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Blackboard Jungle, the

 NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Novelist Evan Hunter burst America's postwar bubble when he described an inner-city school terrorized by switchblade-wielding juvenile delinquents. Director-screenwriter Richard Brooks's 1955 adaptation of Blackboard Jungle still packs a tremendous wallop (even if it was shot mostly on the back lot). A forerunner of Rebel Without a Cause and West Side Story, this black-and-white classic--set to Bill Haley and His Comets' "Rock Around the Clock"--is part exposé, part melodrama, part public-service announcement. "It is the frankest, the toughest, the most realistic film since On the Waterfront," ballyhooed MGM at the time.

Glenn Ford, at his slow-to-rile best, plays Richard Dadier, an incoming English teacher at North Manual High School. An idealist who knows how to handle himself in a dark alley, Dadier stands his ground and earns the begrudging respect of school thugs led by Vic Morrow and Sidney Poitier. Anne Francis plays Ford's especially vulnerable wife; Richard Kiley (later in Brooks's Looking for Mr. Goodbar) is the timid math teacher with the priceless jazz-record collection; Louis Calhern and John Hoyt are among the more cynical North Manual High veterans. See if you can ID Jamie Farr and director Paul Mazursky as gang members. The film was nominated for four Oscars. --Glenn Lovell


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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rock and Roll Era Begins April 23 2004
Format:VHS Tape
I saw this movie in 1955. It was one of the best in that age in the genre about alienated youth, dealing as it did with ghetto kids and minorities rather than the spoiled brats of "Rebel Without a Cause."
Most of all, the movie introduced me and a million other kids to Rock and Roll. I remember listening spellbound to "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and the Comets at the end of the movie. Something, I perceived in my little noodle brain, had changed -- and nothing would ever be the same again.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An honor roll American drama March 7 2004
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This tough, gritty film created quite a stir in 1955 with its approach to incorrigible students unwilling to learn or listen and their self-destructive tendencies. A brave, tireless teacher is determined to remain at a trade school and try to shape and mold young minds against heavy odds. Richard Dadier [Glenn Ford] is beset by many problems, personal and professional, but he eventually wins over his unruly students by teaching them about life, racial intolerance, and responsibility as well as the three Rs that his charges so desperately need to learn. Dadier remains true to his personal values as he dotes on his pregnant wife who fears another miscarriage, resists the advances of a lonely, sexually frustrated fellow teacher and returns to the classroom to confront and teach the same thugs who beat him and another teacher senseless in an alley. The student body has a diverse ethnic make-up and the volatile racial angle flares up in several scenes. Margaret Hayes has a nice turn as a teacher with plenty of sex appeal and because she doesn't dress like a teacher should, she gets catcalls and whistles from her male students who ogle her figure appreciatively. Sidney Poitier is also good as Miller, the thoughtful student who Dadier targets to pull the other boys into line and turn the tables on Vic Morrow's sneering, lawless thug Artie West.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Blackboard Review Dec 2 2002
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
The Blackboard Jungle was produced in 1955-a popular time period for movies dealing with teenage delinquency. Richard Dadier is a teacher who gets his first assignment in a rough inner-city school. Dadier has trouble exerting his authority over the students while other teachers have given up.
Gregory Miller, played by Sidney Poitier, is pinpointed by Dadier as the leader of the students. Dadier wants to reach Miller in hopes at reaching other students. But it is soon discovered that Artie West and his student gang rule the school.
Dadier foiled an attempted sexual assault (against another teacher, Ms. Hammond) by one of the students in the gang. The other members vow revenge on Dadier. In the end of the film, West attacks Dadier with a knife and Miller comes to the aid of Dadier.
For me, I feel that the main message about teenagers/youth culture was that kids were often labeled as delinquents without fully understanding them. Dadier assumed that all of the students were problem students, yet really it was a select few. Also, such students', growing up in poorer families, seemed to be labeled as delinquents and thus not much is expected of them or their future. Dadier tries to change this by showing his students that he does care about all of them.
Even though this film was created almost 55 years ago, I think it does a decent job capturing the realities of some youth cultures. I, myself, can not relate to such deviance in school, but I can imagine for those who grew up in urban areas, that students are much more disrespectful, abusive and delinquent, just like they are depicted in the film.
I liked that the film focused on a teacher who was willing to fight for the students. While watching this movie, I am reminded of the film Dangerous Minds. Both movies contain teachers who don't back down from a challenge. They help the students because they want to, not because they have too.
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4.0 out of 5 stars IT REALLY IS A JUNGLE OUT THERE Sept. 14 2002
By K. Jump
Format:VHS Tape
1955's "The Blackboard Jungle" remains a poignant, relevant portrayal of life in America's public schools. The story of WWII vet turned English teacher (Glenn Ford)as he struggles to reach a class of apathetic teens who do not want to be reached, the movie takes us from Ford's unsuspecting classroom debut through his efforts to lead a normal home life despite the pressures of his new job and finally to a climactic showdown with his most evil of students.
The movie's cast is thoroughly excellent. Ford is at once tough and terribly vulnerable as the embattled new teacher, Margaret Hayes is all patrician slinkiness as For'd wanne-be paramour, Sidney Poitier is convincing as the slowly mellowing student, and Anne Francis is even sexier than she was in "Forbidden Planet" as Ford's supportive but insecure wife.
There's much to appreciate in this film. Partly intended to help comat the growing problem of juvenile delinquency in 50s America, the film tries hard to achieve realism and generally succeeds. The students in Ford's class are disillusioned, lazy, suspicious, arrogant, obnoxious, and sometimes dangerous--which is exactly how teens are in real life. The only typical teenage bad habit that's not portrayed (or at least suggested) is cursing, which of course 50s moral standards would not allow on the big screen. But if they don't swear, Ford's students have no trouble finding other ways to be both annoying and anarchic, just like real kids. Interestingly, Ford discovers (much like this reviewer did) that sometimes the best way to reach apathetic kids is with a cartoon. Sad.
Another great thing about this movie is its approach to the politics of the school world. The movie's teachers argue and struggle not only with their students, but amongst themselves.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Blackboard Jungle!
This is a classic. If you like performance with a message from an era of cliche this is the movie for you! Read more
Published on Feb. 4 2012 by Mira Malatestinic
3.0 out of 5 stars Always Good to See Poitier in Fine Form
Early Poitier flick. He's actually not in very much of it. Elements of what made him the greatest black actor ever are already evident. The movie itself is merely ok. Read more
Published on June 14 2004 by J
5.0 out of 5 stars Never Give Up
Filmmakers through their motion pictures often reflect or mirror traits or problems with society. Some filmmakers even affect society by their works. Read more
Published on March 19 2002 by hille2000
5.0 out of 5 stars This Movie is Timeless
I remember seeing this movie in 1955 when I was eleven or twelve years old, and it's surprising how much I remembered about the movie before viewing it again. Read more
Published on Jan. 13 2002 by Bill Emblom
5.0 out of 5 stars A gritty portrayal of an unyielding teacher's crusade!
I first saw this movie in the early 70s on TV and have rented it numerous times since the advent of VHS. Read more
Published on Oct. 10 2000 by drew behr
5.0 out of 5 stars Saw this film when it released in '55-still great now!
It has a certain sentimental value to be but it sure earns that five stars. This is a film with a socially commenting relative plot which along the way had many small moments. Read more
Published on May 30 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars Richard Brooks
Amazing as it seems, all these decades later, the sound was turned down by the theater during the opening credits. Read more
Published on April 16 1999
3.0 out of 5 stars ok, but atimes slow moving j.d. drama
although Blackboard Jungle is at times interesting and a bit disturbing, it is not a gang or delinquency drama as it is often believed. Read more
Published on March 11 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the BEST of the 1950s!
Glenn Ford is excellent as the idealistic teacher struggling to deal with a group of rowdy students. Read more
Published on Aug. 8 1998
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