To Sir, With Love (1967)
Critic Consensus: While it's a bit dated and overly schmaltzy, To Sir, With Love remains compelling because of Sidney Poitier's outstanding performance -- and the catchy theme song is a classic.
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as Mark Thackeray
as Pamela Dare
as Gillian Blanchard
as Barbara Pegg
as Mrs. Evans
as Moira Jackson
as Mrs. Joseph
as Miss Phillips
as Mr. Pinkus
as Mrs. Dare
as Jose Dawes
Critic Reviews for To Sir, With Love
Even the weak moments are saved by Poitier, who invests his role with a subtle warmth.
Incessant Cockney street market vignettes and shots of London buses seem to suggest that it was all primarily intended for American consumption anyway.
Audience Reviews for To Sir, With Love
It's interesting to see this movie after having seen Blackboard Jungle where Poitier plays the student, and now in this movie he's the teacher. The story is pretty good, but it's overly sentimental in the end if you ask me. It's an alright movie, though.
Sidney Poitier can go over the top (in the grand tradition of live theater, see "A Raisin in the Sun") or he can give a subtle delivery, as he does here, in To Sir With Love. It's not a terribly revolutionary film, but it's not pretending to be. It's a simple, well-thought out tale of a teacher who comes to a rough, inner city school and attempts to reach the kids by relating to them as adults rather than children. It's certainly not easy, as the kids have their own prejudices, against blacks, against authority figures, and against adults in general. An engineer by profession, Poitier takes the teaching assignment as a means of making a living while looking for work in his chosen field. It's a job that's not likely to be in high demand anyway, teaching kids in a tough east end London school. His first day, he's greeted in the faculty lounge by one of his cynical co-workers, who tells him to let the little monsters wither on the vine, as education isn't necessary in their lives. He has other ideas though, and seeks a way in which to break through to the students. Much like Poitier's earlier effort, "Lilies of the Field", it's a subtle, understated, yet totally dominating performance he delivers. So many actors (of any color) would be unable to play this role without infusing it with a certain level of martyrdom, but Poitier plays his character not as a saint, but as an intelligent and controlled man. The film is a relaxed, slow-moving, character-driven story that's never dull. In fact, it's actually quite sweet and charming.
Although the music may seem a bit dated, To Sir, with Love is not. A timeless tale about coming of age, and one of the best in the "How I stumbled into teaching" genre. Sidney Poitier is excellent as the supremely sensitive teacher of students who are in great need a sensitive teacher.
I was just watching a program that dealt with, among other things, teaching Nathaniel Hawthorne to today's generation. One thing I kept thinking is that you actually have to love a piece of literature in order to teach it. If you do not love it, your students surely never will. Good teachers are born, not made. No amount of education, no bag of tricks, can make a good teacher out of someone who is not passionate about teaching.
Judy Geeson should have had a bigger career.
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