"To Sir, With Love": A Bravura Performance

Essay by iluv15_endlessrainHigh School, 12th gradeA, April 2004

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Throughout the past we have seen a number of movies that revolve around teacher-student relationships in challenged neighbourhoods, but if one of these movies truly stands out, it has to be this fantastic slice-of-life drama--"To Sir, With Love". Not only has it become the template for most films of similar nature that followed, it is one of the few ones that really succeed in portraying a realistic relationship with tangible characters that have understandable motivations. This movie moves, touches and makes you laugh, all at the same time.

Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier), an out of work engineer, decides to take on a job as a teacher in London's rough East End. But the refined and cool-headed gentleman is not prepared for the rowdy group of dirty delinquents he meets on his first day of class. For many of these teenagers, school is just a break from the daily challenge of eking out life on the mean streets of London.

The graduating class, led by Denham (Christian Roberts), Pamela (Judy Geeson) and Barbara (Lulu), sets out to destroy Thackery as they did his predecessor by breaking his spirit. But Thackery, no stranger to hostility, meets the challenge by treating the students as young adults who will soon enter a world where they must stand or fall on their own. Soon, his students begin to appreciate the new treatment as grown-ups and the bond between teacher and students begins to flourish, allowing Thackeray to prepare his pupils for the life that lies ahead of them. Thackeray gradually gains respect and admiration of a rowdy class of youngsters. The sweetly sentimental finale amply displays the vocal talents of Barbara, who trills the title song.

The cast of the movie--whether it be the shell-shocked teachers or the shell-shocking pupils--is excellent and some...