Max Bygraves did not enter movies that often. In CHARLIE MOON (1956) he had a role as a young lover with a hit song. SPARE THE ROD was very different. Directed by Leslie Norman, who was a grid workmanlike director, Bygraves plays an orphan boy made good as he takes up the role of a supply teacher at one of London's toughest schools. The temptation might have been to sentimentalise the material, but to his credit Norman suggests that friendships are few and far between in this discipline-dominated institution, presided over by a head teacher (Donald Pleasance) with a fondness fir a big stick and tyrannical rule. His sidekick (Geoffrey Keen) is a teacher of the old school, where the cane does most of the talking. Bygraves enters a knife-edge atmosphere, where learner rebellion is perpetually imminent, and semi-succeeds at his job by listening to the learners and taking their ambitions in mind. Needless to say, he doesn't succeed where others have failed, his over-zealous temper getting the better of him in the end when he attempts to defend a learner against an unwarranted beating from a teacher. At the end it is left undecided whether he will stay or not, but he remains popular by combining strictness with understanding. The film Has its share of educational cinematic cliches, but remains refreshingly
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