To Sir, With Love (1967)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Teen Movie, Urban Drama  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Michael Costello

An enormous hit in its time, this relatively simple and sentimental story of a teacher's seemingly miraculous ability to change his unruly students for the better is sustained by Sidney Poitier's powerful performance. He stars as a Caribbean native who finds himself working in a rundown secondary school in London's tough East End. Quickly realizing that his rebellious students need to learn self-discipline and survival skills more than anything they can find in a book, he acts accordingly. There are few actors of the first rank who have so completely embodied integrity and strength of character as has Sidney Poitier, and it is through this combination of qualities that he almost makes one believe in the rather fanciful premise of the film. But, with the exception of Pamela (Judy Geeson), the script provides the students with little in the way of characterization, as well as insisting on the patronizing notion that good manners will provide the solution to most of their problems. While the young actors are reasonably adequate, they're badly overmatched in any scene with Poitier. His ability to bring a character vibrantly to life, with all the nuances of anger, tenderness, humor, and thought at his disposal, is reason enough to see this film.