Saturday, February 18, 2012

Film Review: To Sir, With Love (1967)

To Sir, with Love
One of Sidney's best.
Photo Courtesy of
     TCMDb: A substitute teacher changes the lives of the slum children in his class.

     The idea of becoming a teacher has always hovered around at the back of my mind as long as I can remember. It was never what I really wanted to do, however. Not even when I watched those Lifetime based-on-a-true-story TV movies about teachers taking a class of ill-reputed students, many with a terrible home life, and make them into star students that feel accomplished and loved. Sure, it tugged at my heartstrings, and I thought for a moment, I'd like to do something like that in my life, but never before did I ever really give the idea of becoming a teacher serious thought.
     There is racial and social tension. While the racial tension was quite obvious, after all, a black man teaching mostly white students? Not too hard to detect. The social tension, in my personal belief, was a lot more subtle. Sure, all the students were hard off and that's made quite obvious, but it's still more subtle. The glances, the smirks, the disbelief that Sideny could ever straighten them out, all of it very subtle.
     I started giving it serious thought this year though, large part due to the fact that I had my dreams of becoming a medical examiner dashed when I took chemistry the first part of the semester and completely stinking at it. It was then that I started thinking of everything that I really, really liked doing and learning. A lot of things popped up, but the two serious ones that stayed in my mind was that I love English, I love to read, love to write, and that I'm a history nut. I love learning all that stuff. So then I had to think what career really gave me a chance to do. Well, the only thing I could think of was becoming a teacher. I thought at first that the idea would make me cringe, but to my amazement, once I had the idea, I found that I quite liked it. For the most part, I like teachers. And the few that I haven't, well . . . You win some, you lose some, I guess.
Sir and the students.
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     When I came up with the idea to do a Star of the Month, and decided that Sideny Poitier would be my first star, I really had to think about what would be considered his essentials. The first two were quite easy, but then I had to think of three more. Many consider this film to be one of Sidney's greatest. Before I was going to make it one of my Sidney Poitier Essentials, I had to watch it first.
     Well, as you can see, it became an essential.
      To Sir, with Love is based off of the autobiography of the same name by E. R. Braithwaite. This film made my decision to become a teacher feel so right. It became my foundation. It hit me as I watched Sideny slowly but surely make his students realize that they didn't have to be who they thought they had to be, but rather who they wanted to be, that that was what I wanted to do. I didn't want to be like the man that Sidney played, but rather someone who could do something like that if I ever had to.
     I'm not a very emotional type of person, or rather, I'm not one to get very sentimental (I'm the type of person that stays away from the Hallmark channel, and then when I do watch something on Hallmark, I feel as though I just ate a tablespoon of sugar and its sweetness hurts my teeth). To Sir, with Love, however, didn't make me feel that way. Instead, it made me give a little triumphant nod of the head, and a "That's nice of them." when they give Sidney Poitier a sending off party.
     In short, if I were an ill-reputed teenager with nothing to look forward to in my future, and getting an education was the least important thing in my life, I'd want someone like, if not Sidney Poitier himself, to be the one to show me that my life didn't have to be that way. That I could be someone, and that education was one of the key principle players in making me achieve to be a better person.
     An interesting thing about this film is that the title song, To Sir, with Love became a number one hit for Lulu, the Scottish singer. It went #1 in the United States.

                                               Lulu singing, To Sir, with Love

     All in all, I give this film another 3.5/4 stars. I definitely recommend that you watch this film if you haven't. I don't know if it'll inspire you to be a teacher or not, but either way, it's a fantastic watch.

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