To Sir, with Love
|To Sir, with Love|
One of theatrical release posters
|Directed by||James Clavell|
|Produced by||James Clavell|
|Written by||James Clavell|
|Based on||To Sir, With Love
by E. R. Braithwaite
|Music by||Ron Grainer|
|Editing by||Peter Thornton|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Running time||105 min|
To Sir, with Love is a 1967 British drama film starring Sidney Poitier that deals with social and racial issues in an inner-city school. James Clavell both directed and wrote the film's screenplay, based on the semi-autobiographical novel To Sir, With Love by E. R. Braithwaite.
The film's title song "To Sir With Love", sung by Lulu, reached number one on the U.S. pop charts, and ultimately was Billboard magazine's No. 1 pop single for the year, 1967. The movie ranked number 27 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the 50 Best High School Movies.
A television film sequel, To Sir, with Love II, was released in 1996.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (December 2011)|
Mark Thackeray (Poitier) is an unemployed engineer looking for work when he applies for a teaching position at the North Quay Secondary School in the tough East End of London. He comes from British Guiana via California, and holds a degree in Communication Engineering.
Thackeray learns from the staff of North Quay that the students come from rough homes, and excel at riding roughshod over teachers. The headmaster explains they have been principally rejected from other schools and their antics drove their last teacher to resign.
The students more than live up to their reputation. Led by Bert Denham (Christian Roberts) and Pamela Dare (Judy Geeson), they are an unruly mob. As their antics progress from simple disruptive behaviour to distasteful pranks, Thackeray retains his calm manner but a turning point comes one morning when he discovers something, presumably a sanitary pad, burning in the classroom grate. He loses his temper with the class but this leads him to a new idea, and he subsequently informs them that from now on they will be treated as adults and allowed to discuss issues of their own choosing for the remainder of the term.
Thackeray wins the class over, except for Denham, who continues to bait him. Thackeray suggests a class outing to a museum; the headmaster is reluctant but obtains approval for the outing. Thackeray arrives on the morning of the trip to find a classroom of well-dressed, well-scrubbed students and the trip is a success.
However, he loses some of this new-found support when he defuses a potentially violent situation between Potter (Chris Chittell) and a gym teacher, Mr Bell. In class, he demands that Potter apologise directly to Bell for the incident even if he believes Bell was wrong. The group refuse to invite Thackeray to the class dance, and when Seales' (Anthony Villaroel, the only black student in the class) mother dies, the class takes up a collection for a wreath but refuses to accept Thackeray's donation. At this point, the headmaster advises him that he feels "the adult approach" has failed, that future class outings are cancelled, and that Thackeray will take over the boys' gym classes.
Thackeray's search for an engineering position has continued throughout the movie, and at this low point in his relationship with his students, he is ecstatic to receive a job offer in the mail.
He starts to win the students back after he beats Denham in a boxing match, but tells him that he has genuine boxing ability and suggests that Denham teach boxing to the younger students next year. Denham expresses his admiration for Thackeray to his fellow students, Thackeray wins back their respect and is invited to the class dance.
At the dance Barbara Pegg (Lulu) announces a "ladies' choice" dance and Pamela singles out Thackeray as her partner. The class present him with a gift, while Lulu sings the movie theme. Thackeray is too moved for words and retires to his classroom.
Two youths rush into the classroom, and upon seeing Thackeray they begin mocking his gift and joking that they will be in his class next year. Thackeray realises that he has a job to do and he tears up the job offer letter, signifying that he is going to stay on at the school. He realises how affectionate he feels towards the children and understands he can never part from them.
- Sidney Poitier as Mark Thackeray
- Christian Roberts as Bert Denham
- Judy Geeson as Pamela Dare
- Suzy Kendall as Gillian Blanchard
- Ann Bell as Mrs. Dare
- Geoffrey Bayldon as Theo Weston
- Faith Brook as Grace Evans
- Patricia Routledge as Clinty Clintridge
- Chris Chittell as Potter
- Adrienne Posta as Moira Joseph
- Lulu as Barbara "Babs" Pegg
- Edward Burnham as Florian
- Rita Webb as Mrs. Joseph
- Marianne Stone as Gert
- The Mindbenders
The movie opened to positive reviews and good box-office returns in both Britain and the U.S. Some felt the film was a little routine, but did like Poitier as the teacher in the film. It premiered and became a hit one month before another film about troubled schools, Up the Down Staircase, appeared. Halliwell's Film and Video Guide describes it as "sentimental non-realism" and quotes a Monthly Film Bulletin review (possibly contemporary with its British release), which claims that "the sententious script sounds as if it has been written by a zealous Sunday school teacher after a particularly exhilarating boycott of South African oranges". The Time Out Film Guide says that it "bears no resemblance to school life as we know it" and the "hoodlums miraculous reformation a week before the end of term (thanks to teacher Poitier) is laughable". Although agreeing with the claims about the film's sentimentality, and giving it a mediocre rating, the Virgin Film Guide asserts: "What makes [this] such as enjoyable film is the mythic nature of Poitier's character. He manages to come across as a real person, while simultaneously embodying everything there is to know about morality, respect and integrity."
To Sir, with Love holds a 92% "Fresh" rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes. The film grossed $42,432,803 at the box office in the United States, yielding $19,100,000 in rentals, on a $640,000 budget, making it the eighth highest grossing picture of 1967 in the US. Poitier especially benefited from that film's success considering he agreed on a mere $30,000 fee in exchange for 10% of the gross box office and thus arranged one of the most impressive payoffs in film history. In fact, although Columbia insisted on an annual cap to Poitier of $25,000 to fulfill that percentage term, the studio was forced to revise the deal with Poitier when they calculated they would be committed to 80 years of those payments.
Awards and nominees
- Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Show: 1968
|To Sir, with Love|
|Soundtrack album by various|
|Label||Fontana Records (UK)|
|Singles from To Sir, with Love|
The soundtrack album features music by Lulu, The Mindbenders, and incidental music by Ron Grainer. The original album was released on Fontana Records. It was only re-released onto CD once in 1995. Allmusic rated it three stars out of five.
- To Sir, with Love - Lulu
- School Break Dancing "Stealing My Love from Me" - Lulu
- Thackeray meets Faculty, Then Alone
- Music from Lunch Break "Off and Running" - The Mindbenders
- Thackeray Loses Temper, Gets an Idea
- Museum Outings Montage "To Sir, with Love" - Lulu
- A Classical Lesson
- Perhaps I Could Tidy Your Desk
- Potter's loss of temper in gym
- Thackeray reads letter about job
- Thackeray and Denham box in gym
- The funeral
- End of Term Dance "It's Getting Harder all the Time" - The Mindbenders
- To Sir With Love - Lulu
- "To Sir, With Love, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
- John Walker (ed), Halliwell's Film and Video Guide 2000, London: HarperCollins, 1999, p. 845.
- David Pirie review in Johm Pym (ed), Time Out Film Guide 2009, London: Ebury, 2008, p. 1098.
- The Seventh Virgin Film Guide, London: Virgin Publishing, 1998, p. 729. Published by Cinebooks in the US. The "mediocre rating" claim is based on the authors giving the film three out of five stars.
- "To Sir, with Love, Movie Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
- Harris, Mark (2008). Pictures at a Revolution: Five Films and the Birth of a New Hollywood. Penguin Press. p. 328.
- Laurel Awards 1968
- 1968 Female New Face
- DGA 1967. Dga.org. Retrieved on 24 April 2012.
- 1968 Male New Face
- IMDB Grammy 1968
- To Sir, with Love at AllMusic