Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Forgotten Films: Blackboard Jungle

Still on the Evan Hunter kick here. I saw the movie several years before I read the book, and when "Rock Around the Clock" came blaring out of the speakers, I knew I was going to like it. My high school was nothing at all like the one depicted here, but that didn't matter. I could identify, at least a little bit, with the kids in Rick Dadier's class.

Years later, when I, like Dadier, became a high-school English teacher, I identified strongly with him. There's a lot of realism both in the film and in the book about the frustrations of an idealistic first-year teacher who discovers that things aren't exactly like he thought they'd be.

Put this one together with last week's film for a great double-feature presentation of what the '50s were like in the movies. And if the '50s weren't like that in reality, well, the movies mirrored the reality better than you might think. So did the books. Check 'em out.


pattinase (abbott) said...

A really terrific little movie. We don't make movies/tv about teachers anymore unless they sing and dance.

Todd Mason said...

Well...um...it lost me at about the point that the veteran, bitter teacher brings in his irreplaceable collection of shellac jazz 78s to Try To Reach the Savages, and they make him sad. Sure, that'd happen.

This would be (a second-hand, in film adaptation) example of the kind of thing that tends to put me off the Hunter works.

But there's no questioning the cast (Sidney Poitier as hoodlum!) or the energy of the production.

Patti--well, not centered on the teachers and/or their teaching, necessarily (though it's always a factor), but such recent items as EASY A, PRECIOUS, THE BIG C, HUNG and MISS GUIDED come to mind...none of these necessarily first-rate (MISS GUIDED the closest) but all better than GLEE, at least.

Cap'n Bob said...

It was on yesterday and I saw a little of it. Made me want to find a smarmy-looking kid and punch him out.

Unknown said...

I thought you felt that way every day, Cap'n!

Todd Mason said...

I knew I was forgetting something good...the best portrayal of a teacher's plight at the moment might be BREAKING BAD, which AMC has just cancelled. (Bastards!)

Meanwhile, there's this veteran who seems to be following me around...(not that I've been mistakable for a kid for some decades...)

Cap'n Bob said...

Me? Surely you jest. Never had a calmer, more peaceable chap trod the Earth.