An enormous hit in its time, this relatively simple and sentimental story of a teacher's seemingly miraculous ability to change his unruly students for the better is sustained by Sidney Poitier's powerful performance. He stars as a Caribbean native who finds himself working in a rundown secondary school in London's tough East End. Quickly realizing that his rebellious students need to learn self-discipline and survival skills more than anything they can find in a book, he acts accordingly. There are few actors of the first rank who have so completely embodied integrity and strength of character as has Sidney Poitier, and it is through this combination of qualities that he almost makes one believe in the rather fanciful premise of the film. But, with the exception of Pamela (Judy Geeson), the script provides the students with little in the way of characterization, as well as insisting on the patronizing notion that good manners will provide the solution to most of their problems. While the young actors are reasonably adequate, they're badly overmatched in any scene with Poitier. His ability to bring a character vibrantly to life, with all the nuances of anger, tenderness, humor, and thought at his disposal, is reason enough to see this film.
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One of the 1960s' most beloved and endearing films, To Sir With Love is available on DVD through Columbia Classics. The DVD features the widescreen anamorphic (1:85:1) version of the film on one side and the full-screen (1:33:1) version on the other. Also included are scene selections as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai. The included booklet has brief production notes. Other bonus features include detailed talent files on director James Clavell and the film's star, Sidney Poitier, who was at the height of his popularity at the time of the film's release, plus the film's trailer, as well as bonus trailers for the Poitier A Raisin in the Sun, Buck and the Preacher, and Brother John. The only thing missing from this otherwise fine DVD is some mention of the film's other interesting actors, especially Lulu, who scored one of the biggest hits of the 1960s with the film's timeless title song.
All Movie Guide - Michael Costello
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