Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A British teen movie

There are a lot of similarities between adolescents all over the world, as can be seen in the British-made movie To Sir, With Love, airing tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM ET on TCM. Sidney Poitier stars as Mark Thackeray, a Caribbean-born engineer who, after working a series of jobs, has ended up at a high school in a grimy working-class part of London. These are difficult kids, but Thackeray quickly takes a liking to them, and drops his planned curriculum for teaching them about life, a change which ends up having a great effect on the students -- and him, as well.

To Sir, With Love is nothing groundbreaking, in that it treads the same material that teen movies of previous generations did, and movies from later generations (such as The Breakfast Club) would go on to do. And so, even though it's clearly a movie of the 1960s, what with the fashions and hairstyles and music, it's also in a way timeless. Still, for Americans, this one stands out because of the London settings, which make for something quite different than all the Hollywood teen movies. Poitier also gives an excellent performance as his is a role that dominates the movie.

There is one interesting difference between this and many of the Hollywood movies in the genre: several the actors playing the students -- including Lulu, who also sang title song; and Judy Geeson, whose relationship with her teacher is the main one depicted in the movie -- were only 18 when the movie was made, and the older student/actors were only a few years older. It much less of an age difference than in, say The Blob.

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