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USA 1955
Directed by
Richard Brooks
101 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1.5 stars

Blackboard Jungle

This social issue movie about juvenile delinquency may well be an icon of the changing times and Hollywood’s attempt to address them but much like The Wild One, which came out two years earlier, it is a tepid treatment of its subject matter and suffers from an earnestly moralizing agenda. 

Opening to the sounds of Bill Haley’s "Rock Around The Clock", the first time rock’n’roll had been used in a major studio release, even if it was as innocuous an instance of Satan's music as there ever was, it tells the story of a novice teacher and war veteran (Glenn Ford) as he tries to win over the kids of a rough New York high school.

Richard Brooks’s script adapted from an autobiographical novel by Evan Hunter which, indicating the film’s popular success more than any inherent merits, was nominated for an Oscar, never manages to infuse much interest into the driving opposition between the teacher’s idealism and the kid’s cynicism, with the basic conflict simply being re-iterated in a series of unconvincing confrontations that lead to the inevitable upbeat resolution. A sub-plot with an attractive female teacher doesn’t go anywhere and that Ford’s two principal opponents, played by Sidney Poitier and Vic Morrow were respectively 28 and 26 at the time hardly helps the too obviously studio-bound film’s very approximate sense of verisimilitude.




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