To Sir, With Love is based on E.R. Braithwaite’s novel of the same name, which chronicled the author’s experiences as a young Black teacher in a classroom of mostly white students at an East London high school.
It’s the swinging sixties in London, a time of youth upheaval and rebellion. Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier, Lilies of the Field 1963) is a newly graduated engineer, but cannot find work. To make ends meet, he takes a job as a teacher in a rough London East End school populated mostly by troublemakers who were rejected from other schools for their behaviour. While the students at first see Thackeray as just another teacher open for ridicule and bullying, his calm demeanour and desire to see them succeed gradually earn him their respect.
To Sir, with Love was one of the most popular films of the 1960s, in fact, the third most popular British film of the decade behind Bond outings Goldfinger and Thunderball. The sleeper hit of a film features an outstanding performance from Oscar winner Poitier as the quintessential firm but caring teacher.