TO SIR, WITH LOVE (1967) C widescreen 105m dir: James Clavell
w/Sidney Poitier, Judy Geeson, Christian Roberts, Suzy Kendall, Ann Bell, Geoffrey Bayldon, Faith Brook, Patricia Routledge, Christopher Chittell, Adrienne Posta, Edward Burnham, Rita Webb, Fiona Duncan, Fred Griffiths, Mona Bruce, Marianne Stone, Dervis Ward, Peter Attard, Sally James, Grahame Charles, Michael Des Barres, Margaret Heald, Ellison Kemp, Albert Lampert, Chitra Neogy, Elna Pearl, Bonnie Lythgoe, Anthony Villaroel, Richard Wilson, Stewart Bevan, Carla Challoner, Joseph Cuby, Sally Gosselin, Kevin Hubbard, Howard Knight, Lynne Sue Moon, Jayne Peach, Gareth Robinson, Roger Shepherd, Stephen Whittaker, Ric Rothwell, Bob Lang, Eric Stewart, Lulu
From Variety's contemporary review of the film: "To Sir, With Love is a well-made, sometimes poignant, drama [written by Clavell, from the 1959 E.R. Braithwaite novel] about a Negro teacher, working in a London slum, who transforms an unruly class into a group of youngsters better prepared for adult life. Sidney Poitier stars in an excellent performance.
"Poitier, after gauging the rebellious mood of his class, scraps the formal agenda and institutes what he rightly calls 'survival training.' Students include Christian Roberts, very good as the natural class leader; Judy Geeson, a looker who gets a crush on teacher; Christopher Chittell, another reformed punk; and Lulu, an engaging personality with substantial acting ability."
Lulu had a big hit with her recording of the title song, which is heard throughout the film.
From the Hi-Def Digest website (www.bluray.hidefdigest.com), this 2015 review of the film by Matthew Hartman:
"If there's one lesson to learn in life it is that every mind has something to offer if given a chance to thrive and to be taken seriously. To Sir, With Love sets out to show how one meaningful individual can change the lives of many by offering such an opportunity. James Clavell’s adaptation of E.R. Braithwaite’s semi-autobiographical novel tells the tale of of an out of work engineer, Mark Thackeray played with incredible style and presence by Oscar winner Sidney Poitier, who is given a chance to teach in a tough inner-city London school.
"After several teachers had been driven to their breaking point and abandoned the post, Thackeray is given a seemingly impossible task of teaching some of the toughest students in London. With no prior teaching experience, Thackeray believes he can rely on his calm demeanor and his clear communication skills to tame these wilds. That was before he had to stand in front of them as a teacher. Lead by Denham, Christian Roberts, the classroom proceeds to push, prod, and punish Thackeray’s patience until he reaches his own breaking point.
"Rather than run out on them, Thackeray hits on an untried method of reaching them. He stands up to this classroom of toughs by standing with them, rather than against them. These are young men and women who are about to finish school and enter the workforce without the skills necessary to survive let alone treat each other as adults. Few have an adequate ability to read, speak clearly, clean their clothes, or even cook a healthy meal. By teaching these children to act as adults and perform adult tasks, Thackeray earns their respect and admiration. If this plot sounds at all familiar it’s because it’s been revisited many times since in films like Dead Poets Society or Dangerous Minds. It also wasn’t the first story of an inspirational teacher --- but it has stood the test of time as one of the best.
"1967 proved to be a banner year for Sidney Poitier as movie screens were occupied with three of his best films, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night, and this film To Sir, With Love. Each of these films addresses the issues of race and class in a unique way. Where Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and In the Heat of the Night take on issues of race head on, To Sir, With Love is far more subtle in its approach. Race relations are certainly an issue at hand --- most notably present surrounding the buying and delivering of flowers to the funeral for a fellow student’s mother --- but it isn’t the primary problem these students have with their new teacher. To them Thackeray is a 'toff,' someone with means and money who doesn’t understand where they come from. Little do they know Thackeray is more like them than anyone they’ve encountered.
"To Sir, With Love is a film that explores how socio-economics can play a hand in discrimination as much as the color of a person’s skin. Too often with success stories, the tale of where an individual comes from is often overlooked in favor of the grand achievements. Because few ever take the time to tell the whole story of who they are or where they came from, it becomes hard for an audience to view a person as genuine. Thackeray and therefore by extension author E.R. Braithwaite doesn’t hide behind success or presence or manner of speech --- these are simply the tools used to reach out to people and bring them towards a common goal. Instead Thackeray is honest and upfront. If he doesn't know an answer he doesn't lie or hide, he says he doesn't know, but offers his own unique perspective.
"On top of the dynamic presence of Poitier and the threatening tough guy Christian Roberts, the movie is populated with great performances by emerging talent. Names like Judy Geeson and Lulu would become stars in their own right and in this movie it’s very easy to see why. Most of the actors making up Thackeray’s class made their screen debut in this film. They were in charge of their own clothing, makeup and hairstyles --- hence the reason why Lulu’s hair could change length from scene to scene. It’s easy to see they’re a group of raw talent that’s given a real chance to shine. As such, it’s an amazing shame that this film was so overlooked come Oscar consideration. Even Lulu’s breakout title number for the film while a sensation, ultimately failed to garner a nomination.
"In spite of being snubbed for any number of deserved accolades, To Sir, With Love stands as a fantastic film that continues to resonate 48 years later, and it’s easy to see why. It features outstanding performances from it’s cast, confident storytelling and direction, and some of the best pop tunes of the era. If you’ve never seen the film, you owe it to yourself to discover this 1960’s classic. If you’re already a fan, it never hurts to give this film another viewing as time can only offer more appreciation and context for this outstanding piece of work."