popular.

But as just a movie, on the screen, it is Ford who takes on the subtle turmoils going on in his character's head, and you read it in his face and his stiff body language, and you believe him.


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