VERY GOOD 1955 b/w film dealing with juvenile delinquency. Excellent performances by Glenn Ford as teacher - and Vic Morrow in his film debut as one of the 'bad boys'.
A great movie, as riveting and relevant as it was in1955.
Idealistic war veteran Richard Dadier is excited to land a job teaching English at North Manual Highschool, an inner city boys school dubbed “the garbage can of the educational system” by one of its many harried teachers. But with a student body consisting mainly of thugs, gang-bangers and assorted cretins, his initial enthusiasm is soon dampened to a sullen persistence especially after he’s assaulted in an alley and his precariously pregnant wife begins receiving troubling letters. Beginning to doubt his vocation, Dadier is on the verge of packing it in until a classroom showdown with the school’s head hoodlum provides an inroad of sorts. For the most part Richard Brooks manages to keep his film believable thanks to a very talented cast including Glenn Ford as the beleaguered Dadier and Sidney Poitier as an unexpectedly wise student. Along the way he also makes a few salient observations on the many faces of prejudice, the abysmal working conditions of educators, and the role of society in molding the next generation of taxpayers. Unfortunately, by today’s standards it all comes across as a little too trite and tidy with simple discussions often morphing into sermons and a lukewarm script rife with truisms and clichéd bad boys; one tense scene in which Old Glory comes to the rescue provides a particularly puzzling metaphor. Interesting just the same, and the opening credits featuring Bill Halley and His Comets belting out “Rock Around the Clock” was cool, if somewhat odd.
It's just as well Glenn Ford stopped teaching at that girls' school. There's enough chemistry flying between him and Sidney Poitier. Some clever dialogue and realistic situations. Less one star for sexism and hypocrisy: a teacher is "asking for it" with the way she dresses. She has a flannel suit, like that slut June Cleaver.
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