To Sir with Love (1967) – full review!
One of only a handful of films produced and directed by writer James Clavell who later won an Emmy for his 1980 TV miniseries Shogun. Clavell adapted an E.R. Braithwaite for this above average drama that enabled Sidney Poitier to come full circle: from being a disruptive student of Glenn Ford’s in Richard Brooks’s Blackboard Jungle (1955) to playing a British Guana-born engineer educated novice teacher of an equally challenging classroom of undisciplined English teenagers in this one. The title song with disjointed lyrics that became a hit is warbled by Lulu who plays one of the students. Christian Roberts plays Denham the toughest man among the boys come young men Judy Geeson plays Pamela an attractive co-ed that gets a crush on the teacher.
After having limited success with his unruly students Mark Thackeray (Poitier) decides to toss the curriculum’s books in the garbage can and open up a dialogue with them allowing the topics of discussion to be of their choosing but directing it towards life after high school. However he insists that they use manners addressing him as “sir” and the girls as “miss” etc.. Thackeray petitions the principal to allow him to take his class on a cultural field trip to a museum and is permitted to do so as long as he can convince another faculty member to go along as a chaperon. The school’s most recent newcomer besides Mark the pretty blond and bespeckled Gillian (Suzy Kendall) agrees. This sequence is realized as a series of still photographs accompanied by 1960’s era pop music. Everyone (including the parents) notices a marked change in Sir’s students their improvement is palpable. While there are some bumps along the way which temporarily causes some mistrust between them and an issue of race (naturally) is introduced the film’s end (though predictable) is emotionally fulfilling.