Blackboard Jungle Reviews
(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
"Yeah, I've been beaten up, but I'm not beaten. I'm not beaten, and I'm not quittin'."
"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.
No other film had tackled inner city problems in schools, and the struggles teachers face to get their students to WANT to learn. Also featured racial, sexual, and social tension that were unseen at the time in Hollywood film.
Also, a film that featured a strong black lead in Hollywood in the 1950s, and launched the great Sidney Poitier. Glenn Ford plays his role fantastically, and every character is believable in this film, and each character (teacher and student) represents a demographic in the educational and social hierarchy that we can still see today.
It's never a good sign when you find yourself two, three, even at times four steps ahead of the story of a film you're watching for the first time. It's a testament to the mere "watchability" of this film that I at least give the film a fresh review.
That's in part due to a couple of dedicated performance by the lead Glen Ford as Richard Dadier, who is a first time high-school english teacher at an inner-city school full of dissident thugs and non-learners. Sidney Poitier co-stars as the potential leader of the class, and his delinquint classmate, Artie West (vic morrow), is the films most glaring antagonist.
The film presents the school kids (15 and 16 year olds) as practically carbon copies of one another, with the execption of the two leads who are naturally not suited to get along, and so don't have much dialogue together. Much of the film is pointless filler, with the teachers standing around, ranting about the problems they are having controlling their pupils. Only when Ford steps it up and delivers monologues of urgency, exasperation, and anger do these conversations become truly arresting.
That said, some of the dialogue is witty, well-timed, and mildly insightful, and the climax of the film delivers a jolting, emotive response.
Mostly, the film basically rolls out obvious scenarios in which the threatening school children have their way with the teacher, call him names, even beat him up in a dark alley; various confrontational scenarios. The film has an air of over the top-ness to it, which makes it feel like its forcing its hand. The film doesnt seem to realize i, the viewer, have gotten the point, and that it doesn't need to be presented so bluntly. At some points this becomes problematic, to the point of seeming like an unrealistic representation of it's intended views. The film wets its feet a little with issues such as racism and class struggle, as well as youth rebellion, but mostly without great effect.
The film has a flimsy and half-hearted mystery plot within it, and to not know its outcome is to be a rookie film viewer. It basically involves the sabotaging of Ford's character, and comes to involve his pregnant wife.
No, the best scenes in this film are the isolated ones, like one in which Artie helps his gang steal a newspaper stand with his teacher in plain sight, and then attempts to cover for them; a couple of other ones between Poitier and Ford are rather poignant.
The Rotten Tomatoes synopsis for this film says it has influenced such films as West Side Story and Rebel Without A Cause. I see the obvious truth in that, and the parallels. However I also think those two films are better than Blackboard Jungle.