Back to School (1): To Teaching, with Love
September marks the start of another school year, and a time to pay tribute and attention to the learning experience. After all, a little respect goes a long way, and that’s what freshly christened teacher Mark Thackeray, played by Sidney Poitier with fire, charisma and deep understanding in To Sir, with Love (1967), sets out to do with his young, kicked-to-the-curb teen charges at a hardscrabble East End London school. Over time, respect and patience worked in the film and in life: firstly, in convincing the skeptical studio brass to bankroll a British-made classroom piece that would be a passion project for Poitier with no other stars attached; secondly, in winning over the rising teen moviegoing audience to embrace a movie that portrayed their lives with humor and empathy and not talk down to them; and thirdly, in crafting a tough yet tender touchstone movie about education that has stood the test of time. Among the informative and entertaining Extras exclusive to Twilight Time’s To Sir, with Love Blu-ray are an audio commentary and a featurette with original To Sir, with Love author E.L. Braithwaite, who relates how close he came to losing the notebooks of his teaching career that would form the basis of his autobiographical novel and how faithful the finished film is and isn’t to his book. Also, Poitier’s longtime agent Marty Baum reminisces about his friend and their struggles to make the film that, considering what a watershed year 1967 became for Poitier with In the Heat of the Night and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (also a TT Blu-ray) also in theatres, seem hard to believe. You have to respect all that you can learn from this highly entertaining hi-def treat.