Blackboard Jungle Reviews
Apart from being one of the first of its kind, a solid lead performance and the charisma of Poitier, I don't see a lot of merit in her that warrants a rating above 2.5.
However, for all this, it is idealistic, heavy-handed and very frustrating. It just doesn't feel like the real world. The abuse the teachers suffer seems over-the-top, just for effect. Worse still, they just grin and bear it. eg A teacher gets assaulted by students and can identify them, yet doesn't identify them to the cops as he would rather "reform" them. Oh, please. They should all have gone to jail. (Plan B: a posse of teachers with baseball bats evens the score...).
Has a decent ending, but that would be it.
When you mention films like Dangerous Minds and Stand and Deliver you will most likely know pretty this entire film story wise. Since I can put my mind in the time of the film, I'm able to fully appreciate the characters and what they mean to what was then a fresh story. The good news for me also is that it's not filled with sappy music, and it's not over-dramatic to the point of being silly.
But it's not perfect... The attempts to bring racial tension to the forefront doesn't always hit their mark. One scene Ford and Sidney share a scene where they standing on the stairs and Ford's character lets lose and nearly calls Sidney's character a vile name. Some of the scenes like that are meant to have some kind of emotional punch, but sometimes they fail to do so. A times the film fits a bit forced and unconvincing. But I mostly found it to be worthwhile I'd suggest it to anyone that wants a very watchable historic drama.
If you really want to see an accurate film about the education system and how the perfect teacher should inspire children, see Blackboard Jungle's modern contemporary (a sort of grim mockery of this film), see Detachment.
(1955) Blackboard Jungle
Glenn Ford stars as Richard, a teacher with it's intentions to reform extremely rebellious and antagonistic students without much help from anybody especially from the staff! Well intentioned because it's the first film that deals with high school delinquents like watching a stage play in some parts!! However, sometimes it's a little too over the top- and demands subtley. And in this day and age, times had really changed since then making some of the characters unrelatable that if their were any troubled child to occur could easily get a suspension and can be arrested if tresspass on school property!
2 out of 4
"The film features smoldering performances by a young Sidney Poitier and Vic Morrow as tough-as-nails rebels fighting over the role of leader in Dadier's classroom. This innovative and ultimately uplifting portrayal of a generation at odds with the world served as a seminal portrait of the darker side of the 1950s" --- RT
For the reasons above and many more, catch this film. It was way ahead of its time and Glenn Ford was way ahead of his time as well for trying to act the role of a idealistic teacher of smart ass kids.
A forerunner to To Sir With Love, this film paved the way for West Side Story. Hard hitting, gritty drama.
Worth watching more than once.