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Up the Down Staircase


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Up the Down Staircase + To Sir, With Love
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Product Details

  • Actors: Sandy Dennis, Patrick Bedford, Eileen Heckart, Ruth White, Jean Stapleton
  • Directors: Robert Mulligan
  • Writers: Bel Kaufman, Tad Mosel
  • Producers: Alan J. Pakula
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: November 6, 2007
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000UPMZ0I
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,769 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Up the Down Staircase" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Theatrical trailer

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Sylvia Barrett is a rookie teacher with a can-do attitude at New York's inner city Calvin Coolidge High. Crowded classes, broken windows, lack of chalk and books are a few of the problems facing Sylvia, yet she carries on - even as 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.

Amazon.com

Up the Down Staircase wasn't the first inspirational-teacher movie, but along with To Sir, with Love (also released in 1967), it seemed to set a pattern that gets brushed off every few years: Dangerous Minds, Freedom Writers, etc. etc. And this one still holds up, thanks to the sensitive direction of Robert Mulligan and the central performance by Sandy Dennis. The latter plays an idealistic teacher starting the new term at an inner-city high school (stop me if you've heard this one before), and discovering that the teaching life has as much to do with corralling and motivating kids as it does with rote recitation of facts. All right, it's a familiar tale, but the impeccably authentic approach by Mulligan (To Kill a Mockingbird) and longtime producer (future director) Alan Pakula captures a bracing, semi-documentary feel at times. And then there's Sandy Dennis, fresh from winning a Supporting Actress Oscar for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? the year before. Dennis was a famously polarizing presence in movies of this era; her reliably neurotic Method acting drove some viewers up the wall. Here the style works, as her overmatched but stubborn teacher weathers the usual, so to speak, ups and downs of a school year; Dennis's very fragility shines as a counterpoint to her determined character. --Robert Horton

Customer Reviews

She said her father liked that one too.
Amazon Customer
The acting was good -- Sandy Dennis was cast perfectly as a first year inner city teacher, who entered her chosen career with idealism and resolve.
Sandra Marroso
Sandy Dennis was the perfect actress to play the role.
Sylviastel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Ricky N. on January 12, 2002
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
"Up the Down Staircase" is a wonderful film. It portrays Coolidge High School in New York City, and an idealistic teacher who discovers the harsh realities found in the urban schools in America. Even though it was made in 1967, it still holds true 35 years later. It is a story of courage and triumph. The star is Sandy Dennis, a superb actress whose performance is flawless as the teacher. It also features Eileen Heckart, Ruth White, Jean Stapleton, and Sorrell Booke. This film is a classic masterpeice, and is highly recommended.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer E. Williams on August 7, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
I watched this film for the very first time today and it is incredible. Sandy Dennis was brilliant as a young, idealistic school teacher who is slowly worn down, and ultimately rejuvenated, by her experiences working at an inner-city school. The film has disturbing scenes, happy scenes, sad scenes, and even some funny scenes. Most of all this film is real...it touches your heart and, to anyone who has ever been a teacher or attended a public school, the experiences Sandy Dennis's character has with the school nurse and secretary are hilariously realistic. EXCELLENT FILM!!!!
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By "sandydennis" on February 18, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
Sandy Dennis in her role as high school teacher Sylvia Barrett is truly magnificent!!! She outshines every other actor or actress in the movie. She does not overact - instead, she strikes one by her flawless presentation of an initially overtaxed teacher who develops towards an inspiring person, not only for her pupils, but also for those who watch the film with the intention to become a teacher her- or himself, as I do. What I appreciate especially about Up the down staircase is that with a minimum of special effects or dramatic events, a realistic portrayal of school life is achieved - from the teacher's as well as from the pupil's point of view. Dennis herself ranks among the most underrated Hollywood actresses, but like Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, the film Up the down staircase stands as one of her masterpieces and prove that back in 1992, when she died of ovarian cancer, America lost one of its most gifted and unique actresses.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 28, 2004
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
I love this movie! I was knocked out by director Pakula's interpretation of the book. He (and Tad Mosel, the screenwriter) fleshed it out considerably and added dimension and depth to the characters without once bypassing any of the book's tone and purpose. There is much to be lauded about this movie. First, of course, is Sandy Dennis's flawless portrayal of Sylvia Barrett. Dennis imparted considerable pathos and emotion to the young, idealistic teacher. The other parts were perfectly cast, right down to Jose Rodriguez (which is his name in the book, his name in the movie, and his real name, to boot!). There is no sex, no bad language, no nudity-- nothing that current films are so rife with. This was back when movie makers had to rely on their imagination, education, and sensitivity to put together an excellent movie. Not like today, where things tawdry and gruesome and depressing are featured and sensibility is empty and meaningless. See this movie-- you won't be disappointed.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By JK on August 18, 2002
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
It's hard to believe this role wasn't written for Sandy Dennis. Of course, the film is derived from the classic book about an idealistic young teacher on her first job, confronted with street-wise students in her first year.
This movie was the first I'd ever seen with Sandy Dennis. I was in 7th grade when it was released, and all the friends I had saw it with me. We all agreed that it was more 'realistic' than "To Sir With Love" which we also went to see. I was captivated by Ms. Dennis's quirky looks and personality. Of course, this was long before VCR's, so all one could do was watch for new releases, which I did. Unfortunately, Ms. Dennis didn't release anything else that came to our small town before I left high school. I didn't forget her, though.
When I recently purchased this movie, and a reprint of the book, it had been over 20 years since I'd watched it. Of course, styles and mannerisms have changed enormously since this movie was released. However, the basic personalities of the actors' parts haven't changed. There certainly is a universality in all the main parts. The guidance counselor, for instance--didn't so many of us know one like this, who seemed to lose the true purpose of the job in a wave of psychological jabber? Jean Stapleton was superb in her part as the school secretary, wrapped up in endless silly forms and paperwork, yet with a respect for the 'artistic' English teacher/writer that motivated her to falsify his time. Of course, the unusual personal acting quality that was Sandy Dennis plays off of all these others, in that familiar-yet-distant manner that she mastered.
Thirty-five years on, I find I still prefer this movie to "Sir", because it is less saccharin. Not saccharin at all, as a matter of fact.
Read more ›
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 27, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
I meant to see this film many times over the years, including when it first came out in theaters in 1967, but never found the time until the other night when it was shown on TCM. I wish I had seen it much sooner, especially since I went to a similar high school, because the characters and performances are so real and true-to-life! Everone knows (or knew) different schoolmates who are just like the characters in the film. This movie leaves a lasting impression, especially the various subplots and subtext underlying the story. I wonder: does anyone know what became of the others in the cast such as Patrick Bedford, Jeff Howard and the young woman who played Alice? At any rate, this film is excellent and its theme is timeless and I know I'll be watching it again and again...
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