Blackboard Jungle (1955)
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It's kind of weird, trying to put yourself into the middle-class mindset of 1955 in order to experience the menace suggested by this movie, but it is worth the effort.
There are a lot of movies like Blackboard Jungle, and I kind of thought it might be the first of its kind, but even if it is, it can't escape formula. In terms of results, it's a mostly predictable film, with all-too-clear set-ups marking the way. In the particulars, it may surprise, but that's because it's way over the top. The movie actually loses points in the opening scroll, warning us about the dangers of juvenile delinquency before overstating its point by portraying a school where all the bad kids seem to get funneled, where teachers get knifed in back alleys or raped by students in the library... and yet these truants and gangbangers still show up for class. I did catch the explanation that in 1955, we have a teenage generation that lost their father figures in the war, but it all seems to extreme as to be unbelievable. Dated '50s attitudes are prevalent (there's also some ugly slut shaming from the protagonist's wife that goes relatively unchallenged). But look, I will never find Glenn Ford not watchable, even if his character is a little hard to latch on to at first, and Sidney Poitier, in a supporting role, is immediately engaging (as usual), and I do like Blackboard Jungle as a double feature pick with To Sir, With Love, where Poitier takes on the inner city school teacher's role. Very watchable, but melodramatic and histrionic. Show it to your teacher friends to give them nightmares.
great movie with some very good acting.
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In 4 official lists
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This movie ranks #3 in Jennifer Eiss's 500 Essential Cult Movies
This movie ranks #105 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
This movie ranks #496 in David Thomson's Have You Seen?
This movie ranks #736 in Library of Congress's National Film Registry