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.