Instant Classic

Paramount Theatre's Summer 2000 Series

TO SIR WITH LOVE (1967)

D: James Clavell; with Sydney Poitier, Judy Geeson, Christian Roberts, Suzy Kendall, Lulu, Michael Des Barres. (NR, 105 min.)

This movie is about many things -- teen angst, race relations, and poverty. But what it's really about is teased hair, heavy eyeliner, and miniskirts. And the title song, of course. Who could ever forget the gushing sentimentality of Lulu warbling about crayons and perfume? It is a charmer of a movie that a fresh cast of young Brits breathe life into. Released at a time when the world was captivated by all things British, it was relatively daring at the time it was made, a low-budget film that raked it in at the box office. Poitier, as in Lilies of the Field, wisely accepted a low salary in exchange for a share of the profits. But the biggest profit of all is his portrayal of the East End schoolteacher, Mark Thackery, who quickly learns that his students need a different kind of education than that of a textbook. The film has been, unfairly or not, relentlessly compared to The Blackboard Jungle, and it is a blood relation to Up the Down Staircase and Dangerous Minds. But none of them have the sweetness of Judy Geeson, as Thackery's irrepressible student Pamela Dare. At the end of the movie, when Thackery and Dare dance together, racial, social, and philosophical barriers are smashed, and hope springs eternal.

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