To Sir, With Love


1h 45m 1967
To Sir, With Love

Brief Synopsis

A substitute teacher changes the lives of the slum children in his class.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Release Date
Jan 1967
Premiere Information
New York opening: 14 Jun 1967
Production Company
Columbia Pictures
Country
United Kingdom
Location
London, England, United Kingdom
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel To Sir, With Love by Edward Ricardo Braithwaite (London, 1959).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 45m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

West Indian Mark Thackeray, a qualified engineer, is unable to find employment in his chosen field and takes a position as a high school teacher in London's East End slum. He finds himself confronted by a rough, unruly bunch of teenagers who have forced several of his predecessors to resign. Aware that the youngsters are basically decent and that their crude behavior and language simply reflect an indifferent upbringing, he decides to deal with their rebelliousness by treating them as adults. Discarding all the old educational rules, he throws away the class textbooks, takes the students to museums, and talks to them about marriage, rebellion, sex, and the society they will enter in a few months. Shocked by their sudden treatment as equals, they abandon their hostility toward teachers and model themselves along the standards of conduct and decency Thackeray establishes. Inevitably, the teacher suffers a few setbacks: one of the girls, Pamela Dare, imagines herself to be in love with him; the class ringleader, Denham, must be outboxed in gym class before there can be mutual respect; and the unorthodox teaching methods are sometimes ridiculed by other faculty members. Thackeray's influence is so strong that the students defy local convention by attending the funeral of a classmate's mother, even though the student previously was ostracized because of his mixed parentage. When it is time for their senior dance, the students have evolved into attractive young adults ready and eager to face the world. The dancing is interrupted when the class expresses its gratitude by having Barbara Pegg sing a song dedicated to their favorite teacher. His eyes filled with tears, Thackeray returns to his classroom and stares at a letter offering him an engineering job. As he tears it up, he meets two ill-mannered and rebellious youngsters who threaten to disrupt his class next term.

Photo Collections

To Sir, With Love - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for To Sir, With Love (1967), starring Sidney Poitier. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.

Videos

Movie Clip

To Sir With Love (1967) -- Victoria And Albert Museum The second of three uses of the title song, sung by Lulu (who plays student “Babs”) off camera, among those joining Thackeray (Sidney Poitier, title character) for a cleverly edited visit to the Victoria And Albert Museum in London, vignettes featuring Judy Geeson and Suzy Kendall bracketing, in To Sir, With Love, 1967.
To Sir With Love (1967) -- It's Getting Harder Not always remembered, another big musical moment, as the top Manchester band The Mindbenders (Ric Rothwell, Bob Lang and Eric Stewart shown) appear improbably at the inner-city London school dance, with a song by Ben Raleigh and Charles Albertine, introduced by Lulu (as Babs) a truce and dance between the title character Thackeray (Sidney Poitier) and coming-around rebel Pamela (Judy Geeson), near the ending of To Sir, With Love, 1967.
To Sir, With Love (1967) -- Black Sheep West Indian Thackeray (Sidney Poitier) into the fray, meeting colleagues Weston (Geoffrey Bayldon) and Evans (Faith Brook) on his first day at his East London high school, in James Clavell's To Sir, With Love, 1967.
To Sir, With Love (1967) -- Open, Title Song Lulu sings the smash hit theme song, by Marc London and Don Black, then Thackeray (Sidney Poitier) gets some East London in his face on a bus ride, in the opening to To Sir, With Love, 1967. directed by James Clavell, himself best known as a novelist, and from the autobiographical novel by Edward Ricardo Braithwaite.
To Sir, With Love (1967) -- You Know So Little Thackeray (Sidney Poitier) on his first day has just finished taking roll call at North Quay Secondary, facing students (Judy Geeson, Suzy Kendall, Christian Roberts et al) in To Sir, With Love, 1967.
Elvis Mitchell: Under the Influence -- (Clip) Laurence Fishburne: Poitier Laurence Fishburne on Sidney Poitier in "To Sir, With Love" (1967) and how it affected him in this out-take from TCM's Elvis Mitchell: Under the Influence.

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Release Date
Jan 1967
Premiere Information
New York opening: 14 Jun 1967
Production Company
Columbia Pictures
Country
United Kingdom
Location
London, England, United Kingdom
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel To Sir, With Love by Edward Ricardo Braithwaite (London, 1959).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 45m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Articles

To Sir With Love - To Sir, With Love


Sidney Poitier must have enjoyed 1967. He starred in three of the top-grossing films of that year, all of which still stand as prime examples of topical, mid-1960s commercial filmmaking. Although In the Heat of the Night (1967) would go on to win an Oscar® for Best Picture, and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) tackled the controversial topic of interracial romance and racism among the American elite, many people still feel that the most effective picture of the three is To Sir, with Love, a bittersweet slice of life set in working-class England. The movie was a modestly budgeted production, with Poitier working for virtually nothing, and few people felt it had a chance of becoming a box-office hit. But Poitier, writer-director James Clavell, and Columbia Pictures president Mike Frankovich believed in the little project that could, and landed a small place in film history for their commitment.

Poitier plays Mark Thackeray (the "Sir" of the title), a young teacher who is forced to accept a job in a run-down-school on London's east side. Thackeray isn't happy about his assignment, and things go from bad to worse when he discovers that his students –- in the time honored tradition of classroom movies -- are a bunch of surly jokers who couldn't care less about getting an education. Although many of the school's teachers have already surrendered hope, Thackeray decides that the only way to reach such students is to throw away the books and give them tough love, forcing them to learn self-respect and respect for the people around them. Once he has taught them that, the book learning can begin. The degree to which "Sir" turns the kids' lives around may be overly simplified and idealistic, but the film is brimming with strong performances and memorable scenes. It's definitely a crowd-pleaser.

By 1967, Poitier had developed a familiar screen persona which was so loaded with dignity, common sense, and quiet humor that many people were beginning to complain. Even The New York Times published an editorial questioning whether Poitier's innate level-headedness was what America really needed to see in an African-American actor. Surely, given the often violent struggle for equality that was playing out in streets across the country, a little more rage was in order. But one has to remember that Poitier was holding the banner for black America as its sole leading man - one misstep, and doors that had opened could slam shut.

The dignity Poitier projected not only served his characters well, but paved the way for scores of African-American performers who would follow in his footsteps. It's interesting to note that, after the film's opening sequences, Poitier's race barely receives a nod of recognition in To Sir, with Love. "Sir" is presented as an intelligent man who's trying to do the right thing for some fellow human beings. The color of his skin is all but inconsequential, a turn of events that would have been unimaginable just a few years earlier. In that sense, this modest film was groundbreaking.

Even though To Sir, with Love is usually viewed as a textbook Sidney Poitier vehicle, the actor has always felt that the entire cast deserved credit for the film's success. Nay-sayers at the studio believed that one of the many problems with E.R. Braithwaite's novel, which was adapted for the screen by James Clavell, was its working class British setting - and even Poitier had some second thoughts when confronted with the actual cast members. "The first time I met the young actors who were to represent the East London incorrigibles," he writes in his recent autobiography, This Life, "I was hard pressed to imagine them being anything other than real delinquents."

Eventually, Poitier grew to love his castmates, and was most impressed with a young actress named Lulu, who was about to launch a successful pop music career in England. "When I discovered (Lulu) could sing and dance too," he writes, "I was saddened at the thought of such a delightful and talented youngster going to waste on those mean deprived streets of East London. Little did I know that, with her round little face and her sparkling talent and energy, she was well on her way to becoming a national treasure."

The theme to To Sir, with Love, which Lulu so memorably warbles in one of the film's pivotal scenes, served as her launching pad to stardom. Written by Don Black and Mark London, it went on to top Billboard's Hot 100 chart for five weeks in 1967, and would become the number one single of the year. That's pretty impressive when one considers that the Summer of Love was also the summer of such earth-shaking new music as The Doors ("Light My Fire"), Jefferson Airplane ("Somebody to Love," "White Rabbit"), & The Who ("I Can See For Miles"). Like the movie it represents, the theme from To Sir, with Love might be a sentimental one hit wonder, but it's endearing, and people continue to embrace it.

Director: James Clavell
Producer: James Clavell
Screenplay: James Clavell (based on the novel by E.R. Braithwaite)
Cinematography: Paul Beeson
Editing: Peter Thornton
Music Composer: Ron Grainer
Music Director: Philip Martell
Art Design: Tony Woollard
Set Design: Ian Whittaker
Makeup: Jill Carpenter
Cast: Sidney Poitier (Mark Thackeray), Christian Roberts (Denham), Judy Geeson (Pamela Dare), Suzy Kendall (Gillian Blanchard), Lulu (Barbara Pegg), Faith Brook (Mrs. Evans), Geoffrey Bayldon (Weston), Edward Burnham (Florian), Gareth Robinson (Tich), Grahame Charles (Fernman), Roger Shepherd (Buckley), Patricia Routledge (Clinty), Mona Bruce (Josie Dawes), Fiona Duncan (Miss Phillips).
C-105m.

by Paul Tatara
To Sir With Love - To Sir, With Love

To Sir With Love - To Sir, With Love

Sidney Poitier must have enjoyed 1967. He starred in three of the top-grossing films of that year, all of which still stand as prime examples of topical, mid-1960s commercial filmmaking. Although In the Heat of the Night (1967) would go on to win an Oscar® for Best Picture, and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) tackled the controversial topic of interracial romance and racism among the American elite, many people still feel that the most effective picture of the three is To Sir, with Love, a bittersweet slice of life set in working-class England. The movie was a modestly budgeted production, with Poitier working for virtually nothing, and few people felt it had a chance of becoming a box-office hit. But Poitier, writer-director James Clavell, and Columbia Pictures president Mike Frankovich believed in the little project that could, and landed a small place in film history for their commitment. Poitier plays Mark Thackeray (the "Sir" of the title), a young teacher who is forced to accept a job in a run-down-school on London's east side. Thackeray isn't happy about his assignment, and things go from bad to worse when he discovers that his students –- in the time honored tradition of classroom movies -- are a bunch of surly jokers who couldn't care less about getting an education. Although many of the school's teachers have already surrendered hope, Thackeray decides that the only way to reach such students is to throw away the books and give them tough love, forcing them to learn self-respect and respect for the people around them. Once he has taught them that, the book learning can begin. The degree to which "Sir" turns the kids' lives around may be overly simplified and idealistic, but the film is brimming with strong performances and memorable scenes. It's definitely a crowd-pleaser. By 1967, Poitier had developed a familiar screen persona which was so loaded with dignity, common sense, and quiet humor that many people were beginning to complain. Even The New York Times published an editorial questioning whether Poitier's innate level-headedness was what America really needed to see in an African-American actor. Surely, given the often violent struggle for equality that was playing out in streets across the country, a little more rage was in order. But one has to remember that Poitier was holding the banner for black America as its sole leading man - one misstep, and doors that had opened could slam shut. The dignity Poitier projected not only served his characters well, but paved the way for scores of African-American performers who would follow in his footsteps. It's interesting to note that, after the film's opening sequences, Poitier's race barely receives a nod of recognition in To Sir, with Love. "Sir" is presented as an intelligent man who's trying to do the right thing for some fellow human beings. The color of his skin is all but inconsequential, a turn of events that would have been unimaginable just a few years earlier. In that sense, this modest film was groundbreaking. Even though To Sir, with Love is usually viewed as a textbook Sidney Poitier vehicle, the actor has always felt that the entire cast deserved credit for the film's success. Nay-sayers at the studio believed that one of the many problems with E.R. Braithwaite's novel, which was adapted for the screen by James Clavell, was its working class British setting - and even Poitier had some second thoughts when confronted with the actual cast members. "The first time I met the young actors who were to represent the East London incorrigibles," he writes in his recent autobiography, This Life, "I was hard pressed to imagine them being anything other than real delinquents." Eventually, Poitier grew to love his castmates, and was most impressed with a young actress named Lulu, who was about to launch a successful pop music career in England. "When I discovered (Lulu) could sing and dance too," he writes, "I was saddened at the thought of such a delightful and talented youngster going to waste on those mean deprived streets of East London. Little did I know that, with her round little face and her sparkling talent and energy, she was well on her way to becoming a national treasure." The theme to To Sir, with Love, which Lulu so memorably warbles in one of the film's pivotal scenes, served as her launching pad to stardom. Written by Don Black and Mark London, it went on to top Billboard's Hot 100 chart for five weeks in 1967, and would become the number one single of the year. That's pretty impressive when one considers that the Summer of Love was also the summer of such earth-shaking new music as The Doors ("Light My Fire"), Jefferson Airplane ("Somebody to Love," "White Rabbit"), & The Who ("I Can See For Miles"). Like the movie it represents, the theme from To Sir, with Love might be a sentimental one hit wonder, but it's endearing, and people continue to embrace it. Director: James Clavell Producer: James Clavell Screenplay: James Clavell (based on the novel by E.R. Braithwaite) Cinematography: Paul Beeson Editing: Peter Thornton Music Composer: Ron Grainer Music Director: Philip Martell Art Design: Tony Woollard Set Design: Ian Whittaker Makeup: Jill Carpenter Cast: Sidney Poitier (Mark Thackeray), Christian Roberts (Denham), Judy Geeson (Pamela Dare), Suzy Kendall (Gillian Blanchard), Lulu (Barbara Pegg), Faith Brook (Mrs. Evans), Geoffrey Bayldon (Weston), Edward Burnham (Florian), Gareth Robinson (Tich), Grahame Charles (Fernman), Roger Shepherd (Buckley), Patricia Routledge (Clinty), Mona Bruce (Josie Dawes), Fiona Duncan (Miss Phillips). C-105m. by Paul Tatara

Quotes

All you boys, out. Girls stay where you are. Out.
- Mark Thackeray
I am sick of your foul language, your crude behavior and your sluttish manner. There are certain things a decent woman keeps private, and only a filthy slut would have done this and those who stood by and encouraged her are just as bad I don't care who's responsible you're all to blame. Now, I am going to leave this room for five minutes by which time that disgusting object had better be removed and the windows open to clear away the stench. If you must play these filthy games, do them in your homes, and not in my classroom!
- Mark Thackeray
Do you two
- Pamela Dare
Can you to shake?
- Pamela Dare
Who does he think he is there? Cheeky devil.
- Barbara Peg
And he had learned to love, I know not why, for this in such as him seemed strange of mood. But thus it was and though in solitude's small part the nipped affections have to grow, in him this glowed when all beside had ceased to glow.
- Pamela Dare

Trivia

The film was held from release for more than a year until Columbia Pictures decided to open it in Westwood, California in the summer of 1967 where it really broke through (see box office and business).

Notes

Location scenes filmed in London's East End. Opened in London in September 1967.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Summer June 14, 1967

Released in United States Summer June 14, 1967