Up the Down Staircase


2h 4m 1967
Up the Down Staircase

Brief Synopsis

A novice schoolteacher faces delinquent students and apathetic administrators in a tough inner city high school.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1967
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 19 Jul 1967
Production Company
Park Place Productions
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures
Country
United States
Location
New York City, New York, USA
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1965).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 4m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

Armed with only a college degree and her youthful idealism, Sylvia Barrett arrives at Calvin Coolidge High School to begin her career as an English teacher. The school is located in a New York City slum area where the overcrowded classes are filled with unruly and often hostile teenagers from underprivileged families. Further, Sylvia must contend with seemingly endless paperwork and fellow teachers whose experience has made them either indifferent or cynical. Sylvia initially retains her optimism; but as the school year progresses, she finds herself unable to cope with the needs of her students. The delinquent but highly intelligent Joe Ferone misinterprets her interest in him and tries to seduce her; love-sick Alice Blake writes a love letter to one of the male teachers, Paul Barringer, and then attempts suicide when he callously corrects the grammar in her letter; and Ed Williams, an embittered black youth, drops out of school because he feels that no amount of education will enable him to overcome white prejudice. Toward the end of the school year, Sylvia believes that she is a failure and submits her resignation. However, during a mock trial in her classroom, Jose Rodriguez, a previously shy and reticent Puerto Rican boy, suddenly assumes the authority and confidence of a court judge and handles himself with new self-assurance. Realizing that despite all the frustration and heartbreak she has reached at least one of her students, Sylvia decides to remain at Coolidge High.

Videos

Movie Clip

Up The Down Staircase (1967) - How Do We Get In? Guerrilla feel from the Mulligan-Pakula (Robert and Alan J., famous for To Kill A Mockingbird, 1962) team opening their inner-city high school drama based on the best-selling semi-autobiographical novel by Bel Kaufman, with Sandy Dennis in her first movie leading role, Up The Down Staircase, 1967.
Up The Down Staircase (1967) - Watch For Latent Maladjustments Scrambling on the first day of class, new teacher Sylvia Barrett (Sandy Dennis) encounters Broadway regulars, Jean Stapleton in the office, Florence Stanley the counselor and Sorrell Booke the principal, director Alan J. Pakula working on location at Haaren High School in Manhattan, early in Up The Down Staircase, 1967.
Up The Down Staircase (1967) - The Limitless Realm At lunch on the first day at her New York public high school, new teacher Sylvia (Sandy Dennis) with colleagues Ruth White, Eileen Heckart, Patrick Bedford as Barringer, early in Up The Down Staircase, 1967, from director and producer Robert Mulligan and Alan J. Pakula.
Up The Down Staircase (1967) - There's One Every Year After a classroom standoff with delinquent-but-gifted student Joe Ferrone (Jeff Howard), novice Manhattan high school English teacher Sylvia (Sandy Dennis) meets him again in the stairwell, in Up The Down Staircase, 1967, based on the novel by Berlin-born former New York teacher Bel Kaufman.
Up The Down Staircase (1967) - To Take Us Lands Away Nervous on her first day teaching Manhattan public high school English, Sylvia (Sandy Dennis) works with Harry (Salvatore Rasa), Jose Rodriguez (his real name) and Alice (Ellen O’Mara), taking a run at an Emily Dickinson poem, early in Up The Down Staircase, 1967, from producer Alan J. Pakula and director Robert Mulligan.

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1967
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 19 Jul 1967
Production Company
Park Place Productions
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures
Country
United States
Location
New York City, New York, USA
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1965).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 4m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Articles

Up the Down Staircase (1967) -


Bel Kaufman's autobiographical 1965 novel Up the Down Staircase spent 64 weeks on The New York Times' bestseller list (five months of that at number one) and when published in paperback sold 1.5 million copies in only thirty days. Written in epistolary form as a series of letters, journal entries, and official memoranda, the novel depicted the Kafkaesque absurdities of teaching in the American educational system of the mid-1960s and was closer in spirit to Catch 22 than To Sir with Love. Adapted for the big screen by the writer-producer team of Robert Mulligan and Alan Pakula (whose 1962 adaptation of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird had been a big hit), Up the Down Staircase (1967) was a star vehicle for Sandy Dennis. Fresh from an Oscar win as Best Supporting Actress in Mike Nichols' Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), Dennis brought her trademark fragility to bear as an idealistic young teacher who accepts a teaching position at a troubled inner city school. Filming on location in Manhattan (midtown's Haaren High School stood in for the interior of the fictive Calvin Coolidge High, while the playgrounds of Harlem's Benjamin Franklin High School did for the exteriors) allowed Mulligan to avail himself of a wealth of Broadway talent, including such busy New York actors as Eileen Heckart, Jean Stapleton, Roy Poole, and Sorrell Booke; look for Esther Rolle, Bud Cort (in his feature film debut as a student), and Bel Kaufman herself in small, uncredited roles.

By Richard Harland Smith
Up The Down Staircase (1967) -

Up the Down Staircase (1967) -

Bel Kaufman's autobiographical 1965 novel Up the Down Staircase spent 64 weeks on The New York Times' bestseller list (five months of that at number one) and when published in paperback sold 1.5 million copies in only thirty days. Written in epistolary form as a series of letters, journal entries, and official memoranda, the novel depicted the Kafkaesque absurdities of teaching in the American educational system of the mid-1960s and was closer in spirit to Catch 22 than To Sir with Love. Adapted for the big screen by the writer-producer team of Robert Mulligan and Alan Pakula (whose 1962 adaptation of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird had been a big hit), Up the Down Staircase (1967) was a star vehicle for Sandy Dennis. Fresh from an Oscar win as Best Supporting Actress in Mike Nichols' Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), Dennis brought her trademark fragility to bear as an idealistic young teacher who accepts a teaching position at a troubled inner city school. Filming on location in Manhattan (midtown's Haaren High School stood in for the interior of the fictive Calvin Coolidge High, while the playgrounds of Harlem's Benjamin Franklin High School did for the exteriors) allowed Mulligan to avail himself of a wealth of Broadway talent, including such busy New York actors as Eileen Heckart, Jean Stapleton, Roy Poole, and Sorrell Booke; look for Esther Rolle, Bud Cort (in his feature film debut as a student), and Bel Kaufman herself in small, uncredited roles. By Richard Harland Smith

TCM Remembers - Eileen Heckart


TCM REMEMBERS EILEEN HECKART, DAVID SWIFT & PAUL LANDRES

Eileen Heckart, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Butterflies Are Free (1972), died December 31st at the age of 82. Heckart was born in 1919 in Columbus, Ohio and became interested in acting while in college. She moved to NYC in 1942, married her college boyfriend the following year (a marriage that lasted until his death in 1995) and started acting on stage. Soon she was appearing in live dramatic TV such as The Philco Television Playhouse and Studio One. Her first feature film appearance was as a waitress in Bus Stop (1956) but it was her role as a grieving mother in the following year's The Bad Seed that really attracted notice and an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Heckart spent more time on Broadway and TV, making only occasional film appearances in Heller in Pink Tights (1960), No Way to Treat a Lady (1968) and Heartbreak Ridge (1986). She won one Emmy and was nominated for five others.

TCM REMEMBERS DAVID SWIFT, 1919-2001

Director David Swift died December 31st at the age of 82. Swift was best-known for the 1967 film version of the Broadway musical, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (he also appears in a cameo), Good Neighbor Sam (1964) starring Jack Lemmon and The Parent Trap (1961), all of which he also co-wrote. Swift was born in Minnesota but moved to California in the early 30s so he could work for Disney as an assistant animator, contributing to a string of classics from Dumbo (1941) to Fantasia (1940) to Snow White (1937). Swift also worked with madcap animator Tex Avery at MGM. He later became a TV and radio comedy writer and by the 1950s was directing episodes of TV series like Wagon Train, The Rifleman, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Playhouse 90 and others. Swift also created Mr. Peepers (1952), one of TV's first hit series and a multiple Emmy nominee. Swift's first feature film was Pollyanna (1960) for which he recorded a DVD commentary last year. Swift twice received Writers Guild nominations for work on How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and The Parent Trap.

TCM REMEMBERS PAUL LANDRES, 1912-2001

Prolific B-movie director Paul Landres died December 26th at the age of 89. Landres was born in New York City in 1912 but his family soon moved to Los Angeles where he grew up. He spent a couple of years attending UCLA before becoming an assistant editor at Universal in the 1931. He became a full editor in 1937, working on such films as Pittsburgh (1942) and I Shot Jesse James (1949). His first directorial effort was 1949's Grand Canyon but he soon became fast and reliable, alternating B-movies with TV episodes.. His best known films are Go, Johnny, Go! (1958) with appearances by Chuck Berry and Jackie Wilson, the moody The Return of Dracula (1958) and the 1957 cult favorite The Vampire. His TV credits run to some 350 episodes for such series as Adam 12, Bonanza, Death Valley Days and numerous others. Landres was co-founder in 1950 of the honorary society American Cinema Editors.

BUDD BOETTICHER 1916-2001

When director Budd Boetticher died on November 29th, American film lost another master. Though not a household name, Boetticher made crisp, tightly wound movies with more substance and emotional depth than was apparent at first glance. Instead of a flashy style, Boetticher preferred one imaginatively simple and almost elegant at times. Because of this approach films like The Tall T (1957), Decision at Sundown (1957), The Bullfighter and the Lady (1951) and Ride Lonesome (1960) have withstood the test of time while more blatantly ambitious films now seem like period pieces.

Budd was born Oscar Boetticher in Chicago on July 29th, 1916. With a father who sold hardware, Boetticher didn't come from a particularly artistic background. In college he boxed and played football before graduating and heading to Mexico to follow what's surely one of the most unusual ways to enter the film industry: as a professional matador. That's what led an old friend to get Boetticher hired as a bullfighting advisor on the 1941 version of Blood and Sand. Boetticher quickly took other small jobs in Hollywood before becoming an assistant director for films like Cover Girl. In 1944, he directed his first film, the Boston Blackie entry One Mysterious Night. Boetticher made a series of other B-movies, like the underrated film noir Behind Locked Doors (1948), through the rest of the decade.

Boetticher really hit his stride in the 50s when he began to get higher profile assignments, including the semi-autobiographical The Bullfighter and the Lady in 1951 which resulted in Boetticher's only Oscar nomination, for Best Writing. Sam Peckinpah later said he saw the film ten times. Other highlights of this period include Seminole (1953) (one of the first Hollywood films sympathetic to American Indians), the stylishly tight thriller The Killer Is Loose (1956) and the minor classic Horizons West (1952). In the late 50s, Boetticher also started directing TV episodes of series like Maverick and 77 Sunset Strip.

In 1956, Boetticher started a string of films that really established his reputation. These six Westerns starring Randolph Scott are known as the Ranown films after the production company named after Randolph Scott and producer Harry Joe Brown. Actually the first, Seven Men from Now (1956), was produced by a different company but all of them fit together, pushing the idea of the lone cowboy seeking revenge into new territory. The sharp Decision at Sundown twists Western cliche into one of the bleakest endings to slip through the Hollywood gates. The Tall T examines the genre's violent tendencies while Ride Lonesome and Buchanan Rides Alone (1958) have titles appropriate to their Beckett-like stories. The final film, Comanche Station, appeared in 1960.

That was the same year Boetticher made one of the best gangster films, The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond, before watching everything fall apart. He and his wife decided to make a documentary about the famous matador Carlos Arruza and headed to Mexico. There Boetticher saw Arruza and much of the film crew die in an accident, almost died himself from an illness, separated from and divorced his wife (Debra Paget), and then spent time in various jails and even briefly a mental institution. This harrowing experience left him bankrupt but he still managed to complete the film, Arruza (1968), which gathered acclaim from the few who've been able to see it.

Boetticher managed to make just one more film, My Kingdom For... (1985), a self-reflexive documentary about raising Andalusian horses. He also made a cameo appearance in the Mel Gibson-Kurt Russell suspense thriller, Tequila Sunrise (1988). He died from complications from surgery at the age of 85.

By Lang Thompson

TCM Remembers - Eileen Heckart

TCM REMEMBERS EILEEN HECKART, DAVID SWIFT & PAUL LANDRES Eileen Heckart, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Butterflies Are Free (1972), died December 31st at the age of 82. Heckart was born in 1919 in Columbus, Ohio and became interested in acting while in college. She moved to NYC in 1942, married her college boyfriend the following year (a marriage that lasted until his death in 1995) and started acting on stage. Soon she was appearing in live dramatic TV such as The Philco Television Playhouse and Studio One. Her first feature film appearance was as a waitress in Bus Stop (1956) but it was her role as a grieving mother in the following year's The Bad Seed that really attracted notice and an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Heckart spent more time on Broadway and TV, making only occasional film appearances in Heller in Pink Tights (1960), No Way to Treat a Lady (1968) and Heartbreak Ridge (1986). She won one Emmy and was nominated for five others. TCM REMEMBERS DAVID SWIFT, 1919-2001 Director David Swift died December 31st at the age of 82. Swift was best-known for the 1967 film version of the Broadway musical, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (he also appears in a cameo), Good Neighbor Sam (1964) starring Jack Lemmon and The Parent Trap (1961), all of which he also co-wrote. Swift was born in Minnesota but moved to California in the early 30s so he could work for Disney as an assistant animator, contributing to a string of classics from Dumbo (1941) to Fantasia (1940) to Snow White (1937). Swift also worked with madcap animator Tex Avery at MGM. He later became a TV and radio comedy writer and by the 1950s was directing episodes of TV series like Wagon Train, The Rifleman, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Playhouse 90 and others. Swift also created Mr. Peepers (1952), one of TV's first hit series and a multiple Emmy nominee. Swift's first feature film was Pollyanna (1960) for which he recorded a DVD commentary last year. Swift twice received Writers Guild nominations for work on How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and The Parent Trap. TCM REMEMBERS PAUL LANDRES, 1912-2001 Prolific B-movie director Paul Landres died December 26th at the age of 89. Landres was born in New York City in 1912 but his family soon moved to Los Angeles where he grew up. He spent a couple of years attending UCLA before becoming an assistant editor at Universal in the 1931. He became a full editor in 1937, working on such films as Pittsburgh (1942) and I Shot Jesse James (1949). His first directorial effort was 1949's Grand Canyon but he soon became fast and reliable, alternating B-movies with TV episodes.. His best known films are Go, Johnny, Go! (1958) with appearances by Chuck Berry and Jackie Wilson, the moody The Return of Dracula (1958) and the 1957 cult favorite The Vampire. His TV credits run to some 350 episodes for such series as Adam 12, Bonanza, Death Valley Days and numerous others. Landres was co-founder in 1950 of the honorary society American Cinema Editors. BUDD BOETTICHER 1916-2001 When director Budd Boetticher died on November 29th, American film lost another master. Though not a household name, Boetticher made crisp, tightly wound movies with more substance and emotional depth than was apparent at first glance. Instead of a flashy style, Boetticher preferred one imaginatively simple and almost elegant at times. Because of this approach films like The Tall T (1957), Decision at Sundown (1957), The Bullfighter and the Lady (1951) and Ride Lonesome (1960) have withstood the test of time while more blatantly ambitious films now seem like period pieces. Budd was born Oscar Boetticher in Chicago on July 29th, 1916. With a father who sold hardware, Boetticher didn't come from a particularly artistic background. In college he boxed and played football before graduating and heading to Mexico to follow what's surely one of the most unusual ways to enter the film industry: as a professional matador. That's what led an old friend to get Boetticher hired as a bullfighting advisor on the 1941 version of Blood and Sand. Boetticher quickly took other small jobs in Hollywood before becoming an assistant director for films like Cover Girl. In 1944, he directed his first film, the Boston Blackie entry One Mysterious Night. Boetticher made a series of other B-movies, like the underrated film noir Behind Locked Doors (1948), through the rest of the decade. Boetticher really hit his stride in the 50s when he began to get higher profile assignments, including the semi-autobiographical The Bullfighter and the Lady in 1951 which resulted in Boetticher's only Oscar nomination, for Best Writing. Sam Peckinpah later said he saw the film ten times. Other highlights of this period include Seminole (1953) (one of the first Hollywood films sympathetic to American Indians), the stylishly tight thriller The Killer Is Loose (1956) and the minor classic Horizons West (1952). In the late 50s, Boetticher also started directing TV episodes of series like Maverick and 77 Sunset Strip. In 1956, Boetticher started a string of films that really established his reputation. These six Westerns starring Randolph Scott are known as the Ranown films after the production company named after Randolph Scott and producer Harry Joe Brown. Actually the first, Seven Men from Now (1956), was produced by a different company but all of them fit together, pushing the idea of the lone cowboy seeking revenge into new territory. The sharp Decision at Sundown twists Western cliche into one of the bleakest endings to slip through the Hollywood gates. The Tall T examines the genre's violent tendencies while Ride Lonesome and Buchanan Rides Alone (1958) have titles appropriate to their Beckett-like stories. The final film, Comanche Station, appeared in 1960. That was the same year Boetticher made one of the best gangster films, The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond, before watching everything fall apart. He and his wife decided to make a documentary about the famous matador Carlos Arruza and headed to Mexico. There Boetticher saw Arruza and much of the film crew die in an accident, almost died himself from an illness, separated from and divorced his wife (Debra Paget), and then spent time in various jails and even briefly a mental institution. This harrowing experience left him bankrupt but he still managed to complete the film, Arruza (1968), which gathered acclaim from the few who've been able to see it. Boetticher managed to make just one more film, My Kingdom For... (1985), a self-reflexive documentary about raising Andalusian horses. He also made a cameo appearance in the Mel Gibson-Kurt Russell suspense thriller, Tequila Sunrise (1988). He died from complications from surgery at the age of 85. By Lang Thompson

Quotes

Disregard all bells.
- Mrs. Finch
Ever tried "punctuation sex", Henrietta? Hyphens are kisses, commas are maybes, and a period is a definite no. And then of course, there's the... limitless realms of semicolons and apostrophes. I shudder to think what an exclamation point might mean.
- Paul Barringer
When I finally get the chance, the first few precious minutes to talk to them about something I want them to understand, and I find that I am some kind of enemy... the butt of some enormous joke.
- Sylvia Barrett
My book is...
- Lou Martin
The book you read.
- Sylvia Barrett
Yeah. The title is called "MacBeth," by Shakespeare.
- Lou Martin
The title 'is.'
- Sylvia Barrett
"... MacBeth."
- Lou Martin
I give them tea. At least that's something.
- Nurse Frances Eagen

Trivia

Bel Kaufman, the author of the book on which this movie was based, appeared as an extra in the movie, and served as a technical advisor.

The U.S. State Department submitted this film to the 1967 Moscow Film Festival, in order to contradict Soviet propaganda, which implied that all American schools were racially segregated.

Like Dangerous Minds (1995) 28 years later, this movie was filmed in a real-life urban high school building, using real high school kids from the neighborhood as extras, many of whom were believed to be armed on the set.

The winter scenes were filmed on a hot day in August 1966.

Notes

Location scenes filmed in New York City.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1967

Screen debut for Frances Sternhagen.

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1967