Film: To Sir With Love

Trailers Always Lie. In this case, that's a crying shame. This is the poster for the US release as the term fresh in this context is unknown in the UK

To Sir, with Love is a 1967 British drama film starring Sidney Poitier that deals with social and racial issues in an inner city school. James Clavell both directed and wrote the film's screenplay, based on the semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by E. R. Braithwaite. Sidney Poiter plays Mark Thackeray, a teacher originally from British Guiana, now Guyana, who recently moved from the United States. The plot primarily centers around Thackeray's idealism clashing with his teenage pupils' cynicism.

Poitier also starred in a 1996 TV sequel To Sir With Love II with a retired Thackeray leaving London to teach in an inner city high school in Chicago. It was directed by Peter Bogdanovich and featured brief cameos from actors Judy Geeson and Lulu reprising their original roles.

This film provides examples of:

  • Apathetic Teacher: Mr. Weston.
  • Berserk Button: Thackeray looks into a classroom heater and goes off on the female students when he finds a "disgusting object" of theirs burning inside. (While the object in question isn't identified in the film, the book reveals it as a used sanitary napkin.)
  • Cool Teacher: The class eventually sees Thackeray as this.
  • Eureka Moment: Thackeray has one of these after finding the "disgusting object". He heads into the staff room, rants angrily about his students to the female teacher, and halfway through realizes that the lessons he's been teaching them are absolutely useless for preparing the class for adulthood.
  • Guyana: Thackeray's country of origin.
  • Heel Realization: The class after Thackeray blasts them for their behavior.
  • High Turnover Rate: Thackeray was the latest in a long line of teachers to attempt to teach the class.
  • Hot for Teacher: An example where the teacher is somewhat disturbed to learn that his student has a crush on him.
  • Inner City School: The British version of one.
    • The one in the sequel was located in Chicago with a mix of Black, White and Hispanic kids.
  • Photo Montage: When Thackeray takes the kids to a museum, set to the Title Tune by Lulu.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Thackeray occasionally does this, starting with a rant about how sluttish and unladylike the female students are after finding the Berserk Button mentioned above.
  • Save Our Students: Thackeray's goal.
  • Slut Shaming: Literally in the example cited above, when Thackeray tells the girls how sickened he is by their "sluttish behavior" and that "only a filthy slut would have done such a thing". He never uses the word again but later, there are milder examples as he gently, but firmly urges the girls to pay more attention to their personal hygiene and manner of dress.
  • Sound Effect Bleep: There is one point where one of the students curse and get drowned out by the noise of a passing train.
  • Stern Teacher: Thackeray takes this stance at times.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Thackeray insist's on the students calling him 'Sir", but returns the favor by call them "Miss" or "Mr" and insisting that they do the same when talking to each other.
  • Title Drop: Thackeray is given a coffee cup (an unidentified object in the novel) with the title on the side, as Lulu performs the song in character for him.
  • Where Da White Women At?: Inverted. It's one of Thackeray's students who develops a crush on him. Meanwhile, he's oblivious to the similar feelings of one of his fellow teachers. Which is even more of an inversion, as in real life, Braithwaite married her.