39 user 16 critic

Up the Down Staircase (1967)

Approved | | Drama | 28 June 1967 (USA)
4:24 | Trailer
The experiences of a young female English teacher in an inner-city New York high school.


Robert Mulligan


Bel Kaufman (based on the novel by), Tad Mosel (screenplay by)
1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Sandy Dennis ... Sylvia Barrett
Patrick Bedford Patrick Bedford ... Paul Barringer
Eileen Heckart ... Henrietta Pastorfield
Ruth White ... Beatrice Schacter
Jean Stapleton ... Sadie Finch
Sorrell Booke ... Dr. Bester
Roy Poole ... Mr. McHabe
Florence Stanley ... Ella Friedenberg
Vinnette Carroll Vinnette Carroll ... The Mother
Janice Mars Janice Mars ... Miss Gordon
Loretta Leversee Loretta Leversee ... Social Studies Teacher
John Callahan John Callahan
Denis Fay Denis Fay
Otto Lomax Otto Lomax
Martha Greenhouse Martha Greenhouse ... Alberta Kagan


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? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Actually filmed in the classrooms and on the sidewalks of New York! See more »




Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Benjamin Franklin High School on Pleasant Avenue and 116th Street is now the Center for Mathematics and Science. The building is seen on the cover of the DVD with Sandy Dennis in foreground. See more »


During the opening montage establishing the first day of school in September in a New York high school, several shots were obviously filmed in dead of winter with extras in heavy coats, gray skies, etc. contrasting wildly with scenes of sunny skies and lightweight costumes of main characters. See more »


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.
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Referenced in Reflections of Evil (2002) See more »

User Reviews

Best Teacher Film
26 July 2007 | by jlarkin5See all my reviews

Rivals "To Sir, With Love" (released around the same time) as the best teacher film of all time. The difference: Sandy Dennis.

Dennis was one of those actors they don't make anymore (or at least don't showcase in Hollywood in 2007). She was strange, quirky, not conventionally pretty and she had that quality a lot of new female teachers have-that deer in the headlights look that makes the viewer root for her to make it "work" with those tough students.

The story is strong with some good subplots with the troubled students. It is dated but I would say the same issues facing Dennis here face contemporary teachers.

I take Dennis to Robin Williams in "Dead Poets Society" anyday.

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Release Date:

28 June 1967 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Up the Down Staircase See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Park Place Production See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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