Urban Cinefile  
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Friday December 13, 2019 


Unable to find employment as an engineer because of his skin colour, Mark Thakeray (Sidney Poitier) accepts a teaching position at North Quay Secondary, a notoriously tough East End school. He quickly discovers his class to be poorly educated and hostile toward authority figures. Determined to succeed he abandons traditional teaching methods and uses his own life experience to educate his students. His unorthodox approach gradually earns respect and inspires Pamela Dare (Judy Geeson) to develop a schoolgirl crush on him. At the end-of-school dance Thakeray receives an emotional tribute sung by class representative Barbara Pegg (Lulu)...'To Sir With Love'.

"Sure, we all know films like Dangerous Minds and Class Of 1984 tell the real story about classrooms populated by idealistic teachers and tough students but no matter how dated it seems there's something appealing about To Sir With With Love. It's almost criminally sentimental at times, Sidney Poitier's character is impossibly wise about every aspect of human existence and his rowdy rebels are subdued in record time.....yet it works. The charisma of Poitier and the energetic performances of a groovy-looking cast of high school hellcats (some of whom look like they've repeated year 12 at least 5 times) compensate for the shortcomings and Lulu's catchy title song still rates as a pop classic, with or without the film tie-in. It's also a reminder of the luminous Suzy Kendall who shines as the sympathetic fellow teacher with her own crush on the handsome Thackeray. Kendall only appeared in a handful of films, including The Bird With The Crystal Plumage (1969) and 30 Is A Dangerous Age, Cynthia (1967) - but she adds sparkle to every scene she's in. To Sir, With Love was directed by Australian James Clavell, also the author of thick books Tai Pan and Shogun. It was his biggest success behind the camera and turned out to be one of the highest grossing films of the year. Columbia Pictures couldn't understand its success and even tried market research to unlock the secret. Some films have flaws which simply don't matter all that much in the end. To Sir With Love, which inspired the British TV sit-coms Please Sir, The Fenn St Gang and Welcome Back Kotter, is one of them."
Richard Kuipers

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CAST: Sidney Poitier, Judy Geeson, Suzy Kendall, Lulu, Christian Roberts, Chris Chittell

DIRECTOR: James Clavell

PRODUCER: James Clavell

SCRIPT: James Clavell, E.R. Braithwaite


EDITOR: Peter Thornton

MUSIC: Ron Grainer


RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes

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