To Sir, with Love (1967) Poster

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This may be the ultimate movie about a teacher.
lee_eisenberg13 August 2005
As one of the movies (along with "In the Heat of the Night" and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner") that made 1967 Sidney Poitier's annus mirabilis, "To Sir, with Love" shows a man forced to take charge in a less-than-pleasant situation. Poitier plays Mark Thackeray, a Guyanese engineer hired to teach in a high school in a rough London neighborhood. The students not only have little interest in school, but are not quite ready to be taught by a black man. Mark is forced to show the students that he will not tolerate insubordination.

Poitier did great in this role, with good support from the rest of the cast (including Lulu, who sang the theme song). It affirms his status as one of the greatest actors in movie history. And also, I hope that nobody tries to compare this with "Dangerous Minds"; the latter was in my opinion an insult. "To Sir, with Love" was a masterpiece.
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An Underrated Poitier Vehicle
The_Movie_Cat17 October 1999
Recorded on a budget of just $640,000, To Sir, With Love was drafted, as with Lilies of the Field, to give Sidney a share of the gross profits to account for his diminished fee. Writer-director Clavell also received the same arrangement, a writer who was chosen for his love of the source material. The rights to the source, an identically-named novel by E. R. Braithwaite, had passed from studio to studio, and been offered to numerous stars before finally getting the green light when in the hands of Columbia President Mike Frankovich.

Poitier noted in his autobiography the similarities in terms of racial issues between America and England. Filmed in London, the picture featured a number of minorities, many of whom, he observed, would be unable to find work outside of the confines of the movie. However, for his time spent with the cast, he was delighted with their company. Sidney played Mark Thackeray, one of his most famous characters, an engineer taking a teaching post as a stopgap between jobs. Eventually the relationship he develops with the students causes him to question his loyalty to the profession.

To Sir, With Love is often frowned upon nowadays due to its sentimentality. While not wholly condemned as a film, it is certainly regarded as the poor relation of Poitier's three 1967 works. This is an unfair assessment of a movie that commits the only crime of having its heart on its sleeve. And, though the late sixties would see an increase in the political situation, To Sir, With Love was the only one of the three Poitier vehicles that year that did not rely upon his colour for its subtext. Instead, a few bigoted remarks were inserted, largely from a fellow teacher (Geoffrey Bayldon as Mr. Weston) than the pupils. Compared to his other overshadowing works that year, direction paled, too, the camera-work at times almost static. However, the scope for Poitier as an actor was broader than in the other '67 roles, and certainly broader than in the 1996 TV sequel. Where there the plot would be propelled largely by one pupil, here multiple characters would be guided through numerous situations over an entire term period. Over the course of the lengthy film the viewer can feel as though they have experienced the timescale too. And who would argue that the sheer amount of silly moves Sidney and Judy Geeson perform in the final ball didn't directly influence Travolta and Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction?
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A Wonderful Film
perfectbond10 January 2003
Sidney Poitier is absolutely superb in this film about a novice teacher who prepares a class of uncouth youths for adulthood. There are too many wonderful scenes to catalogue in this commentary but among the highlights are: his reaction to the naughty chatter of the ladies on the bus, his coping with the young lady who has a crush on him, and his complicated relationship with the stiffnecked rebel of the class. There are so many positive messages imparted in this film and they come across without being heavy-handed. Highly recommended, 9/10.
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I'm often a tad cynical....but I have a hard time NOT liking this film.
planktonrules16 August 2018
I am different than many of the reviewers in that I taught high school...though the kids weren't quite like those in "To Sir, With Love". And, while the miraculous change in the kids through the course of the film is hard to believe, there is a certain decency and sweetness about the movie that I could not resist.

The story is about Mr. Thackery (Sidney Poitier) and his seemingly impossible job. While he's a trained engineer, he cannot find he decides to become a least until something better comes along. The problem is that he's working with a lot of rough teens--teens who see no future for themselves and who have pretty much given up on amounting to anything. At first, the kids are uncivil...little jerks just biding their time until graduation. However, through the course of the term, his students learn to respect others and themselves...and prove that they might have bright futures.

As I mentioned above, the change in the students is a bit hard to believe if you think about it. But it's still an excellent film....inspiring even. Well worth seeing and filled with some terrific acting, writing and music. And yes, that IS Lulu not only singing the title song but acting as one of Mr. Thackery's students.
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Sidney Poitier's Defining Role
wes-connors15 August 2008
Sidney Poitier (as Mark Thackeray) wants to be an engineer, but finds jobs scarce; so, he takes a job teaching a group of unmanageable East End London secondary (high) school students. The inexperienced Mr. Poitier has no control in the classroom. With only a few weeks before graduation, he decides to teach discipline and respect. Poitier's biggest classroom problem is rebellious youth Christian Roberts (as Denham). He also has to deal with pretty blonde Judy Geeson (as Pamela), who develops a "schoolgirl crush" on her handsome black teacher.

Poitier doesn't seem to be doing much academic teaching; but, with only a few weeks to go, he makes some instinctive, wise decisions. As the students' "newest replacement", he must start with extensive classroom management. Mostly, the students like to dance and smoke cigarettes. But, through the young cast's performances, and their scripted background, you believe they are worse than they appear on film. The film is a simplistic representation.

Poitier's dignified characterization is superb. As "Mr. Thackeray", he handles societal racism with quiet reservation. Thackeray does not verbalize any racial "blame" for his 18-month failure to find an engineering job. He grins sweetly when the ladies on the bus hint about his sexual prowess. He does not respond to the cynical teacher's bait. And, he responds with non-sensual sincerity to the film's interested blondes. More than anything, Thackeray values courtesy, which is evidenced by his first "tantrum".

Thatcher is a man of polite manners, who values respect. He demands the students call him "Sir". Poitier's command for respect works not only with the students, but also with the audience. Poitier cuts through the film, and demands the same respect from the audience.

You call him SIR!

So, the "lesson" achieves the unexpected - both Thackeray and Poitier are successful with their audience. The audience responded by making Poitier a "Box Office" superstar. It was the right message, the right time, and the right man.

Director James Clavell and the Lulu-sung title song are also outstanding. Most movie award organizations favored Poitier's two successive 1967 films. But, "To Sir, with Love" did very well with the "Film Daily" critics: "To Sir, with Love" was the year's #4 Film, and #1 song. Poitier was the #3 "Best Actor" (one better than his "In the Heat of the Night" role), Christian Roberts was "Juvenile Actor" #2, and Judy Geeson won as #1 "Juvenile Actress".

********* To Sir, with Love (6/14/67) James Clavell ~ Sidney Poitier, Christian Roberts, Judy Geeson, Lulu
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"But how can you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume..."
style-231 January 2005
This movie is about many things – teen angst, race relations, and poverty. But what it's *really* about is teased hair, heavy eyeliner and miniskirts. And the title song, of course. Who could ever forget the gushing sentimentality of Lulu warbling about crayons and perfume? It is a charmer of a movie with life breathed into it by a fresh cast of young Brits. Released at a time when the world was captivated by all things British, it was relatively daring at the time it was made. A low-budget film that raked it in at the box office, Poitier, as in *Lilies of the Field*, wisely accepted a low salary in exchange for a share of the profits. But the biggest profit of all is his portrayal of the East End school teacher, Mark Thackery, who quickly learns that his students need a different kind of education than that of a textbook. It has been, unfairly or not, relentlessly compared to *The Blackboard Jungle*, and it is a blood-relation to *Up the Down Staircase* and *Dangerous Minds*. But none of them have the sweetness of Judy Geeson, as Thackery's irrepressible student Pamela Dare. At the end of the movie, when Thackery and Dare dance together, racial, social and philosophical barriers are smashed, and hope springs eternal.
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Great, landmark teacher-student relationship film
thomandybish28 January 2001
The school movie against which all other school movies are measured. Sidney Poitier was on a roll in 1966-67(A PATCH OF BLUE, GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER, IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT)and TO SIR, WITH LOVE crowned that succession of great films. Poitier's Thackery is meticulous and elegant, something of a revelation to the unwashed juvenile deliquents and teen sluts who populate his class. Yet this unemployed engineer has his work cut out for him, as his motley crew will try just about anything(including burning tampons in the classroom stove!)to run him off. Instead of exploding like the kids wish, Thackery takes a different tack; treating them like adults and talking about things they have questions about. The ploy works, and along the way Thackery learns to deal with indifferent fellow teachers, racism, lovestruck female students, and a hard decision that will determine his future . . . A great inspirational movie, TO SIR, WITH LOVE also boasts British songstress Lulu in her first film role, as well as prominent soundtrack artist(The Mindbenders are the others). The process by which Thackery molds these wild, rebellious teens into mature and thoughtful adults--and the teens' resulting respect for Thackery, quite possibly the first respect they've ever felt for an adult--is touching. Definitely a classic film worth seeing.
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One of the Most Touching Movies Ever
claudio_carvalho6 January 2004
Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier) is a black unemployed engineer, born in the English Guyanna and with a simple and humble origin, who accepts to work as a teacher in an English school. Very poor and undisciplined teenagers compose his class and he has lots of difficulties to approach them. In the end, their students consider Mark as their best friend and dedicate him one of the most wonderful songs in the cinema history. Mark finds that his real vocation is being a teacher and gives up the new job as engineer he has just gotten.

The first time I watched "To Sir with Love", I was twelve years old, and I went at least three times to the movie theater to see this movie again and again. On video, I probably have watched it at least fifteen times more and I do not get tired of this marvelous story. This wonderful movie is in my top ten films list ever. It is sentimental, touching, maybe silly in the present days, but it is also a reference for other movies about the relationship between teacher and rebel students. Michelle Pfeiffer's 'Dangerous Minds', for example, is an updated copy of this story. The direction and cast have an outstanding performance. My vote is ten.

Title (Brazil): "Ao Mestre com Carinho" ("To the Master, with Endearment")

Note: On 14 August 2012, I saw this film again.

Note: On 16 October 2020, I saw this film again.
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Touching film; anchored by Poitier's flawless performance
robb_77230 April 2006
Sidney Poitier's exceptional lead performance anchors this touching film about that special person who changes your life. As the first time teacher to a group of undisciplined British youth, Poitier is in virtually every frame of this picture. It is a role that calls for a high degree of character development, and Poitier meets and expands the challenge by totally inhabiting the character he is playing. I honestly cannot think of any way his performance could be better, and this is a huge compliment for any actor - even one of Mr. Poitier's immense talents.

While not in the same league, the young cast of then-unknowns also perform quite well. Particularly effective of the young cast members is fresh-faced Judy Geeson, who brings unexpected depth to the stereotypical role of the young schoolgirl love-struck over Mr. Poitier (who could blame her). Director/writer/producer James Clavell avoids over-sentimentalization by inject his well-written script with a healthy dose of realism. The film may not be particularly striking, in the visual sense, but Clavell is a perfectly competent film maker, and his love of the material is evident throughout the entire picture.
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This IS how it was in the 60's.. how many times do I say that.
PHASEDK29 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Channel Five just showed this film, and I'm so glad. I'm 58 and left school, which was changing as I left it in 1966.. and this film IS how it was at that time. The coloured teacher, well, we had coloured pupils at my school and thought nothing of it. American of course, far more sensitive.. but THIS IS how it was then. We had the young delinquents, looked upon as heroes by the less educated, we had mixed classes and never gave the girls a lot of thought at that age, respect, yes.. and the characters in this film ARE how things were. How many more times am I going to say that. The class rooms, the teaching staff, yes yes and yes again. I'd forgotten a lot of this film, and it captivated me. Its a LOST time.. it was a good, fairly innocent time, pregnancy WAS a no no.. WE didn't do those thing YET.. but girls older than their time came a cropper. WE DID form a relationship with our teachers and one I mer later in my career said the mid 60's WAS the last of the 'family' class feeling. It all changed after that. The system was changing so THIS FILM.. is a lovely reminder of how it was. Judy was ALWAYS gorgeous.. HOW can anyone be that lovely.. it just WORKS. YES WHAT was in this stove.. I didn't get it either. And the end.. WILL HE WONT HE.. hes reminded of the challenges hes already met and conquered.. I cant praise this too highly. 60's London life IS HERE.. Lulu deserved her hit.. and the other young stars DID go forward. WHY didn't all these films of the mid 60's come out?? STILL many not.. WHY NOT.. we NEED the feel good NOW... Smashin Time..Mulberry Bush.. COME ON..
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Dated but still a good movie.
Buskieboy20 November 2005
The first time I had watched TSWL, I was probably about 14, but not from the era the film is from. None the less, I found it fascinating, poignant, funny at times, and warm.

The funny thing is that while the clothes, music and styles may change, the feelings we have are common and do not change much over the years. Kids rebel, test and resist authority, and push the rules. We've all done it in some way or another. I smoked cigs, drank beer and had long hair. Others hung-out with the wrong crowd, drank beer or skipped class.

TSWL as is "The Blackboard Jungle" are dated today, but so are "Class of 1984" and "Stand and Deliver", but they all share the same premise, emotions and struggles. If a movie can convey them honestly, as does "To Sir, with Love", then it deserves recognition. I always like to watch TSWL, it does make you feel good in the long run. Even after all your disobedience at school, most of us grew up and realized the importance of what we had learned and were now sad to leave the memories, friends and teachers.

I think we also realize that we are also leaving a young version of us behind and it's sad to let that childlike version go. It's time to start growing up.
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suzy q12316 May 2001
Rent this movie. Don't read any reviews of it, just go out and rent it.

It's one of the best movies of the last forty years, and Sidney Poitier is just beautiful in it. The movie glows, has a soul even, and actually dares to say something of value. I wish they made more movies like this today! Just a gorgeous movie going experience........
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Heart-warming classroom drama with a great sound-track.
chrisdl_heath18 September 2002
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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Beautiful British Classic
ewgers17 November 2018
Superb movie with strong performances Watch out for Judy Geeson on the dance floor .Wow .Absolutely stunning Really enjoyed this film
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Enough to Restore Your Faith in Human Nature.
rmax30482326 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Sidney Poitier, doing just fine as usual, is a teacher assigned to a rough gang of kids in an Enblish working-class school. They hate him. Not because he's black, though that fact figures in a few off-hand insults, but because he's a toff. He speaks proper English and dresses in suits and ties and he knows stuff -- like the girls' bouffant hair styles are 2,000 years old. He takes them to museums to prove it. He shows them that there's more to a salad than just a couple of leaves of wilted lettuce, which is an advance over the culinary skills of my ex spouse. I once tried to show her how to boil an egg. The resulting scuffle became a scandal but I thought Fox News went a little too far in labeling it "Hard-Boiled-Egg-Gate".

These ructious British kids are user friendly. Not like Poitier's earlier effort, "Blackboard Jungle," where they threw baseballs at the teacher and beat hell out of him in an alley. Here, their English equivalents are just noisy and irreverent. Potier straightens them out in the course of the film. One of the students, the delectable blond Judy Geeson, develops a crush on him, but the suave, knowing, and sympathetic teacher knows how to solve that problem too. "Turn him to any cause of policy, The Gordian Knot of it he will unloose, Familiar as his garter" The film oozes a savory sentimentality. It's like a fairy tale with a happy ending. The best part is that we know the happy ending is coming, so we can allow ourselves an anxiety jag, as if we weren't quite sure. Watching the kids mature under "Sir's" guidance is like attending a religious ritual, a fixed point in a changing and disappointing universe. And what a climax -- with Poitier and the adoring Judy Geeson dancing 1960's style to the theme song.

The theme song, "To Sir, With Love," by I guess Ron Grainer, was a popular tune on the period hit parade. At the time it was just another pop tune. But listening to it today, the inventiveness of the melody, the intricate rhyming lyrics, the purity and clarity of the vocalist's voice -- she seems to have flawless control over her slow vibrato -- it just rouses our awareness of the decline in vernacular music since then, unless you can't get enough of electronic percussion, anger, and rhymes that don't quite rhyme.

Sure, the film is laden with devices that are designed to engage the viewer's emotions. But at least the emotions are among those that have traditionally been considered positive. If it were remade today, I wonder if the students would turn out to be vampires, invade Poitier's home, wrench off his head, and suck the blood out of his neck cavity with straws. God, we've become desensitized to the point of insensibility.
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To Sidney Poitier, With Respect ...
ElMaruecan8210 April 2012
I love "To Sir, With Love" and this applies to both James Clavell's film and Lulu's song. You can't imagine the effect this beautiful melody has on me … making me wish to go 'back' to 1967, 15 years before I was even born.

1967: If one actor ever exemplifies the groundbreaking aspect of this year, it certainly is Sidney Poitier, by starring in three films that paved the way for a new depiction of African- American people: "Guess Who's Coming for Dinner", Best Picture nominee and "In the Heat of the Night", Best Picture Winner; and if not in the same vein, "To Sir, With Love" conveys the same kind of inspirational message through the struggle of a man facing alone a hostile group and ultimately defeating intolerance and prejudices. I will never say that Sidney Poitier plays the 'same character' as a reproach but as a tribute to his talent and his brilliance for never having fallen in the trap of stereotypes, to play elegant, distinguished and soft-spoken middle-aged men. He might not be the most versatile actor in the world, but like such stars as Humphrey Bogart or James Stewart, he's perfect within his personal range.

So, after playing a doctor and a police officer, two noble professions to say the least, it's almost natural that Poitier embodies the noblest and most idealistic of all the vocations in "To Sir, With Love" as Mark Thackeray, a teacher and engineer-trainee affected in a high school located in the slums of London's East End, facing a classroom of white students whose racism can be forgiven in the name of ignorance and because it's obviously a wall that can be broken with some efforts. It's up to Thackeray to educate them before their entrance in the adult world. As I said, Thackeray reminds so much of the characters Poitier played in 1967 that the film can be regarded as the third of an unofficial trilogy, whose only theme would be the eye- opening experience of a black man, victim of prejudices, and the ultimate triumph of tolerance and human spirit. I'm not a fan of 'big words' but put in their context, these films were not only significant but necessary to educate some viewers, and it's quite fitting that Poitier incarnates here, a teacher.

Before "To Sir, With Love", only two movies impacted the spirits about the value of an exceptional teacher, "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" and "Blackboard Jungle", starring Poitier too as a good-hearted hoodlum, there where other films of course but "To Sir, With Love" can still be regarded as a pioneer on the subject even more interesting because it was made in 1967, a year where the baby-boom generation stood up against the establishment and the system, holding the red, the green or the rainbow flag. But what struck me in "To Sir, With Love" is that the film avoids these clichés and portrays a group of kid who're too practical to be just rebels without a cause. Ultimately, they are not kids learning about discipline, but about life, sex, marriage, employment, being a man and being a woman. Thackeray can appear as old- fashioned but he addresses a youth that can respond to his lessons, especially because he reflects the very attitudes and behavior he 'preaches' to his students.

There's no room for clichés in "To Sir, With Love", it's not the chronicles about rebellion as a sickness that can be cured by education, only the journey of a teacher who'll reconcile a bunch of misfits with society. Of course, Thackeray's struggles will earn him the hostility of some elements, but inculcating trust, understanding and communication is a process that demand patience, and a moral strength to overcome the most difficult obstacles with calm and empathy. The key is respect, politeness, a capability for admitting faults or reacting in extreme situations. Three pivotal moments will punctuate Thackeray's journey, the culminating incident where he'll finally understand what matters the most for these kids is less theory and more practicality, a visit in the museum, and the ultimate confrontation with one of them. From all these situations, Thackeray will turn out to be one hell of a teacher, too perfect to be believable if Sidney Poitier didn't play him.

Despite some obvious subplots, like the cute girl having a crush on him or some clumsy displays of racism by a colleague, the film keeps a certain complexity in Poitier's character, who disorients his own students. "You're like us, and not like us", says one of them, which is probably the greatest compliment a teacher could receive, above the students enough to teach them but not too much, so he also can understand them. And through his experience, even Thackeray learns one thing or two about teaching, and about his very purpose in life. And I wouldn't be surprised to know that "To Sir, With Love" encouraged many vocations. Now, the film is not perfect, some details like the students wearing the same clothes every day betray its low budget, but I was in fact touched by the film's modesty and I guess the film was counting on the emotional pay-off of the ending that redeemed all these little things that didn't work, and I reckon the sight of Poitier almost bursting to tears after hearing one of the most beautiful cinematic farewell songs cut straight to my heart.

Indeed, "To Sir, With Love" is also this beautiful melody that carries all the positive aspects of the film, and I will never believe how this never got nominated to the Oscar for Best Original Song ("Talk like an Animal"? Give me a break), another mystery like Poitier not having an Oscar nomination in 1967 (although it was a strong line-up that year)… doesn't matter, "To Sir, With Love" is a beautiful film, carried by a superb performance from one of the last living icons.
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One of my all time great flicks to see over and over again...
smakalot25 September 2007
I have seen this movies at least 50 times since 1967 I know. It's just one of those movies that you see that you never forget. I have always had great admiration for teachers because I think they have the hardest job in the world. Sidney Poitier is such a great actor that he makes you want to cheer his characters and you believe he is who he is portraying. I still love the theme song and I think it defines the whole movie and makes you want to see it again and again. "How do you thank someone, who has taken you from crayons to perfume." Great flick... And of course the dance scene at the end. I still can't do those moves...
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Heart-warming high school drama
Leofwine_draca24 July 2015
TO SIR, WITH LOVE is a fine little film which provides a neat snapshot of secondary school life in the late 1960s. It's one of those films which has a fairly simplistic storyline, but don't be fooled by the deceptive simplicity: this is actually a movie of great depth, exploring racial tensions, student/teacher romance, childhood vs. adulthood, and much more besides. It's easy to overlook these undercurrents given how subtly they're portrayed, but combine them together and you have a quite wonderful movie.

Much of this film's success comes from the central casting Sidney Poitier, which must have been an unusual decision back in the day. Poitier makes the film his own and gives the movie a sentimental heart, although his emotions are hidden for the most part. His acting reminds me of the likes of Japanese actors such as Toshiro Mifune, displaying a stony face on the outset while putting across hints at the feelings bubbling beneath.

Elsewhere, we get fun scene-setting in the form of '60s music and dance, enhanced by the presence of pop starlet Lulu. Judy Geeson is completely believable as the besotted student, and there are many familiar faces who would go on to future success (Patricia Routledge, Geoffrey Bayldon, Chris Chittell, Suzy Kendall). Although this is very much a feel-good film with scenes of sentimentality, its depiction of a realistic social milieu makes it uplifting without being sickly.
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Play Time is Over
view_and_review18 August 2019
Whoever knew that England had a Lean on Me scenario? OK, so it wasn't quite that bad but Mr. Thatchery (Sidney Poitier) walked into a cruel situation. Not able to land a job as an engineer-what he attained his degree in-he decides to teach while he waits on a coveted engineering postion. He got the worst teaching gig in the UK. The students were mean, immature, disrespectful, and everything else. Mr. Thatchery can quit or stick it out. If he sticks with it he can mentally check out or try to make a difference with the kids. He decided to try to make a difference and we thank him for it.

Sidney Poitier does it again. He chooses a role that is respectable and incredible. This was an excellent movie. I've seen a few student reform movies-one being with Sidney Poitier in A Piece of the Action-and I can't really say I disliked any of them.

Who doesn't like reform? Who doesn't like seeing young men and women get off the tracks to Nowheresville and on the tracks to Somebodytown? It's been done in different ways in Lean on Me, Coach Carter, A Piece of the Action, Stand and Deliver, Freedom Writers and more, yet they're all good.

Mr. Thatchery's approach in this film was to treat the students like adults. They were not deserving of such treatment but Mr. Thatchery gambled on that approach to marvelous success. It was a great movie and very inspirational.
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sherilcarey3 October 2021
This really stands the test of time. Great story, great acting. In a time when many people want old divisions to be current and work to stir them up seeing this amazing part of the progress that was made was so wonderfully heartening. There are always some who are wise and good...even today. We just have to look to the good and keep telling the truth about that instead of joining with popular fallacies, dogmas and evils. But seriously, even from just a cinema perspective don't miss Sidney Poitier in this picture. Without any of the tricks you're used to in modern films you will see something deeper and better than 99% of what tries to come off as profound in this day and age.
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On The Other Side Of The Classroom
bkoganbing29 December 2007
Twelve years earlier a much too old Sidney Poitier was cast as one of the delinquents bedeviling Glenn Ford in The Blackboard Jungle. Now across the pond Sidney got a taste of what he was dishing out to Glenn in one of his biggest hits, To Sir With Love.

Poitier is an engineer, born in British Guiana and educated in America, he's now in London taking a teaching job in the tough East End of London. But delinquent kids are the same everywhere. These kids are into sex and rock and roll and at that time rock and roll had a most English accent, courtesy of the Beatles.

It takes a while, but eventually Sid wins their trust in a variety of ways from sage advice to a good body blow to Christian Roberts who plays the toughest nut in his classroom bag to crack.

To Sir With Love was shot on location in the United Kingdom and did very well at the box office. The title song, sung by Lulu who plays one of the kids here, was a tremendous hit in the middle sixties on both sides of the pond.

To Sir With Love helped launch the career of Judy Geeson who's still doing quite well. She plays young Pamela Dare who's developing quite the crush on handsome Sid. Poitier certainly handles it a lot better than it would be shown today.

I'm surprised that a television series wasn't developed from this at least in the United Kingdom. It certainly had a lot of potential in that direction.

For those of you nostalgic for the British scene in the sixties when they ruled the pop world, To Sir With Love is your film.
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Feel Good Film
Theo Robertson12 September 2003
A new teacher arrives at a tough inner city school populated by teenage hooligans . Hardly a new concept for a movie is it ? , but TO SIR WITH LOVE is slightly different from the same type of film made in the 1980s and 90s , it`s set in swinging sixties London when Britannia really was cool , and the kids are " Cor blimey guvner " cockney kids who are not really bad , they`re just misunderstood and if you treat them as adults they`ll behave like adults . This is a totally naive , predictable film with an extremely progressive streak but that`s what I enjoyed about it as Mark Thackeray shows the kids what being an adult is all about . There`s not a cynical bone in this movie`s body , and it`s good to remember a time when a " really tough " school meant pupils talking in class and slamming doors
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Look Who's "Teach" Now
frankwiener11 June 2017
I loved this film from start to finish. From the very first scenes of Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier) catching the LLU 829 bus, which passes through London on his first day as a teacher in a mostly white, working class school in the East End, to its very last scene, which I won't describe, it captured my interest unlike many other movies that I have seen lately. For me, this was one of Poitier's best films, and I am disappointed that he has never been appropriately acknowledged for his outstanding performance in it. Many of his more popular roles did not bring out the full range of his acting ability as this one did. A lively and thoughtful script by director James Clavell certainly helped Poitier in this achievement.

I first viewed this film when it was released in 1967, fifty long years ago and the year that I graduated from high school, an institution that was only a notch above the environment of North Quay. For me, this motion picture has actually improved in time, perhaps because I finally understand the words of the East Enders.

The use of the theme song "To Sir With Love" with all of its variations to match the mood of the moment was very successful. The montage sequence of still shots at the museum was also very effective, especially when one considers that the museum management refused to allow the crew from rolling their cameras inside. Talk about turning lemons into lemonade.

Two major instances of irony left a strong impact on me. The first was that of a highly educated black man teaching a predominantly white, underprivileged group of working class students in the inner city. The second was the sight of Sidney Poitier, who played one of those underprivileged students in a New York City high school twelve years earlier during "Blackboard Jungle", standing in front of a similar class as the teacher. In both movies, the teachers were faced with the same, difficult choice of leaving their troubled schools for careers elsewhere.

Although the subject of race arose with great restraint on several occasions during the movie, it did not bluntly expose itself until the moment when the mostly white students were asked to deliver flowers to the home of a bereaved non-white classmate. This was a moment of truth that was handled very well with a very moving and gratifying result.

Although several other reviewers don't agree with me, this is a film which has withstood the test of time. Thanks to the outstanding performance of "Sir" Sidney Poitier, an excellent script, a very capable, British supporting cast, and overall direction by James Clavell that kept me involved in the action from start to finish, this is a very appealing movie that must be seen.
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I've been watching this film for years
kimmishy516 November 2019
I can't get enough of this picture. I've Introduced it to my grand and great grand kids. I'm happy to say they all love it and love to sing the song over and over.
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Nobody would doubt that as a teacher American actor Sir Sidney Poitier had indeed made a lot of difference in the lives of some English kids !!!!
FilmCriticLalitRao25 March 2015
British film 'To Sir with love' is set in a poor school located in east London where a substitute teacher comes to replace his colleague who has left the school. The new teacher is absolutely determined to make some difference in the lives of school children. He is somewhat saddened to hear negative remarks about children from his school colleagues. Although he witnesses a lot of discipline related issues at the school, he is able to put some sense in the minds of students who end up becoming "responsible adults". While watching 'To Sir with love', viewers would clearly observe that the white kids from London's poor neighborhoods do not have any special problems in accepting a black person as their teacher. Hence the issue of racism does not arise. This film makes a sad commentary about the people who would like to choose teaching profession for all the wrong reasons in the world. One should not treat teaching profession as a temporary job which can be done while one's search for another lucrative position is under way. American actor sir Sidney Poitier dazzles as Mr. Thackeray- a teacher who is able to win students' love and affection by treating them as equal as well as respecting them. He does not favor them openly but he is aware of their importance too. The social relevance of this film continues to be felt as keenly as ever due to the fact that English schools are still extremely unruly where students make a lot of noise.
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