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Up the Down Staircase 1967

NR CC
4.5 out of 5 stars (68) IMDb 7.6/10

A young, energetic and idealist teacher starts her first semester in a large metropolitan high school, rudely awakened to the differences between ideals and reality.

Starring:
Sandy Dennis, Patrick Bedford
Runtime:
2 hours, 3 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama
Director Robert Mulligan
Starring Sandy Dennis, Patrick Bedford
Supporting actors Eileen Heckart, Ruth White, Jean Stapleton, Sorrell Booke, Roy Poole, Florence Stanley, Vinnette Carroll, Janice Mars, Loretta Leversee, John Callahan, Denis Fay, Otto Lomax, Martha Greenhouse, María Landa, Robert Levine, Elena Karam, Frances Sternhagen, Candace Culkin
Studio Warner Bros.
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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By A Customer on February 18, 2002
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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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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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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.
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Format: VHS Tape
Bel Kaufman's novel is one of those books that falls into the beloved category for most people who have read it. This 1967 film does a marvelous job of bringing the antinovel to life. An "antinovel" is simply an avant-garde novel that offers a radical departure from the convention of the traditional novels, which Kaufman does by offering up letters, memos, directives from the principal, student comments, notes between teachers, school forms, and even papers from wastebaskets to create a vivid picture of first-year teaching Silvia Barrett struggling to deal with the joys of teaching at an inner-city school. Most of the credit for this film goes to Sandy Dennis for her indelible performance as Miss Barrett and screenwriter Tad Mosel for making the raw elements of Kaufman's novel work.
The supporting cast is a perfect mix of recognizable character actors for the teachers and complete unknowns for the students. Sorrell Booke is the principal, Roy Poole the hardnosed assistant principal, Jean Stapleton the harried secretary, Eileen Heckart and Ruth White the good teachers, and Paul Barringer the moody bad boy of the English Department. One of the most horrifying scenes I have ever seen in a film is when Barringer's character calmly corrects the love note written to him by a young female student. He corrects her punctuation and spelling while she has to endure his callous insensitivity, and when Alice jumps from the window of his classroom we are horrified but not surprised. But this is just one of many memorable scenes in this film.
"Up the Down Staircase" is one of those films that inspires people to be teachers, or, better yet, to stay in teaching. It does not sugarcoat how things are in an inner-city school.
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