To Sir, With Love (1976)

Significantly lighter fare, To Sir, With Love is, well … lovely. Though hugely sentimental and entirely unrealistic, its success is owed prominently to Sidney Poitier’s magnificent performance. In fact, it seems he was the reason it succeeded so astoundingly in the US.

Ultimately there isn’t much to say about this film except to praise Poitier for being the stellar beast of a man that he is. He’s poised and sincere, with an admirable elegance about his conviction. Though it is unbelievable and borderline impossible that someone could reform an entire class of delinquents so close to graduation, Poitier manages to make it plausible. Hell, even wholly believable.

What I did find surprising was how little race was addressed. It’s touched on, but rather superficially. At the same time, it doesn’t feel actively avoided either. The students’ horrid behavior in class has nothing to do with the fact that Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier) is black. It has everything to do with his position of authority.

It’s a simply written, simply shot and simply executed film. There’s little complex or challenging about it. The young actors and actresses do little to impress, though perform adequately. Sidney Poitier, I will say again, is a beast of a man. He takes an otherwise rudimentary character and gives him depth and conviction. You wind up almost wishing you’d had him for a teacher at some point.

But, as a result, it’s simply the sum of its parts. Ultimately making To Sir, With Love a pleasant watch, with an impressive lead, and a charming if predictable and rudimentary plot.

This post was originally published on my tumblr on February 18, 2013.