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United Kingdom 1967
Directed by
James Clavell
105 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

To Sir With Love

To Sir With Love is a classic of the Swinging London era, with a hit title song by pop diva Lulu, who also has a secondary role as one of the students in a rough East End high school. American Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier) who recently received his degree in engineering, but cannot find work takes a job as a teacher and wins over his unruly charges by his calm demeanour and sense of commitment to self-development.

Whilst '60s buffs will appreciate the cool dance moves and groovy gear sported by the girls, the film is also a commendable addition to the committed-teacher-overcomes-hostile-classroom sub-genre which includes such films as  Blackboard Jungle (955) and Stand and Deliver (1988). Poitier is well in his comfort zone as the black teacher who through his indomitable adherence to good manners converts a bunch of mostly white disaffected teens to the path of wholesomeness. It's more cosy fantasy than social realism but is done with an understated charm that carríes its message without preaching.

FYI: The film  was effectively  remade for television, with less charm and much less effect, as To Sir With Love II, competently directed by one-time wunderkind Peter Bogdanovich and with a superannuated Poitier reprising his role, but this time located 30 years on and supposedly working his magic on black and Hispanic kids in a Chicago 'hood. Stick with the original.




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