Rebel Pedagogues, Part 3: To Sir, with Love (1967)

April 23, 2015 | By

ToSirWithLove_poster Like Conrack (1973), another entry in the benevolent teacher / rebel pedagogue genre, To Sir, with Love (1967) shows the plight of marginalized lower class kids through the eyes of their teacher, a newcomer who becomes both mentor, friend, and paternal figure, and someone who chooses to stick with the tough job because he realizes his determination may give the kids important tools needed to survive in a cruel, class-structured society like 1960s Britain.

Sidney Poitier chose to make the film when no one else cared because it was a project that delivered many messages;  the issue of racial inequality is actually quite low in priority in James Clavell’s script, making the film perhaps more influential (and less dated) than Poitier’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

It’s also a rare film directed by James Clavell, a writer by trade whose greatest claim to fame remains his epic novels on Asia – King Rat, Nobel House, Shogun, and Tai-Pan. 

Boasting a hit song by Don Black and Mark London with ornately arranged harmonics, the film was scored by one of Britain’s underdog composers, Ron Grainer, whose best-known work remains the Doctor Who theme, but whose extensive film and TV remains largely unreleased on CD.

For every rare commercial release – such as the impeccable The Omega Man (1971), the punchy The Prisoner (1967) – there are many more scores languishing in vaults. It’s lovely his underscore for To Sir, with Love is isolated in a mono track, but more should be out there on disc, including his playful yet bittersweet Hoffman (1970), the eerie The Caretaker (1963), and John Schlesinger’s short film gem Terminus (1961).



Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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