Customer Review

95 of 99 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Poitier's best, March 18, 2002
This review is from: To Sir With Love [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Sidney Poitier has the role of a new teacher in one of Britain's secondary schools. He is given a class of students who, with maybe one or two exceptions, have reached the end of the academic road and will be leaving school at the end of term. They have no academic future and their future outside of school is not to promising. Bike messengers and shop assistants if they're lucky is what awaits these 15 year olds. (Leaving age in the mid-60s was 15.) The kids can care less about school and are just watching the days roll down until they don't have to attend anymore.
Poitier's charecter quickly realizes that the best thing he can do is get these kids ready for the real world. He junks the syllabus and creates his own plan for these people to meet life with something like survival skills. Instead of maths, science and english, he teaches the world of cooking, politeness and proper grooming. These latter skills will help these kids far more than being able to diagram a sentence.
I first saw this film when it first came out. I think I had a better appreication of it, as an American, becuase I had jsut returned from living in the UK and attending a secondary school, which while not like North Quay, did introduce me to some of the characters portrayed. Guys I knew were facing school leaving with prospects of working as a green grocer's assistant or a boy soldier or seaman in the Forces. So on an intellectual level, I certainly understood what Poitier's character faced. These weren't juvenile delinquents but a real segment of British society that probably still exists today.
This film has just as much validity today as it did when it was first released. The cast is excellent from Poitier down to the kid with no lines but filling a desk. I found this to be a fine film at the time I first saw it and today when I saw it again after a period of several years between viewings. I recommend it to everyone who enjoys British films.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 1, 2012 3:14:27 AM PST
I too saw "To Sir, With Love" when first released during the summer of 1967; but in my opinion to label it simply as a "British Film" places limits upon its entire message. The rationality of one teacher being able to reach a class room of students simply by caring and being willing to "go above and beyond" to me is a characteristic found in everyone who truly loves to teach; no matter their nationality. Yes it may be set in British society, but it was directed and its screenplay written by James Clavell who was Australian born; lived for a time in the UK; and in 1963 became a naturalized US citizen, living here for thirty years until his death, and the story is based on the Georgetown, Guyana author E.R. Braithwaite's semi-autobiographical novel of the same name. This movie has no boundaries;its relevance can still be felt 45 years later by anyone living in an area of poverty where inadequate education, and limited prospects for employment abound.
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