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Film / Class Of 73

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Class of '73 is a 2005 Jamaican film and DVD-recorded musical stage-play starring an ensemble cast including Oliver Samuels, Glen "Titus" Campbell, and Camille Davis, directed by Trevor Nairne and Patrick Brown and distributed by Jambiz Films.

Set in 1973 (of course), the plot focuses on the efforts of educator B.B. Bringle (Samuels) as he heads to Ackee Tree All-Age School and tries to prepare the students of the school's bottom-of-the-barrel class, known as 6-Z ("six-zed"), for the upcoming Common Entrance Examination. This, despite there being no hope that these particular children will have any chance of passing the exam, because of their varying levels of Book Dumb and Cloud Cuckoo Lander characteristics.

Among the students Bringle must prepare for the exam period are Milo (Campbell), a perpetual kleptomaniac; Racquel (Davis), a high-maintenance girl whose mother is an exotic dancer; Mutombo (Courtney Wilson), a boy with a permanent stutter; Carlos (Roger Williams), who constantly sucks his thumb; Dorcas (Magan Lewis), who has serious dental hygiene issues; and Phoebe (Sharee McDonald-Russell), a young girl with a constantly active appetite. The preparation period will definitely not be a simple matter for the kids, either, since Bringle himself isn't much better in terms of temperament or even intellect.

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(Note: Because the dialogue in the film includes the Jamaican patois dialect, a lot of the jokes and punch-lines won't work if translated into standard English. Therefore, where needed, explanations and translations will be provided.)

Examples of tropes in this work include:

  • All of the Other Reindeer: The 6-Z students are collectively this to the rest of the school, and it's encouraged by Reverend Roper.
  • Bad Liar: Milo can deny stealing other people's stuff all he wants, and Carlos can deny being a Covert Pervert, but their lies are so obvious that everyone can see through them. Same for Reverend Roper, the school's principal, who stoutly denies being a go-go club patron one second and then the next describes a particular physical feature of the place he supposedly knows nothing about.
  • Big Eater: Every scene Phoebe is in has her either eating or seeking to eat. It even gets to the point that the only prayers she knows are "God is Good, God is Great" and "For Health and Strength and Daily Food," both of which are prayers to grace meals, and one of her goals in life is to start her own chain of restaurants.
    Bringle: Tell me something, you ever pray for anything else in life besides food?
    Phoebe: No, sir.
    Bringle: ...well, at least you're honest.
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  • Big "SHUT UP!": When the kids learn that none of them will be recommended to sit the Common Entrance Exam, we get this exchange:
    Racquel: (tearfully) Sir...sir...so what we going do now, sir?
    Bringle: Try prayers.
    Phoebe: (clasps her hands) For health and strength and—
    Everyone else: SHUT YOUR MOUTH!
  • Blind Without 'Em: In one scene, Milo takes off his glasses to fight Mutombo...only to start swinging blindly at obviously empty space.
  • Book Dumb: The students of 6-Z, to the extent that they think the plural for "rabbit" is "rabbi" (that is, the Jewish religious leader somehow being the plural for the herbivore), that one looks in a Spanish book to find the meaning of strange words (actually a dictionary), and that -30 is somehow more than 25 (note the minus sign). Bringle himself isn't that much better, mangling Phoebe's and Racquel's names as "Fo-hee-bee" and "Ray-quell," respectively, and mispronouncing various words.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Reverend Roper denounces the 6-Z students as being dunce because they are black-skinned...though he himself is black.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: There is occasional audience participation prompted by the actors, including one scene where they call a group of audience members to stand in as the "students" of rival class 6-A, and another scene where a random audience member is called up to play a bit-role as an oft-overlooked member of 6-Z.
  • British Teeth: Doris is a non-British example, having teeth that are quite rotted due to her state of poverty (although you wouldn't exactly know it just by looking at the actress).
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: All of the children, to varying degrees. Racquel is probably the most well-adjusted of the lot, although that's not really saying much considering how high-maintenance she is.
  • Corporal Punishment: Bringle practices this regularly on the children with a rather thick ruler. In fact, his Establishing Character Moment has him coming into the classroom and smacking all the kids with the ruler before he introduces himself as their new teacher.
    Mutombo: (getting smacked) My father say teacher no supposed to lick me at school!
    Other kids: Eeh-heh!
    Bringle: Or else what? (smacks Mutombo again)
  • Covert Pervert: Carlos's very first moment has him trying to peek under Dorcas's skirt while she's standing atop a chair. When she calls him out, he tries to claim he was looking for his ruler under the desk even though it's obviously in his waistband.
  • Curse Cut Short: During the "Private Lesson" musical number, with the curse in question being a narrowly-aborted rhyme.
    Racquel: My mother say private lesson is a trick, with just one aim, fi make teacher rich.
    Bringle: I really wish that was true, oh Lord, how I wish! Your mumma really say that? That dry-head—
    Students: SIR!
  • Dean Bitterman: Reverend Roper, the principal, angrily yearns for the days when his school was a private institution that only accepted students who were brown-skinned or lighter and had married working parents, and he condemns the government policies that have forced him to turn it into a public school that accepts students of all stripes and economic standings. He is especially hateful toward the students of 6-Z, who he says are carrying down the school's grade-average because of their scholastic ineptitude (and their skin color).
  • Dirty Old Man: Reverend Roper is swiftly revealed to be a regular patron at El Rancho, a go-go dancers' club. Bringle himself is also a patron, immediately recognizing the name of Hurricane Hattie, Racquel's mother.
  • Distant Finale: The final scene takes place 32 years later, in 2005, during 6-Z's class reunion, where we get to see what has become of Bringle and the now-grown students in the intervening years.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Mutombo goes throughout the bulk of the story without wearing shoes. While he claims that it's because his father says they hail from Africa, it's probably less a case of him not liking shoes and more a case of him not being able to afford them (all the kids come from low-income homes).
  • Driven to Suicide: In a bit of Black Comedy during the opening musical number, the 6-Z students reveal that their previous homeroom teacher tried to kill herself because of them.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Reverend Roper, who walks with a slight limp, is also known as "Drop Short," which he doesn't particularly approve of.
  • Epic Fail: During the quiz competition against 6-A, Milo gets a very obvious question with a very obvious answer hopelessly wrong. The question being, "In what month do Americans celebrate the Fourth of July?" His answer: February. Not to mention, at the end of the quiz, while 6-A gets 25 points as the winning score, 6-Z has gotten -30.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Bringle may be a lazy layabout who's not all that interested in teaching the 6-Z kids anything of substance, but even he vocally disapproves of Reverend Roper dismissing them as morons because they are dark-skinned and lower-class. Likewise, Hurricane Hattie may be a go-go dancer, but she knows classism and prejudice when she sees them and isn't afraid to call out anyone who exhibits such traits.
  • Gift-Giving Gaffe: On Bringle's birthday, the students come together to get him a number of presents as part of their plan to suck up to him and get him to recommend them for the Common Entrance Examination. Unfortunately, their gifts range from cheap lemonade glasses to worm-filled mangoes to a gift-wrapped roll of toilet paper.
  • Hidden Depths: Mutombo actually has potential to be a disc jockey...or at least, he would, if not for his stuttering.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Reverend Roper's justification for his claim that the students of 6-Z are dunce because they are black. When Bringle rightly protests this, Roper—drawing diagrams on the chalkboard for emphasis—says that everyone knows that dark surfaces attract heat; therefore, because the children's heads are black (all of them having black hair), their heads absorb more of the sun's rays, and as a result the sun has baked their brains.
  • "Kick Me" Prank: At one point Doris covertly tapes a "Kick Me" sign on the oblivious Mutombo's back. The entire class proceeds to line up to kick him, with Bringle declaring, "Him deserve it!"
  • Kids Are Cruel: More than once, the other kids tease Racquel about her mother being a go-go dancer.
  • Mama Bear: Hurricane Hattie is decidedly not pleased that her daughter Racquel, and the rest of the 6-Z kids by extension, won't be allowed to sit the Common Entrance Examination. She openly calls out Reverend Roper for his classism that is preventing the kids from sitting the exam.
  • The Pig-Pen: Bringle declares this about the 6-Z kids the moment he walks in the door for the first time.
    Bringle: Fi oonu armpit want quarantine!note 
  • Punny Name: Bringle has a field day with Milo's full name, Milo Flours, when he first hears it.
    Bringle: Your mumma and puppa did hungry whem them name you? (to the audience) Milo and flour.
    • On the other hand, he sees Phoebe's surname, Small, as an Ironic Name considering she's a Big Eater.
    Phoebe: Me is not "Fo-hee-bee."
    Bringle: And you nuh small neither!
  • The Quiet One: Outside of group musical numbers, Carlos has the fewest speaking moments out of the six students. Probably has something to do with him constantly sucking his thumb.
  • The '70s: As stated, the story is set in 1973.
  • Snark Knight: Bringle toward the 6-Z students.
    Milo: Me is going to be a politician, sir.
    Bringle: And you so lie and t'ief? (beat) Well, I suppose that's the qualification...
  • Sticky Fingers: Milo is a compulsive thief, always taking the other kids' stuff from their desk drawers and then denying it even when the items are found in his desk drawer.
  • Still Sucks Thumb: Carlos is never seen without his thumb in his mouth, despite him being far too old for that by the time the story takes place.
  • Title Drop: The opening musical number has the student-cast singing about how they're, naturally, the class of '73. On the DVD release, the song is played again over the closing credits.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: During a quiz competition with rival class 6-A, in response to Bringle's question of what liquid H2O is the chemical formula for—as well as his rather obvious hint that "we drink it every day"—Phoebe loudly yells "PORRIDGE!" Not only is that obviously the wrong answer, but her teammates berate her for it, with Milo angrily adding that he doesn't drink porridge.
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