The 1967 movie “To Sir With Love” starring Sidney Poitier is a very British film set in a secondary comprehensive school in London, England. It turned out to be a heart-warming ending though the storyline focused on the difficulties Poitier faced as a new teacher at a school with kids who had no respect for him or his efforts to help them. The film presents a fairly accurate picture of life in a British secondary school, a place full of young teenagers who lack respect, are boisterous and rebellious and who see teachers as enemies rather than friends. The movie captures the mood of the late sixties as a time of youth rebellion against society, a time when standards of social behavior were beginning to drop. Poitier as the novice teacher accepts the challenge of reversing the trend by winning the trust and respect of his charges and becomes a hero in their eyes.
The movie is sprinkled with a variety of well-known actors and actresses from the world of British film and television including a popular actress of the day, Judy Geeson. One attraction for younger movie-goers was to see Lulu, a young pop star of the sixties, appear as one of the schoolkids. Lulu was not an established actress by any means but deserved her part in the movie for the song alone. Her rendering of the song “To Sir With Love” was outstanding and form me, one of the highlights of the whole film. Watching the movie some forty years later is a very interesting experience. It brings back memories to see the clothing styles, the hairstyles, the cars and all the other things connected to the 1960s as revealed int eh course of the film.
Sidney Poitier was a major actor at the time and was a very unusual choice for the role considering he was both American and black, two things that made him stand out as different in the surrounding environment. After all the hardships he has to endure, he emerges as a hero among the kids and the movie ends with his new found friends crying as he leaves them. The film is worth watching if you have never seen it before and also worth a look if you never have. To take a nostalgic trip back to the sixties is just one of the reasons to watch this classic movie and the storyline will not disappoint you. If you are aregular British movie or television buff, you will recognize a few well known faces who had supporting roles alongside the star, Sidney Poitier. If nothing else, watch To Sir With Love just to hear the outstanding title song by Lulu. The Glasgow girl puts in one of her best ever performances as a singer with this beautiful song and this is a fitting end to wonderful movie.