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?
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?
Although this film was shot before the release of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Sandy Dennis was cast in this, her first starring role, based in large part on industry word-of-mouth about her performance in that film - a performance that would win Dennis a Best Supporting Actress Oscar before Up the Down Staircase was released. See more
In the classroom scene where Harry A Kagan is talking, his necktie alternates between being tucked into the belt and in front of the belt. See more
[Frequently Over Intercom
Disregard all bells.
References My Blue Heaven