Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Glenn Ford, Anne Francis, Vic Morrow, Louis Calhern, Sidney Poitier
Director: Richard Brooks
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The Rock and Roll Era Begins
Smallchief | 04/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this movie in 1955. It was one of the best in that age in the genre about alienated youth, dealing as it did with ghetto kids and minorities rather than the spoiled brats of "Rebel Without a Cause." Most of all, the movie introduced me and a million other kids to Rock and Roll. I remember listening spellbound to "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and the Comets at the end of the movie. Something, I perceived in my little noodle brain, had changed -- and nothing would ever be the same again."
SHOCKING Film for 1955 Remains Taut to this Day
gobirds2 | New England | 05/31/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Said to provoke violence, this film about 1955's brutal and vicious NYC school system remains taut and effective to this day. The direction by Richard Brooks is groundbreaking. Based on Evan Hunter's novel, Brooks tackles the idea of contempt for authority within the school system as a problem with a distinct solution. That solution comes in the form of an idealistic new teacher played with effective restraint by Glenn Ford. Sidney Poitier and Vic Morrow portray the two major protagonists from the class of intimidating and delinquent juveniles. Sidney Poitier is the one weak link that Ford realizes he can reach. Poitier is antagonistic and disturbingly introverted but not truly dangerous. Vic Morrow is malicious and a real threat. Vic Morrow's performance is intense, riveting and absolutely convincing. Vic Morrow's talent as one of our finest actors seems long forgotten and certainly has gone unrecognized for too long now. His performance here is testament to that and adds to the shock value of this film. The very effective acting is convincing setting a benchmark for this genre on society's problems in urban education. In all, that is the point of this film. It is all about the strong and the weak be they teacher or student trying to survive in this setting.
Rock around the clock
Steven Hellerstedt | 06/26/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Mix a dash of earnest social consciousness, a pinch of rock `n roll ("One, two, three o'clock, four o'clock ROCK..."), a dollop of exploitation (A shock story of today's high school hoodlums!) and you've got the recipe for BLACKBOARD JUNGLE (1955), director Richard Brooks' highly successful and award winning movie.
BLACKBOARD JUNGLE is the story of Richard Dadier (Glenn Ford), a rookie teacher newly hired at Emmanuel High School, an inner-city school that one of the veteran teachers aptly, we soon learn, refers to as a `garbage can.' Dadier - immediately and inevitably `Daddy-O' to his class full of juvenile delinquents - is an idealist of sorts who, against the stream, believes that he can reach and teach the kids. In the class is a glowering Vic Morrow and an apathetic Sidney Poitier - Poitier's character is apathetic, that is - and various other representatives of inner-city hoodlums. It's in this corrosive environment that Dadier's liberal idealism is buffeted and, finally, put to the acid test. Ford, Morrow and Poitier are outstanding in a story that seems quite dated today. Although it presents itself as an unblinking exposé of juvenile delinquency, there's an awful lot missing from this one - parents are never seen, nor students' homes nor, surprisingly, does there seem to be any female students. Perhaps, as is suggested on the commentary track, the school was originally supposed a trade school but changed when the powers that be checked what side their bread was buttered on. As it is, there's seems to be no reason given as to why these kids are so rotten, or whether anyone but Dadier really cares about them.
Still, BLACKBOARD JUNGLE is a great leap forward from Hollywood's last examination of troubled youth, namely the Dead End Kids, aka the East End Kids, aka the Bowery Boys. The kid/boys began their career in the 1930s in a number of Warner Brothers' tough guy movies - Dead End with Humphrey Bogart, Angels With Dirty Faces with Jimmy Cagney, They Made Me a Criminal with John Garfield - before des-ing and dos-ing themselves into America's heart as the Bowery Boys in a popular and prolific series of b-flicks in the 40s and 50s. If the Bowery Boys were wise cracking punks whose golden hearts were only a little obscured by the grime of the slums, director Richard Brooks's jungle denizens are outright sociopaths. Rapists and murderers, stalkers and racial bigots, urban terrorists with a blood lust for intimidation and a virulent disdain for authority.
Mazursky, Farr, Ford and Freeman tell us, on the comfortable and reminiscence filled commentary track, that Robert Taylor and Mickey Rooney (!?) were considered for the lead role. It's impossible to imagine anyone but Glenn Ford in the part. Ford ably conveys the gentle idealism and intelligence that the untested Dadier begins with. Ford also had the toughness, the ability to express contained rage that burbles to the surface after Dadier has spent a couple of semesters in the garbage can. In short, he was perfect for the part. BLACKBOARD JUNGLE may not contain Ford's best performance, but it's the best I've seen.
If the movie doesn't deliver the promised penetrating insight into juvenile delinquency, it dealt honestly with its subject and opened the topic up for a nation-wide discussion.
Besides the commentary track, the dvd also includes a trailer and a pretty weak MGM cartoon titled Blackboard Jumble and featuring Droopy. Ah, well, I guess it's nice that they included a cartoon so directly related to the feature presentation.