Novelist James Clavell wrote, produced, and directed this 1967 British film (based on a novel by E.R. Braithwaite) about a rookie teacher who throws out stock lesson plans and really takes command of his unruly, adolescent... more » students in a London school. Poitier is very good as a man struggling with the extent of his commitment to the job, and even more as a teacher whose commitment is to proffering life lessons instead of academics. The spirit of this movie can be found in more recent films such as Dangerous Minds and Mr. Holland's Opus, but none is as moving as this one. Besides, the others don't have a title song performed by pop star Lulu. --Tom Keogh« less
Big fan of Sidney Poitier but this was a huge disappointment and slow for me. Eject, eject, eject!
One of Poitier's best
Paul Sayles | Japan | 03/18/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sidney Poitier has the role of a new teacher in one of Britain's secondary schools. He is given a class of students who, with maybe one or two exceptions, have reached the end of the academic road and will be leaving school at the end of term. They have no academic future and their future outside of school is not to promising. Bike messengers and shop assistants if they're lucky is what awaits these 15 year olds. (Leaving age in the mid-60s was 15.) The kids can care less about school and are just watching the days roll down until they don't have to attend anymore.Poitier's charecter quickly realizes that the best thing he can do is get these kids ready for the real world. He junks the syllabus and creates his own plan for these people to meet life with something like survival skills. Instead of maths, science and english, he teaches the world of cooking, politeness and proper grooming. These latter skills will help these kids far more than being able to diagram a sentence.I first saw this film when it first came out. I think I had a better appreication of it, as an American, becuase I had jsut returned from living in the UK and attending a secondary school, which while not like North Quay, did introduce me to some of the characters portrayed. Guys I knew were facing school leaving with prospects of working as a green grocer's assistant or a boy soldier or seaman in the Forces. So on an intellectual level, I certainly understood what Poitier's character faced. These weren't juvenile delinquents but a real segment of British society that probably still exists today. This film has just as much validity today as it did when it was first released. The cast is excellent from Poitier down to the kid with no lines but filling a desk. I found this to be a fine film at the time I first saw it and today when I saw it again after a period of several years between viewings. I recommend it to everyone who enjoys British films."
Poitier Is Masterful
Thomas Magnum | NJ, USA | 02/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"1967 was an incredible year for Sidney Poitier. He starred in three magnificent films, the Academy Award winning films, In The Heat Of the Night & Guess Who's Coming To Dinner and this superb movie. Mr. Poitier stars as Mark Thackery who is an engineer, but in need of a job accepts a teaching position at a tough West End school. His class is made up of unruly ruffians and at first they rebel against him. It becomes obvious to Thackery that these kids don't have an interest in learning normal academics and that none of them will pursue higher education so he decides to prepare them for live by giving them lessons on how to cope in the real world. He gives cooking lessons, make up lessons for the girls, takes them to museums and they develop a respect and love for each other. Judy Geeson is fabulous as Pamela Dare, a blond beauty who develops a crush on Thackery. Christian Roberts is Devin the leader of the group. He is a thug not use to rules and is constantly testing Thackery. Lulu is Babs Pegg and she does a credible acting job and supplies the film with its famous theme song. Michael Des Barres has a minor part as one of the students and he would go on to minor rock career and marry one of the most famous of all rock groupies Pamela Des Barres. Mr. Poitier is the glue that holds the film together and he is equally forceful and compassionate in his performance. To sir With Love is dated in some ways with regards to the fashions and slang language, but it's story is timeless"
Powerful, sentimental, wonderfully done
Roger J. Buffington | Huntington Beach, CA United States | 06/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Somehow I just missed this one when it came out during my youth. I recently caught it on Satellite and immediately ordered the DVD. This is a wonderful, powerful film featuring a fabulous performance by Sidney Portier. I have caught Portier in a few other films, and he was excellent in all of them, but his performance in this film is quite simply magnificent. His class, intense intelligence, and talent all shine through in this moving story of a teacher who touches a classroom full of lower-class Brits and leaves them the better for it.
The storyline is well-known, so I shan't dwell on it in this review. Who among us has not had the good fortune of encountering, in our young years, a particularly gifted teacher who perhaps sets us on the right course despite ourselves? That is what this story is about. Portier (playing Mr. Thackary, to be addressed as "Sir!") is assigned to teach a tough classroom of young working class Brits, who are about to graduate and enter the workforce. The pupils are poorly educated and thuggish. Thackary quickly realizes that their real problem is that they lack a moral and social compass, or any appreciation of the value of an education. He confronts the class, and inspires most of them to steer a more proper course in life. This is a fine story of teenage angst, growing up, and the important role that a gifted teacher can play in a young life. An underlying and inspiring theme, of course, is the fact that Portier plays a black man immersed in a nearly completely white school at a time when Western society had a long way to go as regards racial equality. He encounters prejudice, but transcends it by his talent, intelligence, and force of personality. Eventually the class comes to fully appreciate the extraordinary nature of their teacher. Similarly, Mr. Thackary, who originally had accepted the teaching post while searching for a job as an engineer, comes to know that his true calling and talent is teaching. It does not matter how hard-boiled the viewer, no one can fail to be touched by the ending of this superb film.
This is a stylish flick set more or less in the Beatles age of the 1960s. The British nature of the film, the British setting, etc. has a special fascination to the American viewer, and of course when this film was released, the British pop "invasion" was in full swing. This, combined with Portier's incomparable performance, the solid storyline of this film, and really good acting by an appealing British cast, made this low-budget film a smash hit. Of course, the theme song "To Sir With Love" by Lulu is a sentimental and touching component of the film, which became a top rock tune in the States.
I purchased my DVD in May 2005. Some reviewers apparently received copies that erroneously had a Japanese monster movie on Side B. My copy did not have this error, so the publisher has evidently corrected the problem. The sound and colors on my copy are excellent; the remastering was well-done
Too many films are rated 5 stars here on Amazon, but this is one for sure. One indicator of a truly fine film is how it stands the test of time, and whether the viewer returns to it repeatedly. This film passes these tests with flying colors (or should I say "colours"?).
Great Movie - Problem with the DVD
Mark Lacy | Milwaukee, WI United States | 11/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a fine classic movie: others have reviewed it more expertly than I could, so I will confine my remarks to the DVD I received through my Amazon order. I did not view it for about two months after receiving it. When I did watch it, I found that Side A, the full screen version, played fine. Side B, which promised a widescreen version, instead contained an entirely different movie: a dubbed version of a Japanese film 'Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla.' I am completely at a loss. So, buy the DVD, but check out Side B."